8 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Become a Personal Trainer

Everyone wants to be a PT these days and there are a million and one reasons as to why it’s a good idea. But it doesn’t seem to be common to talk about the not-so-good reasons, so here a few that I’ve accumulated over my years so far in the industry, and a few strategies that I have found to combat them:

  1. You become their counsellor.

This was my biggest wake-up call as a new PT as I took on-board the issues and emotions of my clients as my own. Naturally, I am someone who wants to fix everything and help in every way possible, and I wanted to help my clients solve their dead-end job struggles and their toxic friendship relationships. But at the end of the day, it was not my position or the reason they invested their time and money into me in the first place. My strategy to overcome this was by telling myself; 1) it’s good that my clients trust me to tell me their personal lives outside of the gym, 2) they like my company enough to talk to me for longer than they have to and they just want my ears, and 3) they do not expect anything else from me but to listen.

Psychology tells us that people are much more likeable when they are listeners (or even pretend listeners). Often, we humans just want to be heard, and as a personal trainer we have the opportunity to listen, and really listen, to everyone who speaks to us. What a gift!

  1. You become their nagging mother.

You must find the reeeeal reason your client is there. If your client is coming to the gym for personal training sessions, solo training sessions and following their programs and nutritional plans outside of the gym because they want to, not because they have been told to – you’ve nailed it. The only way you are going to do this is by delving into the real reason they are there.

I have had clients in the past (and probably still a couple of clients now) who need to be spoon-fed when it comes to looking after themselves. I’m talking, no gym or exercise unless they have a PT session and they only eat well or drink water when they know they’re about to meet me for a weigh-in or measurement. I completely cop this on the chin as my mistake. As their teacher in health and fitness, I have not invested enough of my time and consultation into why they’re on this journey, so they are not emotionally attached enough to the pain or pleasure factor of reaching their goals to commit to the process of getting them.

  1. You drink a lot of coffee…. Even if you don’t like coffee.

I don’t even need to elaborate on this… you’ll see. Be one with the coffee. Time it right, have 1-2 a day between 9:30 and 12:30pm and you’ll be sweet.

  1. You forget how to count past the number 5.

I often send out feedback forms, surveys and ask questions for general word-of-mouth feedback. I can tell you the most common thing that comes back is that I am SHIT at counting reps, and when I say “one more” I really mean at least five more or until your pain face kicks in.

You will get people asking “HOW MANY?!” with a semi-pain face on, and I would suggest rather than cracking under their pressure to reply with, “until I say so.” This is when you would look to the form failing and the key components of the exercise giving way, therefore not making it as beneficial as it should be, or even potentially causing injury to your client.

  1. Some days you hate everything and everyone and other days you feel like Gandhi.

You are still human and sometimes the constant ‘ON’ button for enthusiasm and positivity is going to suck the absolute life out of you. Other days you are going to get praise, “thanks”, good vibes and all sorts from your clients, fans and colleagues and the wind is going to be blown so far up your ass you’ll feel like you could take off like a helium balloon in a tornado. It is all to do with your attitude and your approach!

If you start the day off on the wrong foot or with a bad attitude, you’re likely going to take it with you all day and guess what? You’re going to spread it around like a plague. You must change your thoughts, which will then, in turn, change your feelings and your attitude (thank you Tony Robbins). Remember what I first said about being a counsellor? You can’t let a bad day of your clients become yours either – so you have to just be a sounding board. Lastly, find every opportunity to make yourself feel valuable. I ask most of my clients at the end of every session, “Did you learn something today?” or “Did you get a good workout in today?” If the answer is no, I have failed myself, my business and my client. And when the answer is yes, there goes that wind up my ass.

  1. You are your brand. All the time.

You may think that you are only ‘ON’ when you are in uniform, or gym gear, or coming from or going to the gym – wrong. You are your brand and your business aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the time. If you’re out smashing McDonald’s after a bender at the pub all weekend, that’s what you’re representing your business and your brand as. If you’re eating chicken and broccoli and the only bar you see is a barbell on a Fridee night but you’re rude to your petrol station cashier – that’s your brand, that’s your business. Every opportunity you are within eyesight of a person is a business opportunity. Think about it; smiling at a stranger, saying hello to someone you are walking past in a store, sparking up a conversation when you are waiting in line at the same checkout or even chatting to someone in the gym while they are working out… the purpose of the chat may not be to pick up a new client, but if that person ever wants a fitness professional or a PT – you’re it. But only if you represent your brand and your business well.

  1. You will never know it all.

Simply that there is so much knowledge and so many opinions out there – you cannot physically or mentally know everything. You must begin to respect the realisation that learning is continuous. The day you stop learning is the day you either die or you let your business and your brand die and fall behind the ranks. Keeping an open mind will keep you fresh, exciting, enthusiastic, and approachable and give you the power of applying different methods from your experiences to your clients – because not all clients are the same or like you.

  1. Your calendar will become your best friend.

When you get busy (and you will get busy if you can learn from my mistakes), you must be organised. Don’t be a hero and rely on your paper diary or your scrappy piece of paper that has your weekly to-do list. Get with the times and set up a Google Calendar or a Keepon account, then make sure they are synced with your computer, iPhone, iPad and everything you log in to. Your calendar can even send you a daily rundown of what you have ahead so you can just print it out and have it with you (if you MUST be old-skool).

So, at the end of the day, you just have to be passionate – know why you’re in it and why you’re doing the odd hours. Be organised and show a level of professionalism your clients deserve, after all, they are paying you their hard-earned cash that they could be handing over to any of the hundreds of personal trainers within a 100km radius. Be a good person. Don’t even think of it as a business, think of it as how you want to be portrayed from the outside – what you want people to think you are, you just have to be it, and then your business will come naturally.

Danni Robson practices as a Personal Trainer, specialising in Lifestyle and Wellness Coaching for longevity and teaching people to look after themselves for good. She has qualifications and interests in Kettle-bells, Boxing, Functional Movement but most importantly Life Coaching, Mindset, Wellness and Dietetic Medicine. She strongly believes the world can be a better place by spreading free knowledge, free love and free compassion for those that are less fortunate.