In the beginning of my training
career, I would do everything I could just to keep a steady income. My schedule
was dictated by the demand of my clients and with that came the dreaded split shift.
I would train my one-on-one clients, every hour on the hour, from five to ten
in the morning. Once finished, I would get my workout in and head to the community
trainer's office to study until my next client came in. I would start up again
with my one-on-one clients, every hour on the hour, from four until nine and
then head home. A few hours of sleep and I was back at it again. Sometimes I
wondered why I even left the gym at all and often joked about buying my own cot
to sleep under the squat rack.
Five years I worked this
split shift until I finished my college degrees and things slowly began to
change. During that time, many of my clients became "lifers," the
quality of my product improved and I was, to my surprise, in high demand. Was
this change due to adding a few initials after my name or was it a result of
having earned my clients trust? To be honest, I don't think my degrees had much
to do with it at all. Many veterans call it "paying your dues," and I
had finally made my last installment. I worked hard, showed commitment to my
clients and took every opportunity to educate them on how to achieve their
Robert's Continued Education Corner
CEUs and Certifications in One
Weightlifting Level I Sports Performance Coach: USAW is a two-day course
instructed by some of the countries best weightlifting coaches. This course
covers all the basics of the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk.
IKFF Certified Kettlebell Teacher (CKT)
Level I: Steve Cotter and
his team will take you through all the basics of kettlebell training including
the swing, clean, snatch, press, squat and more.
NASM's Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES): The CES certification focuses primarily on
training individuals to elevate the quality of feedback they provide to their
clients or athletes. This program is specifically designed to teach injury
prevention and recovery exercises techniques.
I took a chance and decided
to try to train full time. Before I knew it, I had a committed, reliable and
consistent clientele that I could count on. During that time, without knowing
it, I developed a reputation as "the educated one" among our members.
As a fitness professional, your reputation is the most important thing you
have. A successful reputation takes time, consistency and hard work. Once you
have the positive reputation you worked so hard for, you need to protect it
with everything you have.
With my reputation
established, I grew my one-to-one personal training business into an
eight-to-one group training business inside my own personal training studio. I
have worked for this opportunity for eight years and I still have the majority
of my first year clients training with me. Why?
The quality of your product: if you don't believe in
you, why should they?
Mediocre personal trainers
are a dime a dozen; however, a truly dedicated and career-based certified
personal trainer is hard to find. To elevate yourself to this level takes a
deep burning passion for educating our clients on how to live a healthy
lifestyle. I use the word "educating" because an effective certified
personal trainer teaches and educates their clients and knows that every day is
another opportunity to teach their clients something that will assist them in
changing their lives for the better.
The certified personal
training business is more than simply "making your clients sweat." With
every session, we get the opportunity to enlighten and mentor our clients. In
order to gain your clients' trust, you need to convince them that you know your
craft inside and out. Career trainers spend their hard-earned money on
improving themselves (CEU/CEC) as often as possible and look forward to the
opportunity to learn about program designs, new or updated training techniques
or advanced peer research information. Trainers that show their clients that they
are passionate and committed to improving themselves also show their clients
that they place value on the quality of the product they provide. The moral of
this topic: if you don't believe that the product you provide for your clients
is valuable, nether will they. Career trainers believe that they are the right
person for the job, that their program design is the best and that they are in
the fitness industry for all the right reasons. These beliefs lead the
career-based personal trainer toward truly make a positive impact in the lives
Two ears, one mouth: listen to your clients
Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove are
famous for saying, "You have two ears and one mouth for a reason, keep
your mouth shut and listen to your clients." Especially during the initial
consultation or assessment of a new client, the certified personal trainer
needs to allow the client the opportunity to "tell their story."
People love to talk about themselves because there is no other topic they know
better. The client has already come to you for help; they have made their
choice and are comfortable with your qualifications. Now is the time to turn
the spotlight on them!
Treat this opportunity like a
television interview. Lead the client in the direction you want them to go, but
allow them to fill in all the detail. Your job is to provide the client the
opportunity to regurgitate their life out on to your paper. Then you need to
organize it into useful information. This technique takes some time to develop
and is vital to a successful training experience. Interpreting our client's
information into their personalized program design is exactly what separates
us, the trainers, from our clients. They don't know how to use this information
to make their lives healthier. That is what we went to school for and exactly
what we learned while studying to pass our certification exams.
The assessment information is
vital to the beginning of a program design as well as throughout the clients
training experience. Every 12 or 16 months your "lifers" should be
re-evaluated to allow them the opportunity to appreciate your product and their
hard work. Again, you provide them the opportunity to talk about their new
goals, what they feel they need to improve on, where your program design might
be lacking and what your strengths are as a trainer.
Make your client feel
special! Not just in the beginning either. Your "lifers" should be
valued just as much as a new client walking into your facility for the first
time. Your "lifers" are the ones paying your bills, allowing you to
continue your education and maintain or improve your livelihood. Cherish them,
as they are the backbone of every successful certified personal training
When the opportunity presents itself, give back to
Over the last eight years I
have been given gifts by many of my clients for my birthday, anniversary, a
holiday or just out of the blue. My clients bring me back souvenirs when
returning from their travels, they purchase t-shirts with the athletic teams
logo I like on it and they always say thank you after their workouts. My
clients are grateful for the service I provide and, in return, I try to be just
as grateful back.
A great way to start showing your
clients some appreciation is by welcoming them as they come in for each
training session like you haven't seen them in years. Solid eye contact and a
verbal greeting utilizing their name are two ways to show your clients that you
value them and that they are important to you. Remember your clients' birthdays
and give them small gifts (something specific) that shows you were paying
attention when they discussed something that they liked. Remember your clients'
spouses' names and their kids.
Once or twice a year, give
your "lifers" a discount on their personal training package or add in
a session every once and a while for free. When you are reading fitness-related
material and come across something that relates specifically to one of your
clients, make a copy of it and hand deliver it to them. This shows your client
that they are on your mind more than just the hour-long training session they
have with you twice a week. Give your clients holiday cards and be sensitive to
certain religious beliefs. Every night before you go to bed spend two minutes
writing a few text messages or emails to a few of your clients informing them
of what a great job they did in their training session today or how great they
are looking due to all their hard work. A few minutes here and there, an extra
effort occasionally can go a long way with your clients. Remember, without your
clientele your business is nothing. Treat your clients as well as you would
like to be treated when you are paying for service but take it one step further
and really impress them.
All of these techniques I
have discussed individually will not do much to improve you or your personal
training business. However, a solid combination of them all will show your
clients that you are a serious and passionate professional; that you care about
their goals, their needs, their accomplishments and that you value their
commitment to improving themselves and supporting your business. Many of my
clients have been with me for almost a decade and during that time I have
developed some wonderful friendships. Stay the course, work hard, stay
committed and show your clients that you genuinely value them for everything
they do for you. If you do these things you will be a very successful and
career based certified personal trainer.
Linkul MS CSCS D* is the NSCA's Southwest Regional Coordinator
and trains over 100 clients a week in his personal training studio. Linkul has
his master's degree in personal training, is a certified strength and
conditioning specialist and a certified personal trainer with