My Top Nine Tips To Build A Successful Career As A Personal Trainer - Chris Mason Performance

Becoming a personal trainer can be the best job in the world!

You love to train

You geek out on the science behind training and nutrition

And you get paid to take people through a workout.

It’s GREAT.

Right until the day comes when you’re not making any money, can’t afford to pay your gym rent, the gym hours start affecting your home life and you struggle to get leads for new clients or can’t even give away free sessions.

What do you do?

Well, what I’m about to do next is share with you some tips for success that took me from commercial gym trainer to owning one of the UK’s leading and private personal training gyms.

Remember It's Not About You

Understanding the person in front of you is THE biggest challenge that you have as a trainer. To get results with clients you not only have to know about nutrition, macros, weight training programs and energy systems training, but you also have to know about PEOPLE.

What makes them tick?

Why do they want to achieve the goals they’ve set out with you?

What limiting factors / potential challenges do they have in their life that could stop them reaching their goals?

Do they have children?

What is their current health status?

How experienced are they in the gym?

How many hours per week do they work?

How do they handle stress?

Do they sleep well?

What are their interests and hobbies?

If you start to better understand the client in front of you instead of spending all your time talking about yourself, you’ll have a better chance of building a portfolio of client results and a diary full of happy clients.

uNDERSTAND YOUR CLIENTS 'biG wHY'

Once you know more about the person, you need to know more about why they’ve hired YOU.

Sure, most people in an initial consultation will tell you that their goals are to ‘lose weight and tone up’ but all of this is way too superficial and without meaning if you don’t know why.

Here is a list of some of the real reasons people have hired me and my personal training team;

  • Because they don’t feel confident or comfortable in their bodies and will do all they can to avoid being seen (sometimes avoiding going on holidays, swimming, laying on beaches, undressing in front of their husbands, wives and partners)
  • Because they don’t feel like themselves anymore after putting weight on – they’ve lost their sparkle because of how they feel about their bodies
  • Because they’ve lost control of their eating and exercise habits because of a family / life event (death of a loved one, marriage break up, emotional trauma)
  • Because they avoid clothes shopping and hate looking in the mirror as all they see are things that they don’t like
  • Because they can’t keep up with the kids and get out of breath just walking up the stairs
  • Because they’ve been told by doctors / GP’s that if they don’t improve their health and lifestyle, their health condition will worsen and potentially be fatal.
  • Because they don’t feel comfortable meeting new people to start relationships.

I say this to my team all the time;

Never underestimate the impact you can have on someone’s life just by helping them get into better shape.

A personal trainer who is invested in results will be wanting to get to the client’s big why if they’re interested in getting results.

STOP GIVING AWAY SESSIONS TO EVERYONE AND ANYONE

I get it,

You’re desperate for business and are struggling to pay your gym rent.

But so is everyone else in your gym and I can tell you a surefire way of making sure you don’t acquire any new business;

Hard sell personal training to everyone you come into contact with and making yourself look desperate by offering everyone a free session.

They know it’s coming and you know it’s coming, with the answer mostly being no.

If you think about it like this;

You wouldn’t go up to a random person in the street and ask them for £400 (or more or less) without them knowing anything about you and what VALUE you bring so why would this work in a gym setting?

It doesn’t.

To become a personal trainer who is booked out with raving clients you have to build trust, demonstrate value and show why you’re the right person for the right client and eventually you will start to build a business.

There are many ways that you can accelerate this process;

  • Hold a weight loss / fat loss / nutrition / fitness seminar in your gym and be GOOD. Offer value and demonstrate expertise.
  • Once you’ve built rapport with a potential client and identified their goals / current problems that you can solve – offer them a way into working with you (this doesn’t always have to be free)
  • Create a weekly, fortnightly, monthly newsletter to give out to people who come into your gym with clear and concise titbits of exercise and nutritional knowledge
  • Be seen in the gym training yourself and practicing what you preached  - I remember once picking up a new client at 4x per week just because I ran myself hard performing intervals on the treadmill!
  • Create weekly Q and A sessions where you will make yourself available to gym members on a set day and set time of the week. Let the health and fitness manager, staff and sales team know that you’re prepared to do this.
  • Help perfect a clients technique on the gym floor – everyone has seen that guy throwing his back out attempting to deadlift. Go and offer a helping hand and be useful to those around you.

Which brings me onto my next point.

Know who you want to work with

I’ve been there,

When you first start out, you will do all you can just to get a booking in your diary!

Any client willing to work with you are worth their weight in gold right?

Right?

Wrong!

Sure, in the early days it can be hugely tempting to work with everyone and anyone but let me share with you a little tip that set me apart from other trainers despite not being a bodybuilder, not fitting the conventional fitness mould (in the early days) and despite me not being the happy clappy everything is awesome motivational cheerleader.

I knew who I wanted to work with and how to best service them.

That’s it.

If you’re a bodybuilder who is only interested in training clients interested in gaining muscle and hate the thought of training 50 year old Mrs Jones, then don’t train Mrs Jones!

If you have zero passion for running and hate the thought of a 10K, then are you the best trainer to advise someone on how to prepare for a marathon?

If you like TRX, Kettlebells and ‘functional training’ should you be working with someone on injury rehabilitation?

By refining what you’re good at and who you can best serve, you will have a better chance of specialising and becoming known for being very good at one particular niche as appose to being a jack of all trades but master of none.

Which leads me onto the next point.

HAVE SYSTEMS

At the very least here is what your client should expect from you or for you to have done;

  • Goal setting / initial consultation
  • A health questionnaire / Par-Q
  • A personal training agreement
  • Some form of body fat assessment / fitness test (if needed)
  • Food diary collection from which some form of nutritional plan will be set by you
  • A tailored training program that suits the individual capabilities, goals and takes into consideration postural / mechanical issues.

To become a professional trainer you must have a standard of professionalism!

Too often I used to see clients arrive for their first training session with their trainer only for them to jump straight into bench pressing, squats and deadlifts no matter their goals and or starting point and with zero conversation about food!

Without have a clear system in place, you will appear disorganised and not come across as the professional trainer that people want to invest in.

TAKE WHAT IS USEFUL AND DISCARD THE REST

In my early years as a trainer I invested what little money I did have (but mostly money that I didn’t) and sought out experts in the fitness industry that I could learn from direct through courses, seminars, workshops or internships.

I learnt from people like Phil Learney, Mark Coles, Ben Pakulski, Brad Schoenfeld, John Beradi, Charles Poliquin, Ultimate Performance, Alan Aragon, Layne Norton and whoever else I get my hands on in a constant mission to improve and develop as a trainer.

This left me with LOTS of information but little systems, until I began to trial, test and systemised what worked for me and my clients.

This constant refinement and thirst for progress lead on to me developing my own way of producing fantastic results with the hardest to transform clients.

And these are your clients too; the general population.

Developing and understanding your own systems is crucial if you want to become a top personal trainer to your clients.

As with anything you will learn or read; take what is useful for the people you serve and discard the rest.

BE PREPARED TO WORK HARD AND LONG WITH LITTLE RETURN (AT FIRST)

  • Be prepared to work hard and for long hours with little return (at the start)

There are two trends happening in the fitness industry right now that you’ve got to ignore if you’re going to be successful as a trainer;

  • You’re not going to work less and earn more
  • Becoming a trainer isn’t your ticket to earning £50 per hour at will, no matter what the company who you qualified through told you.

The first gym I rented space from was Fitness First at Hillsborough, Sheffield and I got hired alongside two other trainer to start on the same day.

Then a month later, two more trainers had joined.

This was on top of the three trainers, gym instructors and health and fitness manager already in the club servicing members and clients.

Sound familiar?

By the time the club closed and I’d been there for 3 ½ years, I must have seen at least 30 personal trainers come and go.

Failing to build and business and in most cases leaving the fitness industry altogether.

Unfortunately, your dream fitness business is not going to come easy and it’s going to be even harder if you listen to the guru’s who tell you that you can earn more and do less at the same time or that you can charge the same amount of money as an experience coach with years of results to show for their work.

And….

Maybe it’s just me and our clients but some of the clients i’ve worked with who are multi millionaire business Men and Women aren’t laying in a hammock strung across two palm trees in the Bahamas whist sipping a Pina Colada from a coconut.

They’re successful because they work hard and often long.

So you’re going to have to do the same if you want to build a long lasting fitness career.

uSE sOCIAL mEDIA BUT DON'T LIVE ON IT

It seems a given that I’d include a section on marketing and advertising on social media when the very reason you’re reading this article is because you click on the link I shared with you!

It’s true, social media can have a huge influence on your career and impact your ability to acquire new clients if you use the platform correctly.

But that doesn’t mean spending hours of every day posting topless selfies or endless posts letting your fans know that you offer personal training sessions….

…. It means adding VALUE. Show up everyday or at least every other day with something useful or actionable but don’t live on facebook posting your every move or latest offer constantly.

And because of Facebooks ever changing algorithm, video and live video works better for the reach of your post. These posts could be categorised as;

Training

Mindset

Nutrition

Something About You

Something In The News That Relates To Your Market

And being consistent. The less you’re consistent with your posts the less Facebook will show your posts to your audience.

 (personally I post Mon – Fri and take the weekend off to be with my wife and baby)

wHICH BRINGS ME ONTO PAID ADS

i remember the first time I spent money on paid facebook ads; boosting posts and getting likes.

I, like you may be thinking, thought that having more ‘fans’ would = more business

And I also thought my budget of a measly £300 for the month would be enough to lace my palm my silver and I’d been on my merry way.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way and if you’re a sole trader personal trainer and not Gary Vaynerchuk, then worrying about likes and branding will only distract you from what your advertising as a self employed trainer should be about – GENERATING AND ACQUIRING NEW CLIENTS.

So if you do dip your toes into advertising, then you have a couple of ways to set up your campaigns for facebook ads here;

  • Set up a Lead Ads Campaign to collect new client leads direct from Facebook / LinkedIn etc.
  • Drive traffic to a page on your website telling them more about your services and results and offer them the opportunity to become a new client or book an appointment.
  • Drive traffic to an article or piece of content on your website offering more value and offer them the opportunity to become a new client or book an appointment.
  • Use content marketing and re-target those who've engaged with your ads

Whichever way you choose to first spend money on advertising your fitness business, just remember that you HAVE to have something of quality to offer your potential clientele in the first place.

Remember, People don’t hire a personal trainer for ‘sessions’ or to learn how to perform a Turkish Get Up – they hire you for RESULTS, so you have to know how to get them to make a return from your paid advertising.

So there you have it,

Nine crucial tips for you if you want to build a serious career as a personal trainer in such a competitive industry.

Trust me, if you action at least half of these tips – those that you’re up against simply won’t put the required effort in to succeed.

And if you’re REALLY interested in learning how you get develop your career further as a top level personal trainer, then you might be interested in a day’s internship with me at my private gym here in Sheffield where I will teach you how we achieve these type of results with our clients who will also be the type of clients that YOU work with too.

Chris Mason