3 Common Mistakes Made by New Professional Fitness Trainers

April 22, 2015

While I was working out today I was thinking about some of the reasons why new personal trainers end up abandoning a profession they thought they’d loved. There are several I can think of, but I thought of a few that might not be so obvious. I thought I’d share them and would be interested in some feedback.

Common Mistakes by FHT

1) They Specialize too Early

I’d say that many new trainers have a specific demographic with which they’d like to work. While this is not a bad thing, I think it might be a mistake focusing on it too early. Most of the major certifications have plenty of information that can keep a new trainer busy for a substantial amount of time. It might be better if they first focus on applying the basics before they look at specializing. After all, specializing generally requires a much greater knowledge of topics such as physiology, biomechanics, and behavioral science.

Additionally, specializing immediately excludes a huge potential client base. For instance, many new trainers like the idea of working with athletes so that’s where they place their focus. The problem is that causes them to look past the many people that are actually interested in their services! As a result, the new trainer becomes frustrated because they can’t build their client base. They end up focusing on searching for the athletes when there are literally hundreds of other potential clients all around them.

2) They Pursue the Wrong Kind of Continuing Education

Many new trainers are thirsty for knowledge. I know I was when I first started. I don’t believe that pursuing knowledge is bad, but I see too many trainers seek out knowledge in the form of specialty certifications too early in their career. For example, the program I teach prepares students to sit for the credential of Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine; upon completion many students want to immediately pursue the Corrective Exercise Specialist credential or the Performance Enhancement Specialist credential. In fact one school bundles them all together in one program! Talk about information overload. While I agree that those are great certifications, I don’t believe they should be such an early focus.

Instead of pursuing an advanced certification It may be more beneficial for new trainers to shift their focus on studying sales techniques or behavioral modification. Just recently I read the book Switch: How to Change When Change Is Hard and I thought to myself, “if I had read this book 10 years ago I could have helped a ton more people!” I got more out of that book than I got from most continuing education classes for which I paid hundreds of dollars. There are countless free resources online that would prove much more beneficial to new trainers trying to kickstart their career.

3) They Rely on Others to Provide Their Clients

Ok, I realize this one might be kind of obvious. Actually, it is only obvious to those that have been in the field for some time. I often get messages from new trainers saying they aren’t making as much money as they thought they should. My first question to them is, “What have you been doing to get new clients?” All too often they don’t have an answer. “I’ve been talking to my friends and wearing my shirt around town” was an answer from one of my past students when I asked him the question. There is nothing proactive about that response.

New trainers should be taught that it is up to them to get their clients. Rather, they need to be taught how to get their own clients. This goes directly back to number two. New trainers should first seek for education on professional and business development before they scout out advanced certifications.

In Conclusion

If you are one that has influence over new or future trainers, please share this post with them. If they can be made aware of the mistakes of others and come up with a plan of attack then there will be much higher quality trainers in gyms across the country. Each of these three points are things that I wish I would have known when I first started. If I could go back and pick my education path based off what I know now I could have saved a lot of time and money!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you have any feedback I would love to hear it!