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Home » Personal Trainer Business & Sales » 5 Things Every Personal Trainer Should Know Before Their First Day

by Tyler Valencia, Ph.D.(c)

Passing your personal training certification feels amazing. You invested in an education package and obtained a certification that grants you access to the world of personal training. However, after six months of working at a gym, you realize that things aren’t as easy as the advertisement made them seem. There are certain realities of being a personal trainer, whether you work in a gym or start your own business. In this blog post, I will outline five things personal trainers often don’t realize before starting their first day. Of course, there are exceptions to these points, and it helps when a gym has a great onboarding process that educates entry-level trainers on success. However, this process can depend on the fitness manager of the club, who may be busy with other aspects of running a personal training department (such as sales, managing leads, budget, etc.). Taking a proactive approach will help you achieve success.

  1. Personal Training is 70% Personality and 30% Education

While education is important, connecting with clients and communicating a plan while providing personal training is equally crucial. During a complimentary new member session, the ability to pitch an exercise plan to the new member while establishing a connection with them is vital to get them to purchase personal training sessions. I have seen highly educated trainers with low interpersonal skills fail at the sales pitch because they couldn’t demonstrate the value of their services. On the other hand, some trainers with only one personal training certification can effectively make new members comfortable during the purchasing process by being personable. 

New members walking into a gym are not aware of the difference between ACSM, NASM, ACE, NCCPT, or what KIPS stands for. Instead, they evaluate the trainer’s skills and education based on their hour-long training session and how they spend that time with them. If the trainer can demonstrate exercises that can be performed regularly or show a great modification that helps them perform an exercise they never thought possible, it builds trust and shows that the trainer knows what they are talking about.

  1. Your Schedule is Not 9-5

A part of being a new trainer at a gym is doing floor shifts and being “available” at peak times. That means being able to train the morning crowd before work and then coming back to train the after-work crowd. While there is time between peak gym sessions, growing your business in the middle of the day is one of the hardest achievements, and the clientele that comes at those times is the most desired by everyone on staff. Who typically goes to the gym in the middle of the day? Stay-at-home moms and retired individuals. While this article is not about attracting middle-of-the-day clients, remember that it is possible.

Another part of not having a 9-5 is that vacation time or time off is often unpaid. While I have worked at gyms that do have paid time off as part of their benefits packages, it is often calculated based on sessions rendered during a certain time period and can be lost during slow gym months.

  1. You Start by Giving Away a Lot of Free Sessions/Time

Whether working at a corporate gym or starting a business, offering discounted or complimentary sessions is typically the norm with beginner personal trainers. Complimentary sessions allow new members to learn new exercises in the gym and allow the trainer to showcase their talents. Another aspect that isn’t as apparent as the previous two is the valuable practice being done. Personal training is like exercise or any practice, and you need more reps to improve. Being in front of different populations and personalities provides valuable learning opportunities on how to approach each session and how to deal with the intricacies of selling personal training.


RELATED: KIPS Personal Trainer Program


  1. Finding Your Selling Style Takes Repetition

As mentioned, personal training takes practice, and more importantly, selling personal training takes practice. There are different ways to approach each sale, whether you’re the hard sell closer, educator, or a combination of both. What’s important is that you find the approach that works for you. I have known successful trainers who were all three of the previously mentioned sales personalities. Each personality has its benefits, but making sure you’re comfortable with your approach makes the process smoother. If you’re not a hard seller and have trouble asking someone if they want to purchase training, there are other approaches that you can master. A valuable tip I was given as a young trainer was to just put the obvious out in the open. When starting a complimentary session, state that there will be an option to purchase personal training, and at the end, you can take the new member through your sales pitch. This tactic helps you and the new member avoid any awkward moments and focus on getting to know each other.

  1. A Certification Gets You in the Door

A common social media post I see is, “I just got certified as a personal trainer; who wants to train?!?”. While it’s a great accomplishment to pass a personal trainer exam, that gets you in the door at the gym. To grow your business and your monthly paycheck, a combination of experience and education will help you take those next steps. I know in the first point I said education is 30% of training, but growing your education base not only helps you train different types of populations but also helps you typically move up a pay scale (please note that not all gyms have a pay scale depending on experience and education). Within my first year as a personal trainer, I decided to take the TRX Suspension Training Certification and read various exercise blogs. This helped me attract individuals interested in this new fad (at the time, it was a growing fad), and it also came with a small pay increase.

Conclusion

I hope that the five realities I mentioned did not scare off any entry-level trainers because being a personal trainer has a lot of benefits. Being a personal trainer while completing my undergraduate education allowed me to work when I wasn’t studying and still make a decent paycheck. Entry-level trainers can make between $15-30 starting, allowing you to manage your bills and work more or less if needed. Another benefit that is often undervalued is the free membership. While in the grand scheme, it might be small, I know that some of the gyms I have worked at have had a $120+ per month membership! For many trainers, exercise is part of our lives, and this monthly cost can be a savings that can be used during the initial months of starting at a new gym.

Along with the benefits I mentioned, one of the greatest rewards is helping someone achieve a healthier lifestyle. Especially right now, when our bodies are being destroyed by sitting and exercise, it seems like a daunting task; educating individuals on ideas to become more active makes the strange hours all worth it. Helping someone achieve a lifelong goal is something that you will keep forever and be able to recall that moment at the drop of a dime. I’ve had the privilege of helping men get stronger to meet strength goals, and also, women reach a weight goal to help during their pregnancy term. Being a personal trainer has its struggles, but with each session, you can learn something new and eventually turn personal training into a career with great earning potential.

Tyler Valencia, PhD(c)

Tyler Valencia, Ph.D.(c), is the President of KIPS. While working for a Southern California online education company, he started his first business, Time 2 Train Fitness, which specialized in boot camp and personal training. Time 2 Train Fitness received the distinction of 3X Best Bootcamp and 2X Best Personal Trainer with the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Before founding KIPS, Tyler was the Vice President of the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) and Smart Fitness.

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