Being a certified personal trainer is incredibly rewarding, and it’s definitely one of the most exciting careers one can have.
However, it’s also one that comes with a lot of responsibility and a need for exceptional people skills, empathy, and professionalism in order to be successful. It doesn’t matter what your personal beliefs, preferences, or outlooks are; you need to maintain a professional demeanor in the workplace and avoid engaging in harmful behavior.
There are some things that are definite no-gos for personal trainers, especially during training sessions. Here are a few of those things you should be careful to avoid
1. Never shame them for their weight or bodies
The hallmark of a bad personal trainer is that they shame their clients for their bodies. It’s important to acknowledge that there are different body types, weight changes, and all kinds of reasons that people look a certain way; it could be medical, it could be lifestyle issues, and it could also be a choice. It doesn’t matter how much they weigh, what they look like, and what their choices were before. All that matters is that they’re here for your help and ready to work with you.
2. Never touch or hold them without consent
As a certified personal trainer, a lot of the work you do with your clients will involve physical interaction and contact. However, it’s also important to make a note of the fact that everyone has various boundaries, and you can’t dismiss and disregard them. Even when you want to correct, help, or assist your clients, always get their consent before you touch them or get close to them. It doesn’t matter how you’ve been trained or taught before, there’s no compromising on someone’s comfort levels. There are some scenarios when touching a client is important and inevitable, and all you need to do is simply ask rather than proceed without asking.
3. Never show up to a session unprepared
A faux pas that many trainers are guilty of is winging it. Remember that clients are paying you for individual, one-on-one training and leaving their progress and workouts up to you. In fact, they’re paying you to think for them and take the stress out of planning and designing workouts away from them. It reflects poorly on your professional abilities if you’re showing up to a training session unprepared and without a program designed. Prepare ahead of every individual session and factor in everything from your client’s progress to their current fitness level and what they worked on during their last session.
4. Never use a cookie-cutter approach to training
This brings us to another crucial point: you should never ever take a cookie-cutter approach to training your clients. You may think you can get away with it, and it’s easy to replicate the same generic, basic workout for various personal training clients. But you’re not only being unfair to your clients, but you’re also hurting your own brand by doing this. The last thing you want is to make everyone do the same workout, similar to a certified group fitness instructor would. As mentioned above, you should design workouts that cater to each client specifically, including their age, previous experience, current fitness levels, personalized goals and aims for personal training, and other details that allow them to deliver results that meet their needs.
5. Never lose focus or get distracted mid-session
Remember what we said above? Clients are paying you for one-on-one time and attention, which means that you need to give them your all. If they’re giving you their full commitment, you need to return the favor and do the same for them. This means no texting or checking your phone, no scrolling through social media, no dealing with other clients, no talking to other trainers, and no zoning out and wandering off while they finish their sets and reps. You need to pay attention and give them your complete focus so you’re able to monitor their progress and their form and make adjustments as and when necessary.
6. Never ignore their concerns and worries
The reality of your job is that you will be dealing with a lot of clients who are worried, hesitant, and straight-up scared of certain things, and you need to know when to push them. However, it’s also important to draw the line and not force them into things they’re uncomfortable with.
Whether your client is uncomfortable with running or certain movements, you need to work your way around their discomfort, injuries, or other factors that are holding them back and come up with a realistic alternative. A great trainer knows where to push their clients and where they need to respect their choices, allowing them to explore their options and find more comfortable alternatives.
7. Never forget that you are a walking billboard for yourself
You need to remember that you’re also a billboard for your personal brand as a fitness trainer. You can’t show up to work looking like you don’t care, or being a hot mess, even if your line or work has a more casual dress code. You should always put your best foot forward and make a stellar impression.
You can learn more about improving client relationships through WITS Education’s personal trainer certifications. They have various courses that are designed to offer you a lot of insight, training, and education on a wide variety of aspects of fitness training. You can get started in your career and become a certified exercise instructor through their training and certifications.
About the Author
Jermaine F. is a certified fitness professional who has been working in the industry for nearly a decade. He works to coach and educate other trainers and interested professionals who wish to build a career in this field, teaching them how to practice empathy, better etiquette, and generally be more professional.