How to be a successful personal trainer

The nature of being a personal trainer can be a blessing and a curse. Your success is depended almost entirely on you. Outside influences rarely contribute to your success, so it’s up to you to take the steps necessary to bring yourself and your brand to the next level.

Being good at your job is only part of it; an important part, but still just one determining factor for your success among many. You need to develop your client base, meet your clients’ needs effectively as well as engagingly and continue to grow for the future. Let’s take a look at these three areas and some tips on improving in them so we can learn how to be a successful personal trainer.

Building your client base

You could be the best trainer there is, but if no one knows about it, you aren’t going to be successful. The clients aren’t all going to come to you; you’re going to have to go out and get them. This is not as easy as it may sound, however, as there is a lot of competition out there.


Like a lot of businesses out there, personal training is all about who you know. The more people you know and who know you, the more potential clients you have. Growing your network will not only net you more clients, but word of mouth will expand your presence and spread your name far and wide.

Attend fitness and wellness events whenever you can, and bring fliers and business cards wherever you go. You never know when you can score another interested potential client. Getting out there and meeting local business can also be helpful, as you can swap business cards and do some cross promotion. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to get to know people let them get to know you.

Showing off your handiwork

Don’t get so caught up in networking that you neglect your own body. You wouldn’t let a mechanic with a busted down car work on your ride, would you? Your physique is likely the first thing people will see when they meet you, and it will be an indicator of your training abilities. Be your own masterpiece and goal your clients can work toward. If you have a shirt with a logo, all the better but stick to pools and leave the T-shirts for the clients.

Stay in contact

Keeping in touch lets your network know that you are thinking of them and you care. Get a mailing list, website, dedicated social media account or all three together and shoot off updates and insight for your clientele. Keep contact info of people who went for a consultation but didn’t sign up. Updates, special offers or new services will entice them to return, and you keeping in contact ensure that you are fresh in their mind.

Engaging your clients and more effectively meeting their needs

Simply knowing what to do and telling your client when to do it is not how to be a successful personal trainer. You know that, but a reminder never hurts. Getting clients is only half the battle; you have to go the extra mile to keep them. Engaging your clients will help build a personal relationship and aid with retention and make your business more sustainable. There are a lot of little things that all together make for a more enjoyable and productive experience for your clientele.

Forge relationships

You don’t have to be your client’s best friend, but being a human to them will go a long way towards making them feel comfortable around you and get more from their workouts. Build rapport by asking them briefly about their lives and how things are going outside of the gym.

Make some time to get to know them while being careful to meet their workout goals. Maybe you have some insight on how their work in the gym helps them out there.

Your goal is to build trust and understanding. A smartphone app can suggest workouts and count reps; you’re there to add the human element. Not only will trust help you and your client build understanding, but you are also much more likely to get referrals and word of mouth advertising from a loyal client.

Surprise your client with themselves

Setting realistic goals for your client is important, but it is vital that you don’t overestimate their potential. Your promises for their fitness goals should be practical, so as to not anger them when they fail. In fact, you can keep your client happy by underselling your expectations.

Think of it as a quote. If a guy says he can fix your roof for $1000 but ends up doing it for $800, you’re going to be one happy customer. The same can apply to you. Set realistic or slightly below expected goals, then work hard to surpass them. The good feelings your clients get when they blow past their goals will be associated with you, and they will stay by your side for longer.

Stay with them after the workout is done

Your clients’ fitness is part of their lives, and you should be too. Try to stay in their lives long after they have left the gym. This doesn’t mean staying in contact, just give them things to do or ways to stay engaged throughout the week. Think of it as homework.

Give your clients things to work on like posture or mini exercises they can do at work while waiting for the elevator. You can also assign exercise journals and food diaries to keep them engaged with their fitness. Not only will your clients have better outcomes, but they will also come to see you as an indispensable part of their lives.

Looking ahead

Never rest on your laurels. Once you learn how to be a successful personal trainer, you have to maintain it. After gaining the client base you want, always keep changing with the times to continue to grow and develop. You know better than most the dangers of stagnating.

Always be learning

Education is an investment and one you should never stop making. Keeping abreast of fitness trends and fads is essential because you never know when you might want to incorporate new things into your programs. At the very least, you should be able to answer questions your clients may have about the latest ideas; either to help incorporate them or debunk them as useless fads.


A jack of all trades is not the most desirable thing is the world of personal training. The internet has plenty of general fitness advice on it available for free. As you develop in your career, seek out areas of fitness that interest you or you are passionate about and learn as much as you can. “Body Building Expert,” “HIT Instructor,” or “Women’s Fitness Expert” look a lot better than just personal trainer. Again, don’t over dilute yourself, a few areas of expertise are fine.

Also, don’t let this limit you. Always work in the confines of your client’s abilities. Just because you are a kettle bell expert, it doesn’t mean you can’t help with clients who aren’t interested. You can do the general fitness stuff, but you can also do more.

Growing for the future

As a personal trainer, you’re an achiever. You didn’t stop when you shed a few pounds, you kept going and made your body into its best possible state. Do the same for your career and attack all the angles. You found success in fitness, now bring it to your clients and your future.