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Traits of a Successful Personal Trainer

Jun 07, 2017


By: Bret Lusis

Traits of a Successful Personal Trainer

Intro: Today in the fitness industry it is not unusual to see clients leaving their trainers within a month. Common excuses range from, “Money is a little tight,” to “Work is crazy.” Yes, clients could be experiencing certain issues, but odds are the reason they didn't commit is that they did not see the value in your services. Imagine this&.

Would you like to buy a $400-dollar cup of coffee?


What if I told you that cup of coffee will give you the best sex of your life, build confidence, and add nine-years to your life? Yes, really, nine-years&. READ HERE. Today I would like to review what I've dubbed the dubbed The 3 P's to make a trainer successful.

The 3 P's: Personalize, Prioritize, Prepare


The other day at the gym I thought it would be interesting to eavesdrop on some conversations between trainers and clients. Most of the conversations were banal with the trainer’s halfhearted attempt to motivate, “Five more reps, 1,2,3,4,5” – as if the client is paying $120 for a personal counter. The conversations were very mundane, to say the least. When I train at Show Up Fitness, I always make my clients a priority and take the time to develop a relationship; no two clients are the same so why would you train them like they are (Laziness, or is the industry filled with shitty trainers?) I'll research what they enjoy e.g. if your client loves the Seattle Seahawks, learn about them – I don't care if you don't watch or even like football, the sessions are not about you, LEARN ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS! Your clients notice that you're listening and care about their interests; getting stronger or losing fat may be why they signed up, but they'll remain a client for life if you add value by establishing a positive relationship. I enjoy my clients so much that I take them out for dinner or drinks, at least the ones who SHOW UP. They're investing into their lifestyle and future by paying you, why not invest back into them?

Next time you are in the gym pay attention to the trainer who has 18 clients' versus the one who has two. I guarantee the booked trainer has unique bonds with each client, as Bret Bartholomew says, “You must earn the trust of your athlete,” which he calls the BUY IN.


I still remember the first client who signed up with me. At a corporate gym like Crunch or Equinox, trainers are required to prospect and get their own clients, or if they're lucky, sometimes be handed clients via management. At Show Up, I MAY get 1-2 assessments a month and I had to grind hard to get them (keep in mind, Show Up Fitness is a start-up personal training company who's kicking major-ass by the way!) After going through the assessment, the female client agreed to a 12-session package at $60 per session (my commission was 50%.) $600 is minuscule compared to some of the 3K+ training packages, but think of it like this, you could lease a Mercedes CLA250 Coupe for that amount! The point is, it doesn't matter what your client invests ($60 or $150 per session), their investment should be taken seriously. Make your clients a priority from session 1 to session 100. Having a strong reputation is essential for succeeding in this business, and it begins with getting your first client and helping them achieve their goals.



You can look at this rule from a few different angles: Mental Preparation, Program Preparation, or Facility Preparation. Let me start with the mental aspect.

Mental Preparation:

Unlike a desk job, when I train, I have to inspire, motivate, and educate people at all sorts of time throughout the day. I can't turn away from my clients like you can to a computer screen. I can't go rage on a Sunday knowing I can avoid my boss on Monday by being hung-over at my corner desk. I challenge myself to Show UP every day FIRED UP! I focus on being positive, smiling, and asking genuine questions – because I CARE! Think of how'd you want to be treated at 6 AM in the morning? Intelligent trainers can adapt to client personalities at 5 AM or 11PM; not the other way around.

Program Preparation:

Programming my workouts is the equivalent of becoming a better writer. I'm not going lie, this took me a solid 90-minutes to write. I know with time and hard work, I'll get better. I'd rather try something I'm not the best at than sit in my comfort zone and be mediocre or scared. As a new trainer, you need to write out your clients workouts. Early in my career, I would try to fit every exercise in the workout to try and please the client. That's normal BUT STOP NOW. I know you want to “WOW” your clients so you keep them entertained like a dog by showing them new tricks, but you want your clients to come back right?

Results do that, not circus tricks. I agree it's important to create enjoyable workouts, but you need to understand how results are attained. As fun as it might sound to a client to focus on certain areas (we know spot reduction isn't possible, right?), the results come by overloading movement patterns, showing up regularly and working hard!

” Hinge (Deadlifts / Hip Thrusts)

” Squat (Back Squat / Goblets)

” Vert/Hor. Press (Military Press / Bench Press)

” Vert/Hor. Pull (Pull-Ups, Bent Over Rows)

” Carrying stuff (Farmer Walks)

” Caloric deficit (fat loss) or surplus (GAINZ)

KISS (Keep it simple shithead) and educate your clients! You can add in accessory work aka fluff by adding in exercises that you can feel e.g. clams, curls, or even burpees (don’t kill me Chris), but explain to your clients a workout comprised of just these exercises, wouldn’t create sufficient overload aka NO GAINZ! It’s tough as trainers because we have to play the game.

We need to build relationships, but at the same time, get results and compete with all the circus acts that people “claim get results.” So, I have to play the game by getting my client’s glutes to burn via exercises like clams or donkey kicks, but in reality, it was heavy Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts and Winning the Week.

Gym Facility Preparation:

The last concept isn't rocket science, keep your facility like you keep your apartment before a significant other comes over for the first time. If your place looks and smells crummy, people probably aren't going to SHOW UP. It's the small things that can create a pleasurable experience (fella's, girls love a man with an impressively clean bathroom- trust me!) Next, after your done with an exercise, put the equipment back so the next trainer can use it. Also remember that your company functions as a unit, not a fraternity house- HAVE RESPECT FOR OTHERS!

Take Away:

As a trainer or gym owner, there are a plethora of characteristics that make up a successful trainer (read Mr. Hitchko’s book here!)- we’re trainers, not super hero's, it’s ok not to possess them all. The three P's does provide a checklist of what you should be focusing on to reach your full potential. Don't be that trainer who settles for mediocrity by staying in your comfort zone. Take pride in your job and brand, and as we say at Show Up, “90 percent of success is SHOWING UP!”


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