When I reflect the more than twenty years I’ve spent working in the fitness sector, I realize how fortunate I am to have been able to make a living by encouraging others to live better lives. When I consider all of the individuals whose lives I will have the opportunity to positively affect over the next 20 years, I feel energized and excited. When I consider the past, I cannot help but dwell on the things I wished I had known when I started my career more than two decades ago.
When I reflect the more than twenty years I’ve spent working in the fitness sector, I realize how fortunate I am to have been able to make a living by encouraging others to live better lives. When I consider all of the individuals whose lives I will have the opportunity to positively affect over the next 20 years, I feel energized and excited. When I ponder the past, though, I can’t help but reflect on the things I wish I had known when I started my career as an exercise professional more than twenty years ago.
Despite the fact that I value the lengthy process of trial and error that I went through, the purpose of this article is to impart some of the knowledge that I wished I had known at the outset of my career as a personal trainer so that new health and exercise professionals can have an even greater, long-lasting impact.
You may be contemplating a career in health and fitness, or you may be in the early days/weeks/years of your profession; regardless, the following are 20 years’ worth of ideas that you can use immediately.
The Business and Marketing Capabilities are Crucial
When I initially began working as a personal trainer, I believed that as long as I was proficient in the creation of exercise programmed, I would be able to grow quickly in my chosen area. However, I quickly realized that I would need to differentiate myself from the competitors in order to attract clients.
I had difficulty coping with this until I realized how crucial it was to market my services to the whole community, not just the fitness center where I worked. This was done by me by providing high-quality content on a regular basis (including blogs, videos, and speeches delivered in the community), and then ensuring that this knowledge was relevant to potential clients of our gym and beyond.
I needed to feel at ease starting up conversations with people inside and outside of the workout center. I also realized that my appearance, demeanor, and performance were all components of a personal “brand,” requiring me to define what I wanted that brand to represent and who it was intended to attract in order to go ahead.
When I originally began selling my time for money, I was unaware of the inherent limitations that came with it until I had established marketing principles and filled my schedule. My pay as a personal trainer was purely dependent on the amount of hours I worked. Each of us has a daily limit on the amount of hours we may work. I realized that in order to maximize the number of people I could help and the amount of money I could make, I would need to learn how to leverage my time more efficiently.
My influence and income stayed essentially the same over the period of many years. I was having the same amount of effect on the lives of the same number of people and getting paid the same amount for doing it. While I was gone due to sickness or when a client was on vacation, I did not get money. As the cost of living continued to increase, I started to worry whether I would be able to continue working in my chosen industry.
I was lucky to have been surrounded by mentors who showed me how to capitalize on my prior experiences and present knowledge to create new revenue streams that positively affected the lives of others. I am now able to create and market products that may be useful to thousands of individuals. After repeatedly submitting my application to become a speaker in the industry, I was finally accepted, and I then sought ways to increase the value of my services so that I could charge more for them.
Due to the expansion of my business abilities, not only was I able to continue having a positive impact on my current clients, but I was also able to have the same effect on thousands of more customers. Most importantly, I was finally released from the tension of not knowing whether or not I would be able to continue working in this sector.
It is crucial to invest in one’s continuing education
When I initially began working as a personal trainer, I was extremely proud of the knowledge I had acquired while obtaining a four-year degree in exercise science. In addition, I had completed a one-year apprenticeship as a resident strength and conditioning coach at the Olympic Training Center in San Diego, California, as well as received other certificates from renowned organizations. What else could one possible discover?
The answer is… A lot!
The first few years of my career were defined by my willful resistance to acquire information from others, which severely hindered my professional growth. I wasn’t able to truly embrace the process of increasing both my knowledge and my approach until I first acquired the strength to acknowledge what I didn’t know and accept that as a part of who I am.
I realized that the amount to which I was open to receiving information from several sources, such as conferences, mentors, books, and other publications, was directly proportional to the number of development and advancement chances I had. Despite the fact that these investments occasionally caused me to rely upon my limited financial resources, they regularly delivered considerable returns.
Being capacity to adapt to changing situations and circumstances efficiently is one of the most critical aspects in determining one’s degree of success. I eventually chose to make it an annual objective of mine to improve in the areas of learning, being, and service relative to the prior year.
You Cannot Accomplish This Alone
In the beginning of my career, I believed that it was “me vs the other personal trainers,” since we were in direct competition for clients. Why should I bother sharing my knowledge and expertise with them? Why in the world would I care about what they have to say? When clients realized that I was right and they were wrong, they chose my services over theirs. I am ashamed to say that throughout the first many years of my professional career, I held this perspective.
It shouldn’t come as a shock, but I started to feel like I was on my own little island. It was difficult to advance without the ability to reach out to individuals who were experiencing comparable circumstances. When it came to servicing my clients and establishing my business, I could only depend on my own personal experiences. On the contrary, I was apprehensive to commit to the idea of seeking a mentor. I got the idea that I would cause them trouble. Thanks to the advice of a more seasoned individual, I was able to finally escape the “island” attitude I had been locked on.
My mentor advised me to share my knowledge and experiences with other working professionals via public speaking, writing, and other outlets, as opposed to hoarding them for my personal gain. I began by visiting the fitness center where I worked. Initially, I was apprehensive to join since I did not want to offer an edge to my opponents. I quickly realized that the more I shared with others, the more they shared with me. As a consequence, I was able to deliver exceptional customer service and go farther in my career.
I was ultimately able to develop a network of exercise professionals from various regions of the United States. This network subsequently expanded to include fitness professionals from almost every continent, except Antarctica. My clients and I have benefitted tremendously from my willingness to share my knowledge with others and to listen to what others have to say.
Listening Is a Critical Ability
When I initially started working as a personal trainer, I couldn’t wait to share my knowledge with others. In any case, I was under the assumption that this was the principal service for which clients paid me. This style of thinking, of course, led to a fairly one-sided conversation between me and my clients, which went something like this: “If you want to lose weight, here is what you must do,” and that was it. It perplexed me when clients disregarded the guidelines I provided them. They were subject to my decision-making. They seemed to me to be quite slothful. Any activities that deviated from the plan were clearly the consequence of a lack of determination and commitment, and I would disregard their justifications because I did not trust them.
After many years of arduous effort, I was able to make an important discovery. When clients see a personal trainer for the first session, they are in a precarious position. They are essentially admitting defeat and confessing that they need help from this often younger and more physically competent person. Frequently, the goals that people feel comfortable stating have more to do with social standards than actual value-based criteria.
For instance, “I want to lose weight” is one of the expected goals that comes with hiring a personal trainer. Typically, a potential new client feels at comfortable while addressing this purpose. Conversely, a new client may feel much less at ease if they say anything along the lines of “I want to feel self-worth again.” My mental health and relationships have been worsening over the last several years, and my health has been suffering as a result.
If a health and fitness practitioner is just willing to hear the sentence “I want to lose weight” and then proceed, they are missing an opportunity to address the client’s true desires and requirements. In the previous example, a personal trainer who gives their client their complete attention throughout the first few weeks of their working relationship and who makes observations without passing judgement is able to zero in on what the client really wants and needs. Then, the personal trainer will be able to modify the client’s objectives, programmed, and general approach.
There is a high likelihood that the client would make substantial improvement just by attending their regular visits. This would be an important step in the right direction. Instead of moving exactly according to the set processes, maybe they might loosen up, enjoy themselves, and have some fun. When a personal trainer is able to zero in on a client’s true desires and requirements, the process of obtaining more objective goals becomes easier and more sustainable.
As I anticipate working in the fitness business for at least another 20 years, I hope that this retrospective has offered you with some helpful advice on how you may continue to develop as a person, achieve more success, and assist more people each year.