Network Blog

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The 10(ish) Commandments for Professional Personal Trainers

Over the years the Network crew and I have seen a huge explosion in the personal training segment of our industry. Personal trainers are now a mainstay in small and large health clubs. The personal training courses have become more professional, and the quality of trainers has never been higher.

In analysing the professional behaviour of the most successful personal trainers out there I have come up with what I believe to be some really clear guidelines for professionalism. This list doesn’t cover topics on how to be better at programming or training, it simply reflects what I believe the behaviour of a professional trainer should be.

1. Thou shalt not talk or text on your mobile phone while training clients. Simple but often overlooked! While you’re training your client your time is theirs – don’t waste it by speaking to others. Your phone should be off or on silent mode and tucked away where nobody can hear it vibrate.

2. Thou shalt try your very best to not talk to other people while you’re training your client. Just like point 1, your time is your client’s time – while they are paying for it you need to dedicate 100% of your attention to them.

3. Thou shalt have current professional industry membership/registration and professional indemnity insurance. Being associated with an industry body and having insurance shows you care about your career and you maintain a level of professionalism. It also helps you keep up-to-date with current industry trends and best practices.

4. Thou shalt avoid exchanging cash on the gym floor, when possible. Give your client your bank details, have them direct deposit or exchange cash in envelopes discreetly off the gym floor.

5. Thou shalt always plan your sessions. Don’t deliver them ‘off the cuff’; clients and potential clients can tell when you’re improvising.

6. Thou shalt be professional. As a PT you need to look and dress the part. You need to walk the talk and when you’re in the gym (and the near vicinity) you need to embody health and fitness. Dress professionally, make sure you smell and look good. People don’t want to pay $80 to train with someone who is dishevelled and looks like they just dragged themselves out of bed.

7. Thou shalt have business cards. Business cards are probably one of the best ways to get your name out to potential clients. In the case of point number 2 above, if a potential new client approaches you while you are training someone else, simply having a business card in your pocket is an easy way to give out your details without wasting your client’s time.

8. Thous shalt not give advice unless qualified to do so. If you’re a PT, stick to training and lifestyle advice. Leave nutrition to the nutritionists and rehab to the physios.

9. Thou shalt always under-promise and over-deliver! This is probably one of the best practices of customer service you can have – nobody will ever complain if you over deliver.

10. Thou shalt love what you do! I can guarantee you will never be successful in this business if you are not passionate about helping others achieve their goals.

What about you, do you have any other ‘commandments’ you’d like to add to the above? Please use the comments feature on this blog to contribute.

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Posted by: D | 07-Sep-2010 02:40 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

First off I can tell you as a personal training gym owner one fo the biggest problems I have with personal trainers in my facility is checking their cell phones during a personal training session. 5 years ago it wasn't as bad, but now with these smart phones personal trainers are connected to Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social sites making their phones go off every three seconds during a session. At our gym we have actually had to make trainers leave their phones in the office during sessions because it became such a problem. Check us out at

Posted by: Ariel Gonzalez - Motivate You Fitness & Personal Training - | 17-Sep-2010 08:04 PM | 5 out of 5 stars

Great start...though you could go on forever.....especially on "professionalism".

When I first started my business, I called and emailed all the competition to see what the competion had to offer. Very few called or emailed back, and only 1 was "professional" in her conversational skills.

THings have improved a lot in the industry since then, but there is still a perception out there that PT's are "air-heads"

Posted by: Michelle Rautio | 01-Jan-2011 11:11 PM |

As aPersonal Trainer I consider the text before and after training definitely very important to making your client feel valued. I use it as a teminder and then for positive feedback.