Becoming a personal trainer (on paper, at least) is very straightforward and achievable these days – just find an appropriate course, put some effort in to complete it, and voila! However, it would be silly to say that a piece of paper makes an excellent PT. In a passion-driven field like that, being qualified is not enough to change lives and inspire clients to become the best possible versions of themselves.
To determine what qualities are essential for a good personal trainer, it’s useful to consider the question from a client’s perspective – which is exactly what you’ll find in this article. No matter what side of the equation you’re on, you’ll likely find the information below valuable and game-changing, so read on to find out how to spot the best PT in town, or how to become one.
Technique on point
First, the technical stuff – pun intended! A good personal trainer constantly checks and corrects the client’s technique, which is extremely important to help incorporate the right muscles and avoid injuries. In addition, a good PT will always perform at least a few reps of the exercise with you, unless spotting or correcting mistakes. Seeing something done right provides an excellent framework for mind-body connection and ensures correct form. And, if there is no demonstration – how is the client supposed to know if the coach is fit enough to do a few reps correctly? So demonstration, demonstration and more demonstration, as it’s very inspiring for clients.
Why so serious?
An excellent personal trainer possesses great sense of humour – and knows how to apply it appropriately to enhance the sweat session. People look forward to fun things, so making training fun and enjoyable is one of the most effective ways to ensure clients return time after time, despite the blood, sweat and tears – a good laugh defeats all of those nasty things. On the flip side, it’s not all fun and games, and appropriate balance between goofing around and actually putting in the work must be maintained, especially during group sessions where it’s much easier to get distracted.
Not trying to be vain, but a good personal trainer must put some effort into their own appearance. And it’s not about perfectly ripped abs and such, as those are not defining qualities of an excellent athlete! However, good hygiene, clean clothes with no holes and a happy smile are some of the things that are certainly expected. After all, it’s a customer-facing role, and should be treated as such.
Enough is enough
Encouraging clients to work as hard as possible is important to help them achieve amazing results – however, only bad or inexperienced PTs push their clients far beyond their objective limits, as doing so can be very dangerous and demotivating. If someone physically isn’t ready to perform a full push up with correct form, for example, there is absolutely no use in throwing harsh motivational techniques at them! Instead, it would be much more appropriate to offer a suitable yet still challenging variation, such as knee push ups, or even simply doing them against the wall. Progress is going to look different for every person, and good personal trainers know when to stop pushing and offer something different.
You know how good teachers remember every single student by name after seeing them a handful of times maximum? Well, the same is kind of expected from good personal trainers. Research shows that training is much more motivating if the trainer retains names and details about the clients – so one would be silly to ignore this mind hack.
The bigger picture
Physical fitness is just one part of the big picture, and good personal trainers acknowledge that! Great PTs also consider general wellbeing and nutrition of their clients, helping identify potential barriers and solve problems.
Knowing the limits
In addition to the previous point, being a good health professional, such as a personal trainer, requires staying within the scope of responsibilities defined by the qualification obtained. For instance, it is grossly inappropriate for a personal trainer to give out medical advice, prescribe diets (general healthy eating information and meal plans are fine though!), or heavily promote supplements and other goods without necessary disclosures, especially during training sessions. If you ever catch a PT doing any of those things, run away immediately and never come back!
Creating an exercise plan is one thing, but making sure a client sticks to it is a whole different story. A good PT checks in with their clients regularly – including between sessions – to find out how they’re recovering, whether the workload was too much/not enough, and if any additional support or information is needed. Genuine interest is something that certainly separates amazing personal trainers from mediocre ones!
In conclusion, a good personal trainer leads by example, shows great empathy for clients, uses appropriate motivational tactics, and also knows when to push further, and when to step back! Balancing those qualities can be overwhelming at times, but certainly comes with experience and receiving tons of constructive feedback. Working with people is never easy – let alone creating sustainable positive changes in their lives – but nothing is impossible for a good personal trainer who loves their job!