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  1. #1
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    About becoming a personal trainer

    I get a lot of messages and questions from would-be and new trainers, and most dedicated gym-goers have at some point wondered about becoming a PT, so this goes out to them.

    Any questions or comments, fire away.

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    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    This episode covers How & Why We Train. A competent trainer will understand the principles of effective training, using them to inform their practice.

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    Registered User samarroyo22's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Awesome information!

    That’s is some great info for new or soon to be Fitness Trainers.

    I work with many fitness trainers in Visalia Ca, and gene have a site where I help personal trainers find more clients

    Love helping communities! Love that you are giving some key knowledge to people! Keep it up!
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    Loved your videos! Nice to meet you, Kyle! I can tell you are a very personable, knowledgeable, intelligent, well-spoken and patient (very important..) professional!

    Brief question: I see a couple of "top" trainers (in my commercial gym), training their regular clients while spending most of the sessions on their phones, and not paying strict attention to form... How on earth do they remain at the top of the sales quota list every month??? I wouldn't put up with this if I was a paying customer! They do seem very extroverted and good at making small talk...but they are not doing right by their clients! It shows a complete lack of respect to me.

    I haven't worked in commercial gyms in ages, so this is not a personal (or professional) question. Just curious what you think of these "indifferent" types...
    Last edited by etet1919; 06-28-2019 at 10:41 AM.
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    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Thankyou.

    This Q&A covers why most PTs are useless, though it does not cover how some of the bad ones are successful. Basically though: to be successful you can be great, or you can just be the best of a bad bunch.

    But in fine:

    Firstly, you'd have to ask their clients what they get out of it. What the client says always comes first, long before what some manager or some guy online says. Ask the clients. "I see you've been training with so-and-so for a while. Tell me: what do you get out of working with a personal trainer?"

    Otherwise, I'd question whether they are "top" trainers - have they been there for years, and are they booked out? Just because they're at the gym all the time doesn't mean they're successful in their career. The better trainers tend not to last at globogyms, they get annoyed with the restrictions and poor pay of the place and either quit the industry (only 20% last five years or more) or become self-employed.

    As well, remember that trainers get new clients from three sources,

    1. Referrals from a gym manager. Someone walks in the gym and asks to get a PT.
    2. By caring and cleaning, walking the gym floor.
    3. Referrals from current and former clients

    I got #1 for my first six months or so, after that we had a new manager who didn't like me, and in the following four years I got one referral - and he tried to take her off me the next day. But there were other trainers who were in good with management and constantly got clients just handed to them. That's why in my video I emphasised #2. I'm not qualified to advise people how to get along with management.

    But again: personal, and trainer. Both aspects matter. But it's a lot more common to have someone who's good at the personal part than the trainer part. Perhaps those PTs save their social skills for sucking up to management and just get handed clients.

    Look too at whether their clients stick around. Some could be very good at talking the talk and signing people up - but do they stick around? If someone buys a pack of 10 sessions, then so long as the PT doesn't injure them they'll generally do 6-8 of those 10 sessions - but do they sign up for another pack? Recruitment and retention are different things. Would you rather have 10 new clients each month, or the same 10 for 12 months?

    From the client's side, part of it can simply be expectations. Almost everyone these days ignores you by staring at their phones, I see it even with couples on a date, so clients may expect to be ignored - the trainer who came in and didn't stare at their phone and engaged with the person (either on a personal level, or by training them) would startle and confuse some people, but in the end do very well.

    But being ignored is, I think, the default in society today. This is why even though McDs is still successful, they're under threat from a growing number of gourmet burger joints. When everyone else is sloppy and crap, someone who takes time and cares about their work can do well, it's not hard to stand out.
    Last edited by KyleAaron; 06-28-2019 at 05:56 PM.
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    Thank you for taking the time to reply!!

    I can completely relate to "sucking up to gym management" as means for continuous success. When I worked at a corporate gym (ages ago), the most consistently successful trainers (sales-wise) kissed the right asses...but they also managed to retain most of their regulars. So they had the (right?) combination of shrewdness and the ability to "entertain" their clients with light-hearted banter and flattery. I think when clients aren't serious about training, and need "emotional therapy" sessions and a hand-holder, they are expecting the wrong things from a PT in a gym. But, like you stated, most of them don't last over a certain amount of years, or leave the business altogether. Some get into this for an "easy" buck and that's not the right attitude to have.
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  7. #7
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Well, nobody objects to an easy dollar. But the fact is that personal training is like any other career, it's going to take you 5-10 years to build your skills and reputation. Nobody does the first year of their law degree and then wonders why they're not a partner in a firm yet, nobody does their first two years of being a chef and wonders why they don't own their own restaurant yet, nor does a hairdresser do their first two years of apprenticeship and expect to open a salon.

    When you're new, you're not very good. That's fine - you still know more than most gym-goers, and it's fine not to know something so long as you say, "I don't know - I'll find out." Your certification won't teach you even 10% of what you need to know, but it will teach you where to start looking to find out. And each year that passes where you're looking for information, your knowledge gaps get smaller.

    It takes time. If it were easy to build a career in a particular field, then everyone would do it - and the competition from everyone doing it would make it hard. So it's never easy, and it always takes time, whatever your career.

    But on the other hand, personal training is a job where,
    1. You can genuinely impact people's lives. You teach an older person to squat, you give them their life back. You help a young woman to lose weight, you make it easier for her to have a baby. You make someone's bad back stronger and they can now pass that medical and physical test to get into some uniformed service, they now get a career they want. And so on.
    2. You can, after your first couple of years, choose who you work with. Not many jobs let you choose your co-workers and clients.
    3. It's reasonably flexible, so you can work every hour God sends if you want and make a lot of money, or you can do it part-time and combine it with study, hobbies, looking after children, etc.

    It takes time, but it has its rewards.
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    Registered User Ohhhimark's Avatar
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    Kyle, thanks for these just watched them/subbed and looking forward to the next episodes.

    I wanted to ask about walking the gym floor; If say you have 15 people on the floor and you manage to speak with half of them, had a chat about them/goals/comp sessions and then walk around, tidy the gym (The cleaners do the machines here). What do you then do to not look bored/awkward?

    This is one thing I struggle with most, once I've spoken to most of the people, I check the new member emails then go back down and I feel lost.

    We have a desk I sit at once I've done the rounds and I greet people as they come through.
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    ^^^ It's good that you're aware you shouldn't appear "bored," uncomfortable or preoccupied with your phone. A HUGE part of being a successful trainer is sales ability, which for the gym PT, means continuously focusing on building people skills by being on the floor as often as possible. You need to be seen, as well as heard!

    One thing I was able to do (when I first began...and management went home )was work out near the end of my shift. People would see I took my training seriously (although that didn't mean I always attracted like-minded clients). And of course I was interrupted with questions, but that was expected and welcomed from genuine people. I'm not sure you'd be able to get away with this little stunt I did, but it was just an idea

    You know who referred me to most of my clients in the beginning? A very kind (and cool) saleswoman I had gotten along with very well. She believed in my ability to teach and get along with people. This is a people business, and for the PT that genuinely wants to help people, having a genuine rapport with the salespeople will help!
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  10. #10
    Registered User Ohhhimark's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    ^^^ It's good that you're aware you shouldn't appear "bored," uncomfortable or preoccupied with your phone. A HUGE part of being a successful trainer is sales ability, which for the gym PT, means continuously focusing on building people skills by being on the floor as often as possible. You need to be seen, as well as heard!

    One thing I was able to do (when I first began...and management went home )was work out near the end of my shift. People would see I took my training seriously (although that didn't mean I always attracted like-minded clients). And of course I was interrupted with questions, but that was expected and welcomed from genuine people. I'm not sure you'd be able to get away with this little stunt I did, but it was just an idea

    You know who referred me to most of my clients in the beginning? A very kind (and cool) saleswoman I had gotten along with very well. She believed in my ability to teach and get along with people. This is a people business, and for the PT that genuinely wants to help people, having a genuine rapport with the salespeople will help!
    Thank you, that's very helpful. The biggest problem for me is knowing what to do after I've made contact with whoever is in the gym. I'd love for it to be busy so I'd have plenty to talk to and give advice but usually there's just not many people in there so I end up feeling like I'm just standing there writing programmes. It's frustrating as I don't want it to appear like I'm not putting in effort.

    I just don't know how to keep myself busy.
    I'm 27 not 49.
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  11. #11
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    If the machines are clean, clean them again. Nobody ever quit a gym saying to the front desk, "Well the thing is, it was too clean." You'll usually find the treadmills need a wipe-down every day, and it's not the ones not being used, it's the ones being used - the rubber moving creates static electricity which attracts dust. And people sweat on the vinyl seating for weights machines, and weight plates are left on the floor, or a bunch of 20kg plates left on the leg press, etc. So long as you're not cleaning stuff up while people are actually using it, the place can't be too clean and tidy.

    15 people isn't very busy. You're either rostered on a quiet time like 10-12, or your gym doesn't have a lot of members. If the former, try to do some hours in the busier times. In either case, get to know everyone's name and current workout and personal stuff. It'll take time. But you don't have to be with a person every moment of your shift, just some of it - so that people who want help know you're available.

    There can be awkward moments. There's many a time I felt like I was the retail clerk in some clothes store. "Just browsing." That's part of it, unfortunately, until you get busy.
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    Originally Posted by Ohhhimark View Post
    Thank you, that's very helpful. The biggest problem for me is knowing what to do after I've made contact with whoever is in the gym. I'd love for it to be busy so I'd have plenty to talk to and give advice but usually there's just not many people in there so I end up feeling like I'm just standing there writing programmes. It's frustrating as I don't want it to appear like I'm not putting in effort.

    I just don't know how to keep myself busy.
    My corporate (busy) gym would push constant assessments/a free training session on all PTs. This is an extremely important part of selling yourself. Potential clients are more likely to buy when they get can an idea of your knowledge, personal relatability, enthusiasm, training ability, etc... And even if only a few buy a package from this method right now, you're training on the floor now. Both your training and interpersonal skills are visible. Other members are looking on and are interested in what they see- an enthusiastic attentive trainer who knows how to treat people/clients!

    I was lucky starting out in an advantageous environment. There will be more opportunities within certain settings. Have you set up promotional "service" booths (ie; body fat caliper testing; specialized "body part" improvement wk/tips...)? You have to get more creative than the other PTs at these times...
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  13. #13
    Registered User Ohhhimark's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    If the machines are clean, clean them again. Nobody ever quit a gym saying to the front desk, "Well the thing is, it was too clean." You'll usually find the treadmills need a wipe-down every day, and it's not the ones not being used, it's the ones being used - the rubber moving creates static electricity which attracts dust. And people sweat on the vinyl seating for weights machines, and weight plates are left on the floor, or a bunch of 20kg plates left on the leg press, etc. So long as you're not cleaning stuff up while people are actually using it, the place can't be too clean and tidy.

    15 people isn't very busy. You're either rostered on a quiet time like 10-12, or your gym doesn't have a lot of members. If the former, try to do some hours in the busier times. In either case, get to know everyone's name and current workout and personal stuff. It'll take time. But you don't have to be with a person every moment of your shift, just some of it - so that people who want help know you're available.

    There can be awkward moments. There's many a time I felt like I was the retail clerk in some clothes store. "Just browsing." That's part of it, unfortunately, until you get busy.
    Thank you again Kyle. Now I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure my head coach nor the cleaner wouldn't want me cleaning machines for many reasons. That said, I don't want it to sound like I'm not prepared to do what's necessary but I'm just struggling to not look awkward. The other PT's look at me knowing I don't know what I'm doing, they give great advice but the gym floor walk is just tough.

    I took the above advice today, I walked around and spoke with multiple people introducing myself not trying to sell anything (Most pointed across the gym and said he's my PT). Then I rack some plates then I'm back to the front of the gym standing there just not knowing what to do. My introductory client wasn't here for another 2 hours so I take another walk around the gym, the open space is full with PT's and there clients.

    The thing Is Kyle it's almost like my only problem is how to fill the 'just browsing' stage. If I can crack that then I'm onto a winner!

    Originally Posted by etet1919 View Post
    My corporate (busy) gym would push constant assessments/a free training session on all PTs. This is an extremely important part of selling yourself. Potential clients are more likely to buy when they get can an idea of your knowledge, personal relatability, enthusiasm, training ability, etc... And even if only a few buy a package from this method right now, you're training on the floor now. Both your training and interpersonal skills are visible. Other members are looking on and are interested in what they see- an enthusiastic attentive trainer who knows how to treat people/clients!

    I was lucky starting out in an advantageous environment. There will be more opportunities within certain settings. Have you set up promotional "service" booths (ie; body fat caliper testing; specialized "body part" improvement wk/tips...)? You have to get more creative than the other PTs at these times...
    Thank you,

    As above I've been taking all of this in. I've read so many articles, blogs, podcasts, youtube vids on "walking the floor" as well as reading stuff from you guys and it's super helpful but something about it doesn't sit with me. Ideally I'd want to sit at the desk and look approachable as it doesn't make me look to awkward. I'd love to spend the whole day doing assessments/promo sessions for the first few weeks!

    My main problem is just not knowing what to do with myself after I've spoken with a dozen or so people, there's nowhere to go, it's a small gym.

    I'm going to start offering a free core class on the gym floor tomorrow, even if it's just to one person.

    Id love to see a 'day in the Life' of a new PT.

    Last edited by Ohhhimark; 07-08-2019 at 12:01 PM.
    I'm 27 not 49.
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    Originally Posted by Ohhhimark View Post
    Thank you again Kyle. Now I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure my head coach nor the cleaner wouldn't want me cleaning machines for many reasons.
    Do it anyway. It is better to ask forgiveness than permission.

    Also, the adjustable machines with weight plates, the plates stick on the cables. WD-40 on the cables, only needs it about once a week. And there'll be dumbbells where the plates are becoming unscrewed, and barbells where the sleeves are sticking (WD-40 again). Racks with bolts that need tightening. And nobody will be wiping down the tops of the racks. Also, there'll be some 40+kg dumbbells collecting more dust than fingerprints. And the dumbbell racks themselves will be collecting dust and grime, the cleaner's not pulling the dumbbells off one by one and dusting underneath each one.

    This sort of thing is basic maintenance which no cleaner, gym staff or manager ever does, believe me. There'll be dust on the treadmills, staff think members don't notice, but they do. There'll be plates on machines that stick on the cables and go "clunk", you ignore it, but it'll startle new gym members and scare them. There'll be a nut on a machine or rack somewhere that's sitting wonky. There'll be a bent barbell, or one with stuck sleeves that don't spin. There'll be a dumbbell with the rubber coating tearing off. Someone will do a chinup and see a line of dust stuck in grease along the top of a rack. There'll be a dusty corner where some scrap paper has accumulated. This is all sht that happens in every gym everywhere, the staff don't notice but the members certainly do, especially the women (let's not even talk about the toilets).

    A gym instructor's job is to care and clean. You want to be the person known as having the highest standards for caring and cleaning. What the cleaner or the manager thinks is irrelevant, all that matters is what the gym members and your clients think. Your clients are going to pay you, what $100 an hour or something. Will the cleaner give you $100 an hour? Will your manager give you $100 an hour? So who cares what they think? You don't have to actually insult them, but just go "yes, right, okay," and keep doing what you need to do to make the gym members and your clients happy.

    Obviously, don't be like those restaurants where you're just taking your last swig from the wine glass and some waitress is snatching it off you. Be available, but not obtrusive.

    During my performance review a few months in, the manager said, "We've noticed you've been giving your clients and members very similar workouts. I know you have a system, but..."
    "Oh! Have the members commented?"
    "No, they're new so they don't notice. But the clients..."
    "Oh! I wouldn't want to disappoint my clients. Are they unhappy?"
    "No, not at all. I talked to 5 of your clients, and they're very happy."
    "Oh. So... who's commented?"
    "Other trainers."
    "Ah. Well, I will definitely bear that in mind."

    Gym staff, especially managers, imagine that it is your job to please and impress them. It's not. Every dumbbell, every piece of carpet, the stereo playing shtty pop music, all the mirrors, every toilet roll in the loo, every cup of coffee you have in your shtty little break room, is paid for by gym members and clients. Without them, that place closes tomorrow. The manager could drop dead or quit and the place would still run, generally better in most globogyms. The cleaner could call in sick and the place would still open. Half the trainers could quit and become beauticians and the place would keep going. But without members and clients, it closes. Tomorrow.

    It's your job to please gym members and clients. Don't annoy the other staff and managers so much they get in the way of your pleasing members and clients, but otherwise ignore them. There are a few rare gyms where managers and staff are intelligent and mentor new trainers and raise them from nervous ignorance to confident brilliance. Since you're here asking questions, this is obviously not your gym. Your gym is full of numpties. So don't listen to them, listen to members and clients.

    I'm going to start offering a free core class on the gym floor tomorrow, even if it's just to one person.
    Every day, teach one new person a movement. Between chatting to them and teaching them (say) a plank, that's at least 10 minutes killed.

    Look, there are going to be boring and awkward times, no doubt about it. But boring and awkward times are part of any job.
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    Here I offer an overview of a training system. Hint: it's about more than sets and reps.

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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    [the entire post does not need to be quoted]
    This is great stuff once again Kyle.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by KyleAaron; 07-11-2019 at 02:59 AM.
    I'm 27 not 49.
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