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3 Things You Need To Know About Working In Fitness

by James Anderson
Posted: June 24, 2016

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After 12 years in this industry I can honestly say that I’ve pretty much experienced all the ups, downs, and plateaus you can have as a personal trainer, writes Fitness columnist, James Anderson

It’s been an emotionally diverse and physically demanding rollercoaster ride to say the least. Although I’m sure it would be nice for you to sit back and read something along the lines of “Personal training is a job that is always fun and makes you heaps of money and you’ll live happily ever after” - I’d be stretching the truth a little more than I’d feel comfortable with. 

The fact of the matter is, if you’re going to make it working in fitness and personal training, then the quicker you know the real story, the better prepared you’ll be to make it in the future. I wholeheartedly believe that in this instance it’s better to get a little truth upfront, than it is to be lead by a lie. 

Now, it’s pretty simple - the most important thing that you need to watch out for if you’re going to make it in this industry is…YOU. Yep, whether you make it or not, this industry sits entirely within the scope of you. Let me explain what I mean by that. 

As a PT you’re most likely going to be working with clients on a one-on-one basis, which means that you’re going to need to be “on” all the time. You can’t blend into the background either, there is literally no place to hide – this can be tough as it’s a job that takes a lot of mental and physical energy which if you’re not careful, can lead to burnout pretty quickly. 

So, here are three truthful things that you  need to know about working in fitness if you’re going to make it in this industry. 

1.    Burnout

Things you need to know about working in fitness - male taking a break

I’ve seen it in other trainers and I’ve experienced it myself - taking too much from our bodies both physically and mentally without giving back. 

As I mentioned earlier, the fact that you have to be “on” all the time with clients takes starts to take its toll if you’re not self-aware to pull yourself up and allow yourself to recover. 

Think of it being similar to pushing your body to the limit everyday in training, without ever giving your body adequate time to recover. It’s fine for a short time but it can only lasts so long before you begin to lose the results you’ve worked so hard for (aka clients).

Take time out to relax, replenish, restore, and rejuvenate - do whatever it is you need to do which will allows the coil to unwind. Remember, just like training - you can only train (read: work) as hard as you can recover. 

2.    Consistency

Personal trainer with his fitness class in the park

If burnout is the end result, then a lack of consistency and increased complacency are indicators that you’re on your way there

What I mean by that is if the quality of your sessions is good one day, terrible the next, or if your mood is happy and jovial one day, only to be grumpy and moody the next – then you’re asking for trouble. And by trouble, I mean that you’ll lose clients. 

I’ll talk about what clients want at the end of this article, but for now just know that the more stable and consistent your sessions can be, both from a structure standpoint as well as from how you interact and engage with your clients, the more likely you’ll maintain your client base as well as ensuring a stream of new clients wanting to train with you. 

3.    Complacency

Fit girl in orange top and headphones resting and checking her phone

Again, this one comes when you’re either beginning to burn out, or you’ve lost your way when it comes to your personal and professional standards of what is an acceptable service you’re offering for the price that you’re asking. 

I’ll use myself as an example again considering I’ve made this mistake more times that I’d like to admit. So, after a few years in the industry I simply became too relaxed and familiar with what I was doing which lead to me becoming complacent (i.e. my standards dropped). 

Things like checking my phone mid-session, spending more time talking about myself than asking questions and listening to my clients, and talking to other trainers and members during their session. Overall, I just wasn’t fully engaged or committed to getting my clients the results they were paying good money for. 

So, they took their money somewhere else. 

Becoming complacent and taking people for granted is the fastest road to failure as a personal trainer as those people are the very people that allow you to pay the bills and live the life you want to live. 

On that note - DO NOT check your phone, ever. Not only is it incredibly rude to your client, but if you’re also on the gym floor then guess what, everyone else is watching you and no one will train with the guy/girl that doesn’t care about his clients. 

Set personal and professional standards and make sure you check in with yourself consistently to ensure you’re either reaching or exceeding those standards. 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again - think of your career journey as a marathon, not a sprint. Playing the long game in which you build a solid foundation for a highly profitable and rewarding career is what you should be striving for. 

I’d like to finish up by offering some final advice for you to think about 

Personal trainer career advice, group of fit friends

In life, there are six basic human needs that we all share and are the reason for every decision we make in our lives. 

1.    Certainty/comfort
2.    Variety
3.    Significance
4.    Love/Connection
5.    Growth
6.    Contribution

Keep these in mind when you think about how you can better serve your potential clients as if you can fulfill these needs that we all share, then you’ll have clients for life. 

  • How can you make a client feel a sense of certainty or comfort? 
  • How can you add variety into your training? 
  • What can you do to make them feel significant?     
  • How can you make them feel loved (or simply cared for)?
  • What does your service have to provide to make them feel like they’re growing
  • How can you make them feel like they’re also contributing value to you other than just financially? 

These are some of the most powerful questions you should be asking yourself consistently as if you’re always looking to offer value, you’ll have clients for life. 

Good Luck!

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James Anderson

James is the owner of a women’s only tribe based at Bondi Beach that focuses on strength and conditioning team training for optimal outcomes and long-lasting solutions.

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