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  1. #1
    Registered User brehbrah's Avatar
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    Judging personal trainers on appearance

    This is something that has me a little confused. How aesthetic does one need to be to be a successful personal trainer with many clients? Do they need to look bigger/stronger than potential clients and/or other trainers?

    I would assume a lot of people would pick their personal trainer based on looks. It makes sense that if the trainer looks like you want to look, then surely you should follow 'what he does'. And surely someone who looks smaller/weaker than you wouldn't be able to show you much as he doesn't even know how to get bigger himself. (in terms of joe average thought process)

    Why then was I approached by some "personal trainers" on the street offering free sessions. One of them looked way too small to spot me and the other had a bit of a gut. Do these guys actually get (any keep) any clients? It's making me think if they can make a living out of this then so could I.

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  2. #2
    Shut Up And Kiss Me E-Tank's Avatar
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    non of the trainers at my gym lift that i know of
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  3. #3
    Canadian in Korea Juggertha's Avatar
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    Do people pick their MBA profs from their portfolios? How about economics profs, are they judged by how well they've invested?

    Some do, some don't.

    If I saw a pro with dozens of years of experience training someone, but they were out of shape, that doesn't mean they don't know their stuff. But, that'd be the exception.
    I don't lift weights, I flex under duress.

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  4. #4
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    I would assume a lot of people would pick their personal trainer based on looks. It makes sense that if the trainer looks like you want to look, then surely you should follow 'what he does'. And surely someone who looks smaller/weaker than you wouldn't be able to show you much as he doesn't even know how to get bigger himself. (in terms of joe average thought process)
    No.

    This has been discussed many times before. It's trivial to come up with examples of famous coaches who look like sht now.

    Real clients don't judge you based on your looks, they don't give a sht. They judge you based on whether you demonstrate competence, establish trust and rapport. The only people in gyms who care what you look like are adolescent males, and they never hire PTs because they spent all their money on pizza, beer and NO-Explode and they know everything already anyway.

    You can make a living being a PT if you can demonstrate competence, establish trust and rapport. To achieve this you must actually be competent, trustworthy and have some empathy and friendliness.
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  5. #5
    Registered User JohnSmeton's Avatar
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    In my opinion a trainer needs to have been living the lifestyle quite a while

    example there is an ex competitive bodybuilder that is a popular trainer around here hes like 60 and while he still looks good ...

    another one I know is in her first year is out of shape a little fat actually and has no idea what she is doing

    anyone can get a certification, experience trumps over the cert in my opinion of course both are needed and experience doing this a long time is what matters most in my opinion
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  6. #6
    Train with intensity! JustiNtense's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    This is something that has me a little confused. How aesthetic does one need to be to be a successful personal trainer with many clients? Do they need to look bigger/stronger than potential clients and/or other trainers?

    I would assume a lot of people would pick their personal trainer based on looks. It makes sense that if the trainer looks like you want to look, then surely you should follow 'what he does'. And surely someone who looks smaller/weaker than you wouldn't be able to show you much as he doesn't even know how to get bigger himself. (in terms of joe average thought process)

    Why then was I approached by some "personal trainers" on the street offering free sessions. One of them looked way too small to spot me and the other had a bit of a gut. Do these guys actually get (any keep) any clients? It's making me think if they can make a living out of this then so could I.

    brb buying tight fitting clothing and tank tops.



    You know, the majority of clients just want to lose weight and "tone up", so none of that matters. If anything these people would prefer someone who doesn't have much muscle but looks "fit", they would feel less intimidated.
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  7. #7
    Registered User beau042's Avatar
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    Here in Australia in the last year or so personal trainers are popping up everywhere, this has the fact to do with being able to get your PT certificate in a few weeks.... Not ideal in my opinion


    There is a personal trainer in my gym currently, this PT is very over weight and unhealthy looking, I can't see how anyone can take advise from someone who clearly hasn't takin the time and effort to apply there knowledge to them selfs

    Practice what you preach comes to mind...

    Just my opinion thou. Could be very wrong
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  8. #8
    Registered User InsanelyFit's Avatar
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    Ohhhh look, one of these threads again...
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  9. #9
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Since we're having this conversation yet afukinggain, it's worth noting that the only opinions which matter on the subject of "why people hire PTs" are that of,
    • successful PTs, and
    • people who've hired PTs
    People who have never and will never hire a PT, your opinions don't matter. We're not interested in a vegetarian's opinions on a good steakhouse.
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  10. #10
    Registered User acrawlingchaos's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Since we're having this conversation yet afukinggain,
    You will have to excuse me, as I haven't participated in one of these conversations yet.


    it's worth noting that the only opinions which matter on the subject of "why people hire PTs" are that of,
    • successful PTs, and
    • people who've hired PTs
    People who have never and will never hire a PT, your opinions don't matter. We're not interested in a vegetarian's opinions on a good steakhouse.
    I believe that demonstrated practical knowledge is important in the learning experience. I tend to be fairly pedantic myself, but my knowledge of the body increased 10 fold with practical application. I find it difficult to believe that you are giving your client 100% if you consistently fail to pull it together yourself, or if you lack the interest in the field in which you work.
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  11. #11
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Practical knowledge of how to coach someone to do something is demonstrated by client/athlete results. Being able to do and being able to teach are two different things. Natural athletes make the worst coaches. The best coaches are those who had to struggle through injuries and lack of talent just to become mediocre. It's a poor coach who can't get someone to a better performance than they ever achieved.

    In any case, whatever the person is like now, you don't know what they did in the past. If he'd never been on the movie screen, you might walk into a gym and see this guy, and think to yourself,



    "Fat fck, obviously has no clue about bodybuilding."

    Results count. Client results, not trainer results. Clients don't ask me how much I've lifted or what injuries I've helped rehabilitate, they ask me what my clients have lifted and what injuries they've worked through. People who've actually hired PTs, or been a successful PT, they understand this.
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  12. #12
    Registered User acrawlingchaos's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Practical knowledge of how to coach someone to do something is demonstrated by client/athlete results. Being able to do and being able to teach are two different things.
    And I would imagine that the trainer who has the book knowledge and are able to perform would be better than a trainer that relies only on the experience of others.

    Natural athletes make the worst coaches. The best coaches are those who had to struggle through injuries and lack of talent just to become mediocre. It's a poor coach who can't get someone to a better performance than they ever achieved.
    These are just silly assumptions. You are making the same assumption about athletes being clueless as you are about those with pedantic knowledge being superior. So you can't be a natural athlete and have a clue?

    In any case, whatever the person is like now, you don't know what they did in the past. If he'd never been on the movie screen, you might walk into a gym and see this guy, and think to yourself,

    "Fat fck, obviously has no clue about bodybuilding."
    Red herring. If they have been successful in the past, than they would have demonstrated practical knowledge at some point.

    Results count. Client results, not trainer results.
    And I still believe, that regardless of the results your clients have, they would arguably be better if their trainer had better personal experience (all other things being equal)

    Clients don't ask me how much I've lifted or what injuries I've helped rehabilitate, they ask me what my clients have lifted and what injuries they've worked through. People who've actually hired PTs, or been a successful PT, they understand this.
    O'rly?
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  13. #13
    Registered User brehbrah's Avatar
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    I apologise for the repeat thread. I should have done a search. Sorry.

    I get what you are saying kyleaaron. And I'm sure this is true for athletes and other people who are in the know. In an ideal world everyone would have those thought processes and know who would be best suited to train them. But I'm sure this isn't the case for the a lot of people who hire personal trainers. Your Joe and Sue Average don't really have a lot to go on when judging a personal trainer before signing up for their services.
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  14. #14
    Registered User acrawlingchaos's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    But I'm sure this isn't the case for the a lot of people who hire personal trainers. Your Joe and Sue Average don't really have a lot to go on when judging a personal trainer before signing up for their services.
    I just don't believe this is true. Yes, MOST people won't care if you look like an Adonis, but I believe most people will have a reasonable expectation that you are AT LEAST healthier than they are.
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  15. #15
    Registered User brehbrah's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by acrawlingchaos View Post
    I just don't believe this is true. Yes, MOST people won't care if you look like an Adonis, but I believe most people will have a reasonable expectation that you are AT LEAST healthier than they are.
    Yeah that's what I was trying to say, sorry if my english isn't great. Most don't have much to go on other than aesthetics/looking strong etc is what I meant.
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  16. #16
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    n an ideal world everyone would have those thought processes and know who would be best suited to train them. But I'm sure this isn't the case for the a lot of people who hire personal trainers. Your Joe and Sue Average don't really have a lot to go on when judging a personal trainer before signing up for their services.
    It's true, most people have no clue what to look for in hiring a PT. They usually just go with the first person in a polo shirt who asks them to sign up. Whether they last as clients, though, depends on other things. People start by assuming you know what you're doing. It's like when I go the mechanic to get my car serviced, I don't ask to look at the guy's certifications or check out how his car runs, I just hand my keys to the first guy I see in a blue boiler suit. If you're working in a gym, people assume you know your sht.

    Now, if I drive my car away afterwards and it falls apart, okay then I reassess and start asking questions. Likewise, after a few sessions with you a client will reassess things, decide if you've demonstrated competence, established trust and rapport or not.

    I assure you, actual clients don't judge on appearance. I have never in my life had sixpack abs, big guns, or anything like that. And I'm successful. Not brilliantly, but successful. At my current and previous workplaces, there have been buff trainers who were successful, buff trainers who were unsuccessful, slobs who were successful, slobs who were failures, and so on.

    You may think this is not so, but you'd be wrong. So long as you're clean and polite people won't care much what you look like. If you want teh sixpact bro, go ahead and get it, but don't get it just because you think it'll help you get more clients, because it won't. You'd be better off studying causes and rehab of lower back pain or that kind of thing, that'll be a much more profitable use of your time.
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    It's true, most people have no clue what to look for in hiring a PT. They usually just go with the first person in a polo shirt who asks them to sign up. Whether they last as clients, though, depends on other things. People start by assuming you know what you're doing. It's like when I go the mechanic to get my car serviced, I don't ask to look at the guy's certifications or check out how his car runs, I just hand my keys to the first guy I see in a blue boiler suit. If you're working in a gym, people assume you know your sht.

    Now, if I drive my car away afterwards and it falls apart, okay then I reassess and start asking questions. Likewise, after a few sessions with you a client will reassess things, decide if you've demonstrated competence, established trust and rapport or not.

    I assure you, actual clients don't judge on appearance. I have never in my life had sixpack abs, big guns, or anything like that. And I'm successful. Not brilliantly, but successful. At my current and previous workplaces, there have been buff trainers who were successful, buff trainers who were unsuccessful, slobs who were successful, slobs who were failures, and so on.

    You may think this is not so, but you'd be wrong. So long as you're clean and polite people won't care much what you look like. If you want teh sixpact bro, go ahead and get it, but don't get it just because you think it'll help you get more clients, because it won't. You'd be better off studying causes and rehab of lower back pain or that kind of thing, that'll be a much more profitable use of your time.
    What age were you in your life when you became a PT? The guys I mentioned in my first post were early twenties. Looked like they had gotten their PT "qualifications" straight after leaving school and walked straight into jobs without once even attempting to get in shape. Yet apparently these guys are making their living from paying clients. If I was paying the small skinnier one to train me, I would have concerns about him being able to spot me safely. That's how weak he looked. Yet he makes his living telling people how to do things that he clearly hasn't been doing himself.

    Do joe and sue average just not see this when they are hiring trainers at the big friendly commercial gyms? It baffles me.
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    I never once said or implied that getting a six pack or big guns will get you more clients. What I did say is that the knowledge gleamed from personal experience can offer a lot of insight, and ultimately your client can benefit from it.

    Sure, all clients care about are results. The unfortunate thing is, for the first 6 months, you can have your clients follow a countless number of retarded protocols and they will STILL have results. So taking a client half way through the noob process doesn't indicate you know what you are doing.

    If you want teh sixpact bro, go ahead and get it, and what you learn in the process is an experience that will only serve to improve the quality of your clients training. If you are only interested in turning a buck and "being successful", than I agree.... why bother.
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    I really wish more people would evaluate their trainers and make sure they ask questions before hiring them, but the truth is that most people don't. The guys who look really fit tend to get more clients not necessarily because they know anything, but because they are usually confident and attractive and fundamentally people are drawn to these types of people - especially people with low self esteem like a lot of PT clients who are overweight and get judged all the time. Clients might watch you work out, but they don't see you with your shirt off (hopefully) - they see you with your clients and how you interact with people around you.

    When it comes down to it PT is a business just like anything else. To take Kyle's auto mechanic analogy further, I'd much prefer to give my keys to a shop where they look organized, professional and are busy (but not too busy to help me) - because it likely means they are decent if I don't know anything else. You don't have to be big or ripped if you are professional, organized and busy and give really good customer service. Now, they might just be good at marketing and actually suck at fixing cars but after the first visit you should be able to figure that out and decide if you're going to return or not. This is why we do assessments and free sessions, it is part of the sales process.

    So if you look decent (in shape - which doesn't always mean big/ripped), have confidence and can display that you are attentive, organized and focused on your clients, you will do better than 90% of your competition. The other 10% are probably doing the same thing you're doing.
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  20. #20
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    What age were you in your life when you became a PT?
    In my 30s. Yes, I had some life experience behind me, such as training people in the armed forces - not in physical training, but teaching and coaching have a lot of carryover skills.

    Yet apparently these guys are making their living from paying clients.
    It's hard to judge. The typical PT has 0-3 clients and lasts about a year before giving it up and trying something else. Longevity is the real sign that they're doing something right.

    If I was paying the small skinnier one to train me, I would have concerns about him being able to spot me safely. That's how weak he looked.
    This suggests a lack of experience of training partners on your part. Relatively weak people can spot you. The purpose of a spotter is not to help you do a million forced reps, since forced reps are useless. The purpose of a spotter is not to recover a catastrophic failure, since if you have a competent coach - even just yourself - the chances of a catastrophic failure are vanishingly small. The purpose of a spotter is to help you rerack a weight you could almost lift yourself, and you should be providing as much force as possible to do that, a lifter who when spotters grab the bar simply lets go needs to be shot. The spotter should only have to provide at most 20lbs of assistance. If they have the strength to load and unload 45lb plates from a barbell, then they have the strength to spot you.

    Of course this is different when dealing with people squatting 700+ and the like, but PTs will in general not work with people squatting 700+.

    Do joe and sue average just not see this when they are hiring trainers at the big friendly commercial gyms? It baffles me.
    They don't see much, because they lack the knowledge. That's why they hire the trainer.

    Given time they judge by their own results, and look around at other trainers and their clients, and their results. After some experience doing things, they start to get an idea of what's going on.
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  21. #21
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    Too small to spot? Do you know that a girl can easily spot you on the bench if you are benching 300+lbs...? Because I do this for my husband who is a PLer. Unless you are doing something incredibly stupid then you should never be lifting something so heavy that a spotter cannot assist in bringing the bar back up. As KyleAaron implies, the 2-man spotting is something for PL comps and not the ridiculous stuff you see in gyms.

    The majority of a person's aesthetic is a function of diet, and everyone has their own opinion of aesthetics. Guys on BB.com tend to spend so much time here that they forget what the normal person (and PT customer) views as strong/fit/good looking. Many customers would be intimidated by you (from your avatar) and young 20 year old men may be impressed but they aren't your customers.
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  22. #22
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    Just to interject a little bit. I think people who have never hired a personal trainer would be an ideal target audience for this question. You're asking (the OP that is) if a person would hire a trainer based on their aesthetics, so it would seem that people who have never hired a trainer before would give the most valuable response. We all know that appearance means nothing in terms of the knowledge a trainer possesses, to an extent. However, your clientele more than likely doesn't know much about proper training or nutrition or the questions to ask to reveal a trainers knowledge. It's a logical assumption that your average joe is going to be drawn to someone with a fit & healthy looking physique.

    Show anybody two choices of a trainer, A and B. Trainer "A" is a relatively muscular, obviously well trained person. Trainer "B" is slightly overweight, average looking. I would put money on it that 9/10 people choose "A".

    I chose my coach based on the fact that he is a very successful natural athlete and I've asked on his personal opinions with this. He goes shopping and has to carry business cards with him just due to people coming up to him and asking him about whether or not he is a trainer. That in itself, in my eyes, is proof enough that your physique would help with attraction clientele, at least initially until you're methodology spreads by word of mouth, etc.

    I'm not trying to undermine the knowledge of ANY trainer. It's obvious that people like KyleAaron, etc. know what their talking about. But at face value, my personal opinion is your physique will absolutely help you.
    "I don't believe in following any one training style. I couldn't tell what DC or H.I.T. or FST-7 entail. I have no clue and really don't give a ****. I go to the gym to train hard. I don't need to follow a ****ing "program" to do that." - Evan Centopani

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  23. #23
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    I agree with Cronos, of course everyone on here will go with knowledge, compassion, enthusiasm, dedication. A good trainer should have all of those before appearance, but we're also professionals and see from a much more complex point of view. It's been proven that human beings first notice with sight, and so making a good impression by being in shape can only help your cause. I still believe though that when it comes to selling a client some PT, it shouldn't be about how AWESOME you are or look, but instead it should be them coming to terms on why they need professional help in the first place.
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    CFT, FL Masters BB MarkS51's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Practical knowledge of how to coach someone to do something is demonstrated by client/athlete results. Being able to do and being able to teach are two different things. Natural athletes make the worst coaches. The best coaches are those who had to struggle through injuries and lack of talent just to become mediocre. It's a poor coach who can't get someone to a better performance than they ever achieved.

    In any case, whatever the person is like now, you don't know what they did in the past. If he'd never been on the movie screen, you might walk into a gym and see this guy, and think to yourself,

    "Fat fck, obviously has no clue about bodybuilding."

    Results count. Client results, not trainer results. Clients don't ask me how much I've lifted or what injuries I've helped rehabilitate, they ask me what my clients have lifted and what injuries they've worked through. People who've actually hired PTs, or been a successful PT, they understand this.
    Having trained for 35 years, become a competitive BBer this past year and CFT and attained an age where I've hopefully learned a thing or two, I agree with your remarks in the main. Sure, you can't judge a book by its cover and all that but we are, after all, talking about fitness which, if one practices what they preach, is irrefutably self-evident. One can, and I say should, be a walking advert for what he claims to know and if not, it is a fair question to ask whether he truly believes in what he is selling.

    So, for example, when I looked around my gym for a BB coach back in June I immediately ruled out the overweight trainers, the svelte guy who looks like a golfer and never lifts a weight, the all-cardio-all-the-time girl trainers and set my sights on an older guy in about the same shape as I at the time (196lbs/11%BF) the younger, very muscular and fit guy who just got sponsored by VPX and Debi Laszewski who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was ranked #3 IFBB Pro in the world. Now, I've been at this gym 12 years and I judged entirely by looks and what I've witnessed them do because before this year I never took a serious interest in competitive BB'ing. And you know what? I was right and so were you to a point.

    The older guy, though in good shape for 50, had never competed or trained competitors and was incompetent to that specific genre although perfectly prepared to accept the job and my dough. Score 1 for you, kinda. The younger guy is a physique/fitness competitor and openly stated he'd have to consult with Debi on the finer points, so he's a wash. Debi is who I hired and learned more from in five months than in all my years of self-teaching which is not a little, point to me. But overall I'd have to say my judgement proved correct in that I ruled out a half-dozen other trainers on sight alone who certainly were not qualified for the job and those others I chose and subsequently ruled out were due to my own inexperience in the matter.

    Like most people hiring trainers for the first time. They too, as you stated, don't know what to look for and so I've concluded I'm going to SHOW them. Because of my age, fitness and having survived a major heart attack three years ago, I believe I make an ideal trainer and example for the mature who want to get in shape. They may look at a 20something hard-body and simply not relate but a 40 or 50something can look at me and see what's possible. Not to say my goals are theirs', indeed I learned a long, long time ago that the best way to win a client is to listen and they will tell you what they want and all you have to do is give it to them, so their goals will be mine. But in the gym where I hope to win a berth there are many mature customers and when I walked in to talk to the young trainer manager, I was in better shape than any of 'em, him especially as he cheerfully admitted. I think you'd agree that although not proof positive of knowledge it certainly speaks volumes no? They do and I'm their catch of the year to help boost training sales to those matures because they're lagging in that category.

    And I'd also bet you stay pretty fit yourself judging by the conviction, one might say stridency, of your posts. Is this not another proof of a kind that those who really know ALSO do? Perhaps not in football or other sports but certainly in something that concerns the personal and in which one, as a matter of pride in doing a job well if nothing else, should lead by example? That's been my observations of 35 years hanging around gyms. The best coaches, like good fathers, SHOW how to do, not just tell. So, I'm not disputing your professional experience but I think for me being a walking, articulate and sympathetic billboard for what I recommend will help immeasurably.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by MarkS51; 12-07-2012 at 10:51 AM.
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    I've been Sue Nobody when I started out and will have to say I wanted someone who looked fit. Why would I want someone who was grossly overweight (and there are those trainers out there) as I needed to model myself off of someone and see what is acheivable even to my lesser commitment and degree. I didn't care if it was a man or woman either. As I learned more I moved on to a coach who has the BBing experience and has coached clients to stage as well as been on stage himself. He is 40+ but still in great shape and makes a lot of 20 somethings look soft. As you mature and gain confidence to ask the questions you need answered and not afraid to ask the ones that may not require an answer, you move your opinions but to me the fact that he has maintained his body for many years proves that it can be done and I can also do it one day. I am not there yet and I have no plans for the stage but do want a fit body when I reach my goals and he can provide both the fitness and nutrional aspect of it for me.
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    People who want to enter bodybuilding competitions are a vanishingly small section of the PT market.

    Originally Posted by Cronos
    Just to interject a little bit. I think people who have never hired a personal trainer would be an ideal target audience for this question. You're asking (the OP that is) if a person would hire a trainer based on their aesthetics, so it would seem that people who have never hired a trainer before would give the most valuable response.
    Not really. Only about 3% of gym members are interested in PT; if the trainers are lazy slugs and the team leader is an idiot, this may be as low as 0.5-1%, if the trainers are good and the team leader is organised, it may be as high as 6-7%; but generally it's around 3%. This has nothing to do with how buff OR how knowledgeable the trainers in their gym are.

    What you find as a trainer is that there are some people who however well you get along with them, however effective they think your training is, however much money they have - they still won't sign up for PT.

    On the flipside, many of my clients had a PT in the past who was utterly sht, who injured them - I've got one guy, more than 18 months now, a month after a shoulder reconstruction his old PT had him doing one-armed bodyweight rows on the bad arm. Guess what, it didn't help. You'd think that after a sht experience they'd never hire a PT again, and yet they do.

    People either have the mindset of paying for expertise, or they don't.

    Since 97% of gym members have never had and absolutely will not ever have a PT, asking them their opinions on what would make them hire one is like asking a bunch of Orthodox Jews what they look for in a pork chop. Much more sensible to ask the people who had a PT in the past, or who've just signed up or quit. Why did you sign up? If you stopped, why? If you kept going, why? etc.

    When you ask these question - as I do every day - what you hear is, "obviously knows their stuff", "enthusiasm", "passion" and "sincerely interested in me and my goals" come up a lot. What it comes down to is the PT demonstrating competence, establishing trust and rapport. Looks are rarely mentioned, except in a joking way, "and she was easy on the eye, that made it easier getting up early!"

    I had one client who was interested in looks, it turned out her last 3 boyfriends were PTs. She quit, I think the service she wanted I couldn't offer her.
    Last edited by KyleAaron; 12-07-2012 at 03:05 PM.
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    I wouldn't hire someone who didn't look incredible. But there is more to it than that, that's why finding a good trainer is hard.
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    Originally Posted by brehbrah View Post
    This is something that has me a little confused. How aesthetic does one need to be to be a successful personal trainer with many clients? Do they need to look bigger/stronger than potential clients and/or other trainers?

    I would assume a lot of people would pick their personal trainer based on looks. It makes sense that if the trainer looks like you want to look, then surely you should follow 'what he does'. And surely someone who looks smaller/weaker than you wouldn't be able to show you much as he doesn't even know how to get bigger himself. (in terms of joe average thought process)

    Why then was I approached by some "personal trainers" on the street offering free sessions. One of them looked way too small to spot me and the other had a bit of a gut. Do these guys actually get (any keep) any clients? It's making me think if they can make a living out of this then so could I.

    brb buying tight fitting clothing and tank tops.
    It's advantageous for a PT to look good, no doubt about it. But it isn't required. This topic is regularly asked in these parts, and you will always get replies that show very successful, great trainers who look like a dog's breakfast. There are also plenty of trainers who have great bodies and no clients. To an extent, having a great body can actually limit your client base and scare people off, because it's either intimidating or people think you were born that way and a big old meanie who doesn't know anything. I knew a trainer once who was a 250lb slab of meat, and the gym members kept complaining about him. He wasn't mean, in fact he went out of his way to be nice, friendly and helpful, but the members all found him intimidating. He's exactly was some clients wanted, and exactly what other clients wanted to get away from.

    Bear in mind that most people don't want to get swole. The primary source of people who go to the gym to get jacked are 16yo males, who aren't going to be paying $80/hr twice a week for PT. The average PT client is in the 30+ crowd, has been sedentary for the last 10+ years, and wants to get back their youth, be healthy and not be fat. Building huge muscles is not typically on their agenda, so having huge muscles isn't necessarily a selling point for the PT.
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