Personal training has never been more accessible, profitable, and popular. Backed by studies showing how effective it is for changing client behavior and health, the number of personal trainers continues to climb even during the time of Covid.
Unfortunately, most personal trainers miss the mark.
Instead of balancing their time between education, experience, sales, and marketing, most trainers focus too much on one area.
Let's discuss the characteristics of these fitness coaches and the skills you need to develop to make sure you're the one who will enjoy a vibrant career.
Four Types of Personal Trainers
There are four types of personal trainers, but only one will be successful and make a long run in the fitness industry. Which one are you?
This is the trainer who is sales driven but has little to no practical foundation in the industry.
Being a sales-driven trainer is not a bad thing. They have the courage and resilience to approach prospective clients and sell them the benefits of their services. They are okay with being told "no". In fact, this just fuels their drive. If they are employed in a commercial gym, they usually have the highest numbers.
However, all sales and no practical skill is a recipe for short-lived success. What's more, if the trainer isn't well versed in the available services, a few complicated questions from the prospect are enough to ruin the sale.
You see this a lot in the commercial gyms with the cheapest memberships. They'll have a great run for several years based on volume alone. The problem comes in when the clients don't see results, get injured, or feel as if their trainer isn't addressing their needs.
Eventually, this type of gym will get replaced with another that's just like it, and the cycle continues.
The Fitness Expert
This type of trainer is no stranger to the fitness industry. They are always up to date with the latest science and exercise trends. And they'll easily be able to talk your ear off about exercise programs, diving into too much detail that goes above the average client's head.
The problem is that they have little to no sales or marketing experience. Even worse, they think that it's not necessary. This trainer believes that skill alone and being a good trainer is enough to build a book of consistent clients.
Sure, skill is essential, and referrals can help business, but if a trainer doesn't know how to ask for the sale or how to market services, they can suffer financially or never reach their true potential. Missing out on clients can result in a salary that is no better than your average retail job.
We've all seen those trainers and fitness personalities who are more concerned with likes on Instagram than actual education and instruction.
On the one hand, focusing on aesthetics is an excellent marketing tool. Showing physical prowess through seemingly impossible calisthenics or powerlifting is going to grab attention.
On the other hand, crazy fitness tricks are only useful to a point. After that, a trainer needs to be able to educate, instruct, and motivate. Anyone with a great body can create a social media channel but if the content doesn't have any real or practical application, no one will take it seriously.
The trainer who will go the distance in this business is the one who has built a solid foundation in the industry while developing their ability and skills in sales and marketing.
From grunt work to hundreds of hands-on hours with real clients, a trainer needs to know every side of the coaching industry.
On top of that, a trainer must invest time and money in training for sales, marketing, and the business side of fitness. It's helpful to have the confidence to ask for the sale, but you also need a website to showcase your experience, services, and valuable content in the form of blogs, e-books, or videos.
By achieving that balance of education and practical experience in personal training along with knowledge and application of sales and marketing, you'll seem like a natural, and your monthly income will attest to that.
How to Become the Balanced Trainer
As mentioned above, you'll need experience in both personal training and sales. I recommend beginning with personal training experience first because if you know your industry inside and out, you'll be able to sell it.
Here are some great ways to increase your personal training knowledge and experience:
- Invest in specialized certifications before your renewal is due
- Hold free training seminars in your area
- Record training sessions, watch them and take notes on how to improve
- Shadow, a trainer who has been doing this longer than you
- Get behind the scenes – Shadow your PT manager and learn the business from their perspective
Next, I would invest time and money in sales training and business coaching.
The former will improve your overall demeanor, confidence, and outlook on selling. You'll know what to say during counterpoints, and you'll genuinely feel good about selling your services because you know they are valuable.
The latter will help you understand what is needed to build a solid business foundation. From letters of introduction to taxes to lead magnets, you'll learn the ins and outs of the business world, and then you can decide what to take on yourself and which tasks you'll outsource.
But beware of the fake business coaches who make extravagant claims and promises. A coach is worth the money but only if you find a good one, so be sure to scan reviews and the Better Business Bureau.
Here are some techniques I use to improve my chances of initiating a conversation and securing a prospective client:
- Consistent social media posts and commenting when someone responds
- Holding free seminars or workshops – Great for the experience but also a wonderful chance to market yourself
- Write content for fitness websites – Your name could potentially get in front of millions of people
- Walk the gym floor between clients and offer help to those who are willing to listen (Make sure you have your business cards in your pocket)
Which Type of Personal Trainer Are You?
Did you resonate with any of the trainers listed above? Are you a fitness expert or a salesman?