6 Mistakes Personal Trainers Make and How to Avoid Them

There are currently over 300,000 certified personal trainers working in the US, and this number is expected to rise because of the rate of obesity and heightened interest in wellness and fitness.

 (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
There are currently over 300,000 certified personal trainers working in the US, and this number is expected to rise because of the rate of obesity and heightened interest in wellness and fitness. The fitness industry is becoming more and more popular, which means you can build a successful and rewarding career, as long as you steer clear of some common mistakes.
The truth is that being a personal trainer is not an easy job, and anyone who says otherwise is probably on the outside looking in. When you start your first job, you're bright-eyed and eager to train your clients. Maybe you just got your certification, and all you want to do is help people become the best versions of themselves all day long.
Then you realize that all day long means waking up at 4.30 AM for the clients who like to train before going to work and then coming back in the evening for the ones who prefer to train after work. It takes a while to build a client list so you can get into a more comfortable routine, but with hard work and our suggestions, you'll be on your way to making upwards of $60,000.
 
Not Specializing
Many trainers say that they like working with a wide range of clients since this means that they have to diversify their fitness programs, which keeps them challenged. Although enjoyable, unfortunately, this strategy is counterproductive.
Keeping a list of clients that's too diverse means you'll have to spend a lot of time and mental energy creating programs to meet vastly different needs, and it will also be more difficult to market yourself to such a wide demographic.
A better strategy would be to earn a specialized fitness trainer certification, which will give you better results and a faster-growing client list. If you focus on a more narrow demographic, you'll be able to relate to your clients better. You'll have a deeper understanding of their lifestyle, fitness goals, and struggles. This, in turn, will help you create better and safer programs for them.
 
Not Teaching Group Fitness Classes
To build upon our previous suggestion, you could combine any specialty with a group fitness certification, which means you'll be able to help more people at the same time. Maybe you'd prefer to work one-on-one and tailor your exercise programs to every individual. Still, especially when you're starting out, teaching group fitness classes is the fast track to building your client list and earning a bigger paycheck.
As a new trainer, more often than not, your income will be inconsistent. Group fitness classes offer a steadier income and schedule. You'll also have plenty of opportunities to showcase your skills to regular gym members who might be sufficiently impressed to book some one-on-one sessions.
 
Skipping Fitness Assessments
Once you start getting clients for one-on-one sessions, you might be eager to impress them with challenging training programs and decide to skip fitness assessments. This is a bad idea. First of all, it's dangerous. You don't know what health problems they might have that you need to consider when creating your programs. They might be diabetic, have cardiovascular problems or old injuries.
To avoid putting their health at risk, make sure you go through the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) and, based on this information, ease them into a safe and appropriate routine.
Second of all, in most cases, new clients will view the initial fitness assessment as a good workout. You don't need to leave them drenched in sweat at the end of a session to show off what an awesome trainer you are.
You'll also want to schedule additional fitness assessment sessions later on to show your clients how much progress they've made. You should write down information about each assessment including sets, reps, resistance, strength and, if they allow it, take photos of their progress.
 
Improvising Workouts
Because their schedules are hectic or they're trying to cater to too many types of clients, many trainers make the mistake of improvising their workout. An effective and safe training program requires periodization – dividing an exercise program into specific time frames, where each period is another step towards the client's fitness goals.
For instance, let's say you're working with a client that wants to improve their cardio endurance. In the first mesocycle, you'll focus on increasing workout duration, while in the second one, you'll shift to increasing intensity. Periodized training is safe and effective because it builds from one cycle to the next. Although improvised workout can increase a client's fitness level – they'll still be working out two or three times per week – without that roadmap that periodization gives you, their training will quickly plateau, and so will your fitness business.
 
Not Aligning Your Fitness Program with the Client's Goals
When a client starts working with a personal trainer, they usually have vague goals. They want to lose weight or "get in shape." To keep them motivated, you'll need to teach them how to view physical fitness as a goal-driven process. Losing weight or getting in shape are desired outcomes. Goals need to be more specific. They relate to how the desired outcomes will be achieved.
In other words, what actions do they have to take, and in what time-frame? You can also discuss what behaviors might be sabotaging their efforts. Once you've agreed on a set of goals, you can create a program that aligns with those goals.
 
Forgetting to Document
You need to keep a written record of the client's progress. You may think you have it all in your head, but that's just another common mistake. Here, we're not referring only to exercise modes, sets, and reps. You should also write down your clients' areas of struggle and success. They might make comments like "I'm under a lot of stress" or "I like/don't like this exercise."
This is valuable information that will help you connect with them on a more personal level and design programs that will keep them engaged and motivated.