The weird thing about personal trainer courses is that they don’t really prepare you for life as a personal trainer.
I sit here typing this as a veteran of the fitness industry, having spent the last two decades training men and women in gyms all over the UK, but the vast majority of the knowledge which helped me to create this business was never covered in the classroom.
Fast-forward to today and nothing has changed, because despite it becoming a more popular career choice, we still see a whopping 80% of new personal trainers quit the business within just one year!
I believe it’s this lack of preparation for the life which you actually get, versus the one which is advertised by the
lying motherfuckers companies who sell PT qualification packages to the public, so in this article I’m going to try to compile the 5 most important things which I wish my personal trainer course taught me. I hope it helps you.
Table of Contents
- 1. Your People Skills Are More Important Than Your Fitness Knowledge
- 2. Shorten Your Sales Pitch
- 3. Don’t Negotiate With Thundercunts
- 4. You Must Look The Part
- 5. Use The Side Hustle Method
1. Your People Skills Are More Important Than Your Fitness Knowledge
I’ve met stacks of personal trainers who really know their stuff, but many of them struggled to make attract clients because they had poor people skills.
Make no mistake, being a PT is a people business, so your ability to communicate with others plays a pivotal role in your potential success.
If you go to your local gym right now I can pretty much guarantee there will be a client-free trainer at the desk with the personality of a wet fish, which causes him/her to be client-free, meanwhile his friendly colleague who has a laugh with the gym members and communicates more effectively is making waves on the gym floor.
So remember this:
2. Shorten Your Sales Pitch
The first time I went to a fitness convention, I attended a marketing course where the lecturer asked us all to write a short sales pitch describing what we do.
Mine looked like this:
Fucking kill me now.
Because even though this was an accurate description, I was basically just trying to show off and make my client base as broad as possible (cuz money). I see people do this all the time nowadays in their social media bio’s, which come across as blander than bland.
The lecturer explained that the vast majority of people who work in the fitness industry have zero sales experience, and this is why most PTs struggle to sell their skills to the public.
He was dead fucking right.
Many trainers get caught in a cycle of thining they need to add extra fitness qualifications on top of what they already have, hoping that their new level will convince people they know their stuff, but man, I left this convention knowing that the next course I needed to attend wasn’t about how to train, or how to diet, it was about how to sell.
One of the key lessons I learned from this process is the importance of an elevator pitch.
I was no longer “Russ who sounds the same as every other trainer in 180 characeters or less”, I became “Russ Howe PTI: The Fat Loss Guy”. Holy flaps. This simple change revolutionized my sales figures – not because I was any better at my job, but because the benefits of working with me were now much clearer to the public, and the icing on the cake is that it fucking rhymed.
So my advice here is to develop your own elevator pitch which zones in on your main skill. You might even need to alienate certain client markets in order to focus on just one area (like I did), but the fact that you can sell your skills more effectively will mean you’ll earn more money than a bland-sounding PT who is trying to be everything to everyone and ends up being nobody to no-one.
3. Don’t Negotiate With Thundercunts
You’re gonna have to get tough if you want to be taken seriously.
People be dicks, and it can be quite startling to have someone attempt to haggle your price when you’re not used to that type of behaviour – or even worse, they’ll tell you to train them for free in exchange for social media posts!
And don’t even get me started on those motherfuckers who cancel a session at a moment’s notice.
Self-employment is filled with these type of challenges, so I recommend taking the time to establish some policies designed to stop this kind of shithousery.
I like to be very firm with my clients:
- My price is my price. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere.
- If you cancel a session with less than 12 hours notice you will still be billed.
Lots of personal trainers grossly undervalue themselves due to a lack of experience and/or a lack of self-confidence. Do not make this mistake. Nothing saddens me more than seeing a personal trainer offering sessions for $30, then reducing it to $20, then $15, then $10.
Remember, a good PT has the potential to literally change the life of his or her client, and that’s something which has huge value!
4. You Must Look The Part
Let’s be honest here, the fitness industry is superficial at its core.
We all want chiselled abs. We all want buns of steel. We all want biceps with peaks so big they have snow on them.
That’s why you must look the part.
We as trainers know this is superficial bullshit, but it works. We know that Usain Bolt’s trainer cannot run the 100 meter sprint faster than Usain Bolt, and that The Rock’s trainer isn’t more muscular than The Rock, and that in both cases their knowledge is off the chart – but the public goes solely on appearance.
Heck, do you know how many people have ever asked me about my fitness qualifications?
Seriously, none in twenty years. It hurts my feelings. Some of those courses were long and arduous. I’m not saying qualifications are useless, of course. You definitely need them in order to run a business, plus the more knowledge you attain the better trainer you will become.
However, the public really doesn’t care.
The customer just wants to find out what you can do for them, and the easiest way to show them that you’re the trainer for the job is to own a body which screams “I practice what I preach!”
5. Use The Side Hustle Method
The main reason 80% of new personal trainers quit the business within the first year is because they struggle to get enough clients to pay the bills.
This is where my side hustle method comes into play.
I used this myself when I was building my own PT business, and it’s something which I passed on to former clients who have transitioned to becoming trainers themselves.
This is where you pick up a simple part-time job to ease the pressure on yourself as a new business owner.
It should be something really straightforward, purely to give you piece of mind and help you pay the bills while you grow your business.
Mine was at a local supermarket.
I worked on the fruit and veg aisle, performing the heavy lifting of taking crates of fruit and veg from the freezer in the back of the store to the shop floor. They gave me a luminous green shirt which fit so tight it looked like it’d been sprayed on. I met some great people here, and even picked up a few PT clients, but the main benefit is that it allowed me to work on my PT business with zero worries. When my client base began to expand I switched my hours around, so my supermarket job decreased to 10 hours and my PT job became my main occupation, before eventually leaving the store altogether.
You see, one of the biggest mistakes new personal trainers make is to jump “all in” at a commercial gym where they have expensive rent to pay. They’ll usually take out a risky loan from the bank to cover a couple of months, and assume that they’ll pick up enough clients to catch back up in the future.
Unfortunately, most of them never catch back up.
If you go to a big chain gym near the end of a month you’ll find it easy to spot the PT’s who have made this mistake. They’re the ones who are offering special discounts and devaluing their business with sudden price cuts, and it’s a technique which very rarely works for anyone.
Fuck that shit.