mastering personal trainer skills

the power of personal trainer skills for a flourishing online and in-person fitness business

Personal Trainer Skills
David Bohmiller

by David Bohmiller
Co-founder of Epicenter Training

Harnessing Personal Trainer Skills!

If you're an aspiring, employed, or independent personal trainer looking to build and grow your client base in today's competitive fitness industry, you'll need a robust set of skills. Your success depends not only on your expertise in exercise science but also on your ability to attract and retain clients while building a sustainable business. In this article, we'll explore the key personal trainer skills you need to flourish in both online and in-person training settings.

Here are 12 skill areas to focus on for personal trainer success!

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1. Expertise in exercise science

A solid foundation in exercise science is paramount. Your clients trust you to help them achieve their fitness goals safely and effectively. Stay up-to-date with the latest research, certifications, and industry trends. Continuously improve your knowledge to offer well-informed guidance and support.

Certifying organizations often provide a wealth of information to prepare you for the technical aspects your personal trainer exam and for application as you begin working with clients. Keep current by earning CEUs (Continuing Education Units) or PDUs (Professional Development Units) in defined categories.

As an example, categories for NSCA recertification include:

  • Category A - Attendance
  • Category B - Share Your Expertise
  • Category C - Educational Activities
  • Category D - NSCA Quizzes & Assessments

It's typical that some of your CEUs must come from resources made available by your certifying organization. While others might be earned through a variety of accredited, pre-approved, or other professional development options and providers.

2. effective communication and interpersonal skills

Building a connection with your clients is crucial. Effective communication, active listening, and empathy are vital personal trainer skills. Understand your clients' needs, preferences, and concerns, and tailor your approach to meet their individual goals.

"we have 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."


3. business and marketing acumen

To attract and retain clients, you'll need to run your personal training business efficiently. Develop a solid business plan, including pricing strategies, financial management, and marketing techniques. Online marketing, social media presence, and effective networking can help you stand out in a competitive field.

In corporate gym settings, the bulk of this is decided for you. Yet, as an independent personal trainer, you'll have several more hats to wear than your usual. The learning curve can be steep and riddled with obstacles. It's helpful to have a community of professionals and peers to share the journey and clear the way.

Join the Epicenter Training Online Academy Today!

4. technological proficiency for online training

In the digital age, the ability to navigate and leverage technology is a must. If you offer online training, you need to be proficient with video conferencing tools, fitness apps, and other software relevant to remote coaching. Ensure a seamless online experience for your clients.

Each new software you add can contribute to your learning curve and that of your clients. In your diligence, be sure to consider the types of learning documentation available to you in articles and tutorials, presence and accessibility of video courses, and the responsiveness of customer support.

5. adaptability and problem-solving

The fitness industry is ever-evolving. Adaptability and problem-solving skills are vital. Be prepared to pivot your strategies to accommodate changes in the market, client preferences, or unforeseen circumstances, such as pandemics.

"it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. it is the one that is most adaptable to change."

charles darwin

6. client-centered approach

Clients are at the core of your business. Tailor your services to meet their unique needs and preferences. Provide them with personalized training plans, progress tracking, and timely feedback. Happy clients are more likely to stay and refer others.

Professional Skill Development

7. time management and organization

Effectively managing your time is essential for both online and in-person services. Develop good time management habits to optimize your schedule, allowing for efficient client sessions, marketing efforts, and personal development.

Where one's schedule may be bare, when just starting out, it's tempting to say yes to every meeting with a prospect or client. If not proactively considering the quality of your scheduling, it's easy to find yourself working at 5am and still at 10pm. While manageable, for some, in the short-term, when thinking of longevity and enjoyability of career, too much burning of the candle at both ends can lead to overwhelm and burnout.

We'll be discussing this in detail, and providing relevant resources, inside the Epicenter Training Online Academy.

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8. certifications and continuous learning

The fitness industry is highly competitive and constantly evolving. Maintain relevant certifications and engage in continuous learning to stay at the forefront of industry knowledge. This not only enhances your credibility but also ensures you provide the best service to your clients.

Co-founder perspective:

  • "My undergraduate degree in Physical Education certainly gave me an advantage early in my career. I was confident in my knowledge and able to communicate complex concepts in ways that clients could easily understand. While I'm still proud of that piece of my academic education, with so much scientific research having been conducted since, it's vital to stay current in continuous learning and earning CEUs that are reflective of today's knowledge." - David Bohmiller

9. client retention strategies

Attracting new clients is key, but retaining existing clients is equally important. Implement client retention strategies such as loyalty programs, progress tracking, and special incentives for long-term commitment.

While new business sales are essential, without focus on the quality of your client fulfillment, it's easy to get stuck on a hamster wheel of needing new clients every month. Relieve pressure, and avoid desperation, by delivering exceptional experiences from your 1st meeting and into each training session.

10. emotional intelligence

Understanding your clients' emotions and motivations, as well as your own, is a powerful personal trainer skill. Empathize with their challenges and triumphs, creating a supportive and motivating environment.

11. networking and collaboration

Collaborating with other fitness professionals and wellness experts can open new opportunities. Networking can lead to referrals and business growth, so build a strong network within the fitness community.

LinkedIn is a favorite networking resource of ours. Visit our links below to follow, connect, and engage in conversation.

Laura MahoneyLaura
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Michael PoirierMike
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David BohmillerBoh
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12. resilience and self-care

Maintaining your own well-being is essential to providing top-notch services. Develop resilience to handle stress and setbacks. Prioritize self-care to ensure you're at your best for your clients.

"almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."

anne lamott

key takeaways of personal trainer skills

As a personal trainer looking to build and sustain your own independent business, a blend of hard and soft skills is essential. A deep understanding of exercise science provides a solid foundation, but equally important are the soft skills such as communication, adaptability, and empathy. Combining these skills with effective business management and marketing can help you thrive in the competitive fitness landscape. Keep learning, growing, and adapting to ensure long-term success as a personal trainer.

here are 4 resources to help you build your business today!

1) resource bundle

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2) sales playbook

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3) online academy

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4) strategy session

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