I recently took a walk down memory lane. My sister just passed her NASM Personal Trainer certification and it made me think about how I got started. More importantly, what are some things I learned that really stuck with me?
1.Mirror the Client
This is one I’ll never forget. If your client is a ball of energy who can’t stop talking, are you going to be shy and nervous? Probably not, you’ll try and mirror the ball of energy. Be outgoing and make sure your energy is high (but not looney). What about vice versa? If you get a client who is shy and has a wall up or is nervous about the training scene, it’s probably not a good idea to be intimidating. This is when you let your own wall down and let the gentle side out. If you are a gentle person to begin with, you may want to consider a “gentle” niche, or learn to bring the high energy, outgoing side out.
What if a client is having a crappy day? This one is probably an exception to the mirror rule. If this is the case, try asking the client why there day is going bad, and talk to them about it before the training session begins so it doesn’t end up ruining the training session.
2. Ask Questions and Become Friends
When you start out with a new client it’s a good idea to learn more about the client. Build a friendship. These questions will be alternative to the general, what kind of injuries do you have? Ask different questions that are more relatable, such as - How many kids do you have? How old are they? Where do you work?- You’ll find that you can build questions off other asked questions. “Oh you work at Ebay? That’s awesome I love selling stuff on Ebay, do you sell things on there?”
With all this said, there is a time to chat and a time to train. If the client is warming-up, foam rolling, on the treadmill etc. that’s a great time to chat, unless you like that awkward silence. If the client has a 3 min rest in between sets, great time for a convo. At the end of a session if the client finishes early, another great time to chat.
Also vice versa, let the client ask questions about you. Let the client know you are human also. I talk to my clients about that burger I had this weekend, or the ice cream I had last night while watching netflix.
3. Don’t Get Sidetracked
Clients pay for their trainer. Believe it or not your next client could be watching you train while he/she is walking on the treadmill trying to figure out who they want to hire to change their life. They don’t want to see the trainer who is sitting on their cell-phone, taking a selfie, looking at themselves in the mirror while training a client all at the same time. That’s buffoonery. They want to see the trainer who is paying attention to the client, listening to what they have to say, giving feedback, and being motivating. Be the trainer who listens and cares about your client, not the one who just wants the paycheck.
4. Develop a Niche
A lot of trainers think they can tackle everything from fat loss to athletic training. As you start it might be a good idea to get your feet wet in a couple areas, but once that foot is wet in an area that intrigues you, stick with it. If you love getting people stronger, learn about the best ways to get people stronger you’ll attract those kind of clientele. A good example is Bret Contreras. If you want any info on the glutes, he’s your glute guy. Be a “glute guy”.
5. Study Even When You Don’t Have To
This has helped me tremendously. I read, watch, and listen to the latest and greatest in health and fitness. When I say latest and greatest I mean reading, watching, and listening to reputable, legitimate sources. People who actually do their research and know what they are talking about, the ones who have a niche. If you want to learn more about hypertrophy, Brad Schoenfeld. How about sports nutrition? Alan Aragon is your guy. Wherever you get your continuing education studying from, make sure it’s from good sources.
6. Be Confident
If you go to school to get a 4 yr degree in Exercise Science, or get certified through an accredited association you will learn a lot. You go through all this time studying and taking tests, so use that knowledge! Don’t be afraid to use what you’ve learned. It’s going to be tough at first getting used to telling someone their lat pulldown looks like a seated row and to help correct their form, but once you become confident enough to do that they will thank you. Be confident enough that you know when to tell someone to stop, or when you know when to motivate someone, or to ease back on someone because they are about to yak all over the place. Wake up ready to change someone's life, the return is very rewarding.