Working as a personal trainer brings together multiple skill-sets, and some are less obvious than others. The ability to program for the goals and experience of many different types of clients and teach them effectively and safely how to exercise is of central importance. However, you also need to be on top of administrative, business and interpersonal behaviours to ensure that your clients walk away from your sessions satisfied and feeling connected to your cause as a health professional and to their own fitness journey.
Here are some common mistakes that are made by many personal trainers, and what to do instead to provide top notch service:
- FLOGGING CLIENTS EVERY SINGLE SESSION
Some trainers feel that if the client does not walk away feeling thrashed every session then they will feel that they have not trained hard enough and so will sack the trainer. A client will not stay if training becomes associated with feeling unwell or overtrained. By all means, some intensity training may be appropriate to incorporate into training, but always allow the client’s needs to dictate the training.
- ALLOWING DISTRACTIONS TO INTERFERE WITH SESSIONS
There is an unfortunate stereotype of personal trainers jumping on their phones during sessions with clients. If you receive a phone call or a text message, it can wait! That is why you have voice mail. Ask friends, family and loved ones to message you during work hours and only call in the case of an emergency that justifies picking up the phone during a training session.
- REPEATEDLY RUNNING LATE OR CUTTING SESSIONS SHORT
If you are training clients back to back then it is reasonable to wrap up one or two minutes before the end of the allocated time, but no more! If you need a toilet or food break after a certain amount of clients then schedule in a gap between clients to do this. Sometimes circumstances make everyone late, but if traffic is an issue getting to your workplace then you should allocate time into your commute to account for this – it is not fair to expect that your clients will wait around or allow you to shorten a session because you are not organised.
- BEING DIFFICULT TO CONTACT
You work with people one-on-one so you need to be contactable. Clients will understand that you cannot attend to their every beck and call instantly, but if it is a work day then you should be returning calls and responses to text messages the same day. You run a business so you should also check your emails every day or second day at most.
- FAILING TO PROVIDE CLIENT-SPECIFIC TRAINING PROGRAMS
Not all your clients will have the same training history or the same injury history. Different clients have different goals and so all of your clients should have different programs. If you do not provide clients with programs then you are setting them up for failure, which is a failure to provide a full service, but also reflects poorly on your work. Cookie cutter programs will not be suited to the individual needs of your clients either.
- NOT FOLLOWING THROUGH WITH A PLAN
If you tell your clients that you are going to do something then do it! If you promise a client a new program by a certain date or a link to an article on something they have asked you about then you need to follow through. Personal training is a fun job, but it still comes with responsibility to your clients, and so to being true to your word.
- SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE
Nobody is perfect – however it does not reflect well upon you if your clients are constantly seeing you eating junk or partying on social media. They look up to you as their guidance towards health and fitness and so you should lead by example. This does not mean that you must deprive yourself completely, but definitely monitor what is public in order to maintain a professional standard that reflects what you recommend to your clients.
- CHANGING TIMES ON CLIENTS WITHOUT NEED
Life can get in the way of work for everybody, but this is a rare situation. To change times on a client just because it is more convenient for you is inconsiderate and may interfere with their plans. All clients should have weekly allocated times for training, and only should be changed when absolutely necessary.
- POOR ATTENTION TO DETAIL WHEN TRAINING CLIENTS
When a client is performing a movement then it is your responsibility to watch closely and carefully to look for any faults in the form, and consistently provide feedback to help it hold. In some movements you are also required to spot your client for their safety. Failure to watch for consistent errors in form could lead to a preventable accident or injury.
- TOO THINLY SPREAD TO PROPERLY ATTEND TO CLIENTS
Never take on more clients than you can properly service. Every new clients means more time spent on the gym floor, but also more time writing programs and attending to other administrative tasks, such as invoicing. Some clients with injuries or special needs may require additional courses or research. Every client is a new relationship to engage with and information to remember, and if you have too many clients then you will become drained, which will affect your overall performance with all clients. As you build your business, check in with the quality of the overall service and do not push beyond your personal limit.