Personal Training: The Credentials Behind the Physique
First impressions are lasting impressions and can make or break a future connection and relationship. Individuals are drawn to each other for various reasons — attraction to energy, enticed by personality, etc. — begging the question every personal trainer and training director should ask: what is your reputation in the eye of the members? Do the members see you the same way you see yourself?
Are you high energy and explosive? Quiet but articulate? Innovative and cutting edge? Or, are you seen as loud and bossy? Stuck up? Crazy and unsafe?
I recently surveyed a range of fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors on their view of personal trainers. The one word that kept creeping up was “intimidating.” Of course not everyone has a passion for fitness, and that may contribute to gym-timidation, but so can the absentminded trainer sashaying around the club checking out his “guns” and perfecting everyone’s form.
Your training staff needs to be particularly self-aware. They are the stars of the show and members and potential clients are always watching. Being aware of their persona can save them a few hard lessons and earn them serious personal training clients.
Intimidation: to overawe or cow, as through the force of personality or by superior display of wealth — can be provoked at any shape and size.
Don’t be a “little giant.” Instead, express your knowledge, skills and expertise in a way that will attract new clients to you as a personal trainer. Don’t talk down to or use jargon in speaking to inquisitive members. Instead, meet them halfway. Showing that you truly care and want them to reach their goals will build immense value in the service provided.
Tips to keep in mind:
Tone: Speak clearly, professionally and openly when talking with potential clients. They need to trust that they can open up to you about their life and health history; especially regarding weight, which can be a tender subject. Show them that you want to help them change their life, motivate them to reach fitness goals and improve their overall health.
Talent: Exercise physiology and exercise science are booming majors for bachelors and masters degrees. ACSM and NASM are notable certifications for fitness professionals. Beyond that, there are endless opportunities for health specialists including sport-specific CSCS, special populations and exercise specialists in cancer treatment. Whatever your expertise may be, set yourself apart and find ways to express your passion to potential clients without coming across as boastful or bragging. Remember, they are ultimately coming to your fitness center to improve their wellbeing; it’s not about you, but about how you can safely and effectively guide them towards their goals.
Time: Take the time to prove how you will progress an exercise prescription or program. In today’s fast-paced world it is easy to move from client to client and lose sight of the non-paying members. However, it is the non-paying members that could become future success stories and testimonials. Taking a minute to demonstrate a new exercise for slimming the waist or a stretch that would alleviate back pain may be the key that unlocks the door to pursue one-on-one personalized training.
Being self-aware and showing sincere desire to facilitate an exercise program can change the stereotypical perception of personal trainers from “intimidating” to knowledgeable and motivational.
Lauren Pecora is a personal training director at Meridian Fitness & Wellness in Brick, New Jersey.