I remember passing my Personal Trainer level three test and thinking sh*t, I don’t know what I’m doing! It was a little like passing your driving test and then entering the motorway for the first time. I had the knowledge but was unsure how to apply it and what obstacles would come my way.
I’ve been a trainer for four years now and it still throws total curve balls my way, you see we’re all individuals, no-one is the same, so how can we possibly treat each other like we’re identical. The course was amazing don’t get me wrong but it provides the basics, the nutritional guidelines, the physics of the body and the risks involved. It does not, however, prepare you for someone post surgery, anxieties, working with someone who doesn’t actually want to exercise and undiagnosed medical issues. It also doesn’t tell you that you’re going to become a life coach, friend and confidant.
I feel proud to say that each one of my clients over the years has reached not only the goals they set out to achieve but so many more. I’m happy to say, I am yet to have injured anyone (although one client nearly fell off the treadmill) and that it’s always been down to me to tell the client when to stop, which is why I wanted to give you my tips on how to build a successful relationship with your clients and yourself as a trainer.
Honesty: this is my number one tip. People will come to you with various goals, realistic and not, pictures of people they want to look like and hopes for their sessions with you. It is down to YOU, to be honest with them about what is possible, the time-frame, the results, the energy they need to put in and the cost. If someone can only see you once a week then their results are 90% down to them as you’re pretty much just introducing them to new exercises, two times a week then it’s 75% but anything more than three times a week means it’s all on you as the trainer.
Knowledge: There is no course that will give you enough knowledge for every single person that walks through the door. To be a successful and relevant trainer you need to be consistently learning new courses, podcasts, websites, books, sessions with other trainers. The industry and health information is continuously changing and it is down to you to stay current, voice your own opinion and decide what works for you and those you work with.
Goodbye: While I appreciate you might need the money please don’t hold onto clients for too long. I always aim to have successfully trained and transformed a client within a year. While they will no doubt love training with you and possibly even become a friend, after a certain period of time, focus, engagement and effort start to dwindle and this can slow down results. My aim is always to get the client to where they wanted to be, give them all the tools and knowledge as possible and then let them try it on their own or try something new.
Represent: I don’t personally believe you have to have abs or be in perfect on-stage shape to be a good trainer, however, I do believe you should practice what you preach. Don’t expect your clients to track their macros, weights and workouts if you don’t. Lead by example and in some cases adapt your training if they are conquering a challenge you haven’t yet come across, e.g: marathon, bikini comp, triathlon.
Headspace: As a trainer one of the things I never expected to happen was that my own training would suffer but it did. I can honestly say that when I was doing 5 am – 10 pm with clients I was possibly the most unfit I have ever been. I was tired, squeezing in my meals and workouts between sessions and really didn’t want to spend another hour in my work environment. I feel most trainers go through this so don’t panic. My biggest recommendation is to create a work-life balance and find your own personal space. I moved onto CrossFit when I lost my gym mojo and it did wonders for me as a coach. I don’t teach CrossFit, it’s purely my own training escape away from the gym, a place to kick my own butt and learn. You might just want to train in another gym or perhaps do a class, opt to eat your lunch in a local coffee shop, anything you can to get some headspace from the environment you work in.
Are you a trainer or thinking about becoming one? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips! You might also like my first post which is all about how I became a Personal Trainer, click here.
Photo credit: Jon Payne