3 Keys to Becoming a First Rate Personal Trainer
By Kelli Calabrese MS
One of my first missions in the fitness industry was to help entry level trainers have the best possible introduction to the fitness profession. I found teaching beginners very rewarding in part because I could positively influence their knowledge and experiences. One of my aspirations was to ensure students had a solid foundation to build upon what would hopefully be a long, enjoyable and financially rewarding career in fitness.
While I proudly have many success stores to share from the graduates of my program, it was brought to my attention that a majority (greater than 50%) of those who become certified, do not renew their certification status just 2 years later. What happened to those who started out so passionate and with high hopes just two years earlier?
I am sure there are many explanations as to why the statistic is so alarming. Possible a full time career took priority, or the trainer didn’t see the value in needing the certification. Maybe they had no time to participate in 15 hours of continuing education courses. The reasons (or excuses) go on.
My experience tells me that a great number could not make enough income to support themselves or their families and they had no idea where to turn. Most trainers expect once the certificate comes in the mail stating their passed status, the fitness director at the local club is going to start filling their schedule with clients.
That of course happens much less frequently than the new trainer would expect, despite their ambitions to begin changing clients lives. The difference between letting your certification expire, and becoming a first-rate trainer comes down to a three key things; knowledge, communication and being business savvy.
First, you not only must have a solid understanding of the exercise sciences, but you must be a perpetual student of fitness, always wanting to enhance your understanding, keep up with the latest research and provide accurate information. I am a firm believer in education and perusing higher levels of understanding.
Knowledge is power. Second, you need to master communication skills such as informing, instructing, and inspiring your clients to reach new levels. Training and coaching is a joint relationship and you must each understand your role and take responsibility in ensuring the desired results.
How you act, what you say and your physiology are all a part of communicating your message. Just like any winning relationship you may have, it takes clear and open communicating to make it successful. The third key is treating personal training as a respected profession and legitimate and valuable business.
Without strong business abilities, including sales and marketing skills, you are guaranteed to fall short and jeopardize a fulfilling career as a trainer. To be an exceptional trainer, you need to be great at all three. You can be the most knowledgeable and the best communicator, but if you don’t have the tools to acquire and retain clients using a profitable business model, you will fall short. Why am I sharing this information?
Because I feel it’s important to give back to the industry that I have spent the past 17 years building an exciting and professional career in. And I want to see you avoid some of the mistakes I have made myself and have seen countless trainers make.
Over the course of 14 years of health club ownership, being on the ACE faculty, teaching at NSCA Clinics, and attending, exhibiting and teaching at industry conventions, I have had the great privilege of running into trainers from around the world. In the past 6 months specifically, I have been communicating with over 10K trainers for a special project called Power of Champions.
During the recruiting for the very best trainers the industry has to offer, it again became clear to me that the number of trainers who possess all three keys are in the minority.
A select handful of trainers are doing exceptionally well in helping clients get results, putting forth a positive image as fitness pro’s and making a comfortable living doing what they love.
Over the past year, my personal mission has shifted from not only helping entry level trainers have the best possible start, but to facilitate the trainers who are in the field to reach new levels. In December of 2003, I was invited to the board of Directors for the American Association of Personal Trainers. After hearing the mission statement I gladly accepted.
The code of ethics speaks volumes for the integrity, sincerity and respect this organization has for fitness professionals and their clients. There is no question that developing personal trainers to be their absolute best is the paramount interest of the AAPT. The first 58 trainers who are the charter members of the AAPT are among the best of the best.
As a group we are dedicated to growing the AAPT into the most respected organization that Personal Trainers can rely on for the latest fitness information, networking, tools to grow their business and much more. As personal trainers we wear many hats and in a time urgent world it becomes challenging to continue thriving.
The AAPT in working with governing fitness bodies like AFAA, Cooper Institute, AFPA and ISSA is going to provide you with the three keys to becoming a first rate trainer and so much much more.
The AAPT wants to recognize those trainers who not only have absolute knowledge of the exercise sciences, but have the exceptional ability to use that knowledge to bring about positive change in others.
In order to best serve the Personal Training community moving forward, entering into a new age where the trainer is respected as a true professional, the AAPT will emerge in 2004 as a new entity that supports the needs of the trainers and will work to operate in alliance with the most credible certification agencies.
The AAPT will not compete, but will support the efforts of those organizations that can bolster the international public perception of the virtues of our chosen profession.
Kelli Calabrese, MS, - 2004 Personal Trainer of the Year for Online Trainer. She is a 17 year fitness industry leader, author, trainer, and international presenter.
Kelli is on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Personal Trainers, An Expert Fellow for the National Board of Fitness Examiners, and has attained over 20 fitness and nutrition certifications. Kelli is the co-author of Feminine, Firm and Fit and is available for fitness consulting. She can be reached at Kelli@KelliCalabrese.com. For more details go to www.KelliCalabrese.com