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Want To Be A Personal Trainer? Here's 5 Skills You'll Need That Have Nothing to do With Fitness

by Yvette McKenzie
Posted: September 28, 2015

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So you want to be a personal trainer? You’re interested in health and fitness, you love to exercise and have a good understanding of nutrition.

But while you can learn training techniques and exercise fundamentals, there is much more to personal training than exercise. In fact, some of the skills you will need have nothing to do with exercise at all.

Communication skills

Claudia Purley, has been a qualified PT for two years. She says that it is vital to have strong communication skills when you become a personal trainer. And she doesn’t just mean that you ‘talk the talk,’ you need to have great written communication skills too.

“When you’ve written down someone’s personal fitness plan they need to be able to read it and understand it,” she says.

Purley notes that it is vital that you can explain how to do different exercises. “This means that you can tell your client how to do an exercise, what muscles you’re working and what the benefits are,” she says.

On top of this, if you are arranging session times, giving advice or providing support you need to be clear and concise.

Active listening skills

An important component of communicating with clients is active listening. This means that during sessions you are focused on what you client is telling you.

“You need to listen intently so that you can understand your clients goals and create a bespoke program for them. Everyone is so different, so in order to thoroughly understand your client, you need to listen.”

Organisation skills

When you become a personal trainer you will be working with lots of different clients. This means that you need to be exceptionally well organised. “You have such a massive turnover of clients in a day, and as people tend to want to train either before or after work a personal trainer’s day can be very long,” says Purley.

She continues: “You can’t just keep smashing out the same routine, so you need to been very organised in order to keep on top of who you are seeing next and what their needs are.”

Purley says that she keeps extensive notes on each client to help her stay organised.

Motivational skills

Being able to keep your clients motivated is incredibly important when you become a personal trainer. This means that you need to understand a range of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, so that you can gauge what sort of encouragement your client needs.

On top of this, as Purley notes, being able to motivate a client is key, but teaching clients how to motivate themselves is important too. “You want your clients to be able to train independently, so you need to show them how to keep up the good work when you’re not around.”

Self promotion

Although many personal trainers work in gyms, being able to promote your self as a proficient trainer is a very important skill. “You need to push yourself to walk around the gym and promote yourself. You could interact with gym members and give them tips, or you could organise an event such as a fun run,” suggests Purley.

For many trainers, the best type of promotion is having satisfied clients. “If you are always thinking of your client and making the session all about them, listening to them, trying to understand them then you’ll definitely be on the right track,” says Purley.

“The best trainers are the ones that genuinely want to do the best they can for their clients.”

Check out our Interviews with Fitness Experts for more information about working in the fitness industry.



Yvette has over a decade of professional experience at some of Australia’s largest media corporations, including Southern Cross Austereo and the Macquarie Media Network. With a degree in Communications (majoring in Journalism), she covers stories on education, new knowledge technologies and independent learning.

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