The fitness industry needs better trainers

Have you ever been watching a TV show or movie from the 90s or early 2000s which featured a personal trainer?

School Of Personal Training Posted Apr 13, 2017 Future Fit Training

If you have then you’re probably aware of the type of the huge trainer with massive muscles and absolutely no empathy for their client. You might also cringe as you listen to the advice that they were giving out.

You might think that this is just television getting it wrong as per usual, but the truth is that a lot of trainers in that time period did not have any form of training. The industry was largely unregulated until very recently, and a lot of trainers became trainers by being in great shape and loving the gym. 

The industry had a poor reputation, and personal trainers were portrayed as dull meat-heads who couldn’t string a sentence together. This was unfair as a large amount of trainers were well qualified, and probably had more training than the majority of their biggest detractors. But there were still many thousands of trainers out there giving advice that they probably weren’t qualified to give.

Recently, personal training has been getting serious. The public have become more accepting of it as a legitimate job, and with more access to respected fitness professionals, the bar has been raised. Competition for personal training has peaked, and only the most knowledgeable and professional trainers will survive. As a result there is a drive for better courses with more rigorous testing.

It’s no longer good enough to be making a session up on the spot, or to give out the same advice to every client. This is because the clients themselves have become more educated, and they expect a professional, personalised service.

Client’s don’t implicitly trust the first personal trainer that they see and this is a good thing. Maybe not for bad trainers, but for fully qualified trainers who continue to learn this will help them to stand out from the crowd.

The future of training

This may be a bold prediction, but ten to fifteen years from now personal trainers will almost certainly have had to raise their game again from the current level. For many people, a personal trainer is the first contact they have with any form of health professional. With the standard of trainer knowledge getting higher and higher, their role will become more and more important.

Personal training is currently going through the same process that medicine went through in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is no longer a job aimed at the gifted amateur, now it is a professional industry in its own right, and things are only going to get better.

If you are looking at becoming a personal trainer, or are already a personal trainer who is worried that they are not qualified enough, then invest in high-quality courses.

To make it as a trainer today, you need to understand mindset coaching, nutrition and training. You can’t just parrot the opinions of your favourite YouTube personality, you need to have the knowledge to form your own opinions. You also need to understand how to properly programme a client’s sessions. Writing a session down whilst your client is getting changed in the locker room isn’t going to cut it. Getting more specific, you may also need to know a little bit about contest prep, if you are planning on helping people train for bodybuilding competitions (something that is becoming more and more popular with the general public).

Finally you also need business advice, talk to any trainer who has been in the industry for a couple years and the first thing that they will tell you is that they wished they’d known more about running a business before they started. There are very few paid-personal trainer jobs out there, and the ones that are available are often the the the poorly paid.

Ninety percent of personal trainer jobs are either self-employed, or a mix of self-employment and regular employment. If you have spent your life as an employee of a company, then becoming self-employed is going to be a culture shock for you. Handling your accounts, having a marketing budget, drumming up business, keeping a simple schedule, and dealing with customer service (arguably the biggest factor in job success) are all vital skills you need to learn.

Completing a business course could really make all the difference to your personal trainer business, and so will standing out as a knowledgeable person. There are very few jobs out there where you are supposed to be seen as an expert on day one. Finding a quality trainer course and qualification is necessary as you need to BE that expert.

Down the line

If you have been a trainer for 5 years or more then you are probably reading this nodding your head in agreement. You’re probably thinking that this is all great but it doesn’t apply to you anymore. You’ve done your qualifications, you’ve served your time, now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

But the truth is that the moment you stop pursuing learning, is the moment that you fall behind. You should be looking at your experience as something that can help you learn better, not as an excuse not to. Sign up to courses, join in on webinars, and buy course books, get a new qualification each year, and use it to become the best trainer in your area.

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