Not all Personal Trainers are created equally

I’m not a high fan of the title ‘Personal Trainer’

Unlike other professions where the job description is widely understood and agreed upon, the title of ‘Personal Trainer’ has always struck me as particularly generic and often misunderstood. In part I believe this may be because the pathway into the industry is not linear or as well defined through degrees and placementments, and because it’s only in the last half century that general population personal training has emerged as a viable career pursuit. Irrespective of the root cause of this issue, I’m of the opinion that genericness of the term opens the door for clients to become involved with a trainer that is not well aligned to their goals if they aren’t a discerning consumer.

In the early days of establishing a PT business, unless the trainer has come from a high level sporting background it’s likely they will take a very high level approach to defining their value proposition. Not only does this present them to a wider customer group that may be perceived as a wise business decision, it is also reflective of their current levels of knowledge. Presumably a recent graduate from a personal training academy, is going to lack specialist knowledge because of their limited industry experience. This is why you’ll see significant variability in the prices charged by coaches both sharing the same title of ‘Personal Trainer’.

As the trainer progresses through their career, assuming they embrace lifelong learning they are going to find themself diving deeper into particular areas of fitness and training. This will happen for two reasons. Either the trainer will want to increase their earning potential and realize that being a subject matter expert increases your scarcity in the market for a trainer, or their natural curiosity will draw them to specific areas based on their interests. In the case of Spike Fitness my focus has concentrated largely on running, optimizing energy system development and programming resistance training regimes effectively for general populations in the 4 years I have been within the industry.

As a personal trainer refines their expertise and offerings this presents a lesser spoken challenge within the industry, knowing when to step away from clients in the best interest of their needs and goals. From the perspective of the trainer, clients are the lifeblood of their business and stepping away from a client or saying no to a lead can appear to be a poor business decision. However if a trainer wants to continue to improve their knowledge and coaching ability within identified areas of expertise, their roster of clients should reflect this. While a great deal will be learnt from books and courses, leaning into the focus areas with clients who want to improve in said areas will be critically important to continue professional development.

To overcome this challenge, trainers should strive to identify and articulate the key fitness/coaching areas that they can bring the most value to for their customers. By making an effort to distinguish themself as a subject matter expert in the industry instead of simply another ‘Personal Trainer’ it helps to manage customer expectation and avoid a situation where you’re unprepared to provide the expertise your client requires. Furthermore, when trainers have a clear value proposition it combats the pricing trap issue many clients find themselves in which is being drawn to the cheapest option without realizing that this is likely because the trainer has a low level of experience and knowledge.

While it is in the best interest of trainers to help overcome discussed issues, consumers can also take proactive steps ensuring their tainer selection aligns to goals and expectations:

  • Have a clear definition of your goals so that you can select candidate trainers whose expertise and past experiences aligns with your focus

  • Personal Trainers can be notoriously good salespeople. Don’t be persuaded on the spot, always research someone's credentials, experience and reviews before agreeing to anything.

  • Prioritize goal alignment over convenience. Many clients are drawn to the closest or cheapers trainers but they probably won’t be the best option.

  • Use your network and the wider community to evaluate a personal trainer. Instagram, google business pages and review sites are all great ways to get an indication of a trainer's quality.

I hope these tips helped and provided you with value. If you are someone who is lacking accountability and knowledge within the realms of health and fitness, please get intouch by clicking on the link provided below.

Speak soon.


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