What skills and qualities do you need to be a personal trainer?

June 16, 2023

Personal trainers are in high demand in many parts of the UK, as people of all levels of fitness look for support in improving their performance or in losing some weight. At first glance, it’s easy to think that learning how to become a personal trainer is relatively simple, and just needs some decent know-how on fitness and exercise. But there’s a lot more to it than you might think.

Running a personal training operation is much like running any small business, and needs a certain level of aptitude in many different areas, from promoting your enterprise to how you deal with customers. In this guide, we’ll explore eight of the most important skills you need to be a personal trainer, including:

• Fitness knowledge

• Marketing skills

• Communication

• Positive attitude

• Willingness to improve

• Reliability

• Flexibility

• Patience

Fitness knowledge

Firstly, let’s cover off the obvious: you’ll need to have strong, up-to-date knowledge of training routines, general health and fitness trends, and how different exercises and techniques can affect the human body. If you don’t have any formal qualifications in this area, it’s essential to get some so that you can run a professional operation and give your customers confidence that they’re in good hands.

Marketing skills

Getting your name out there and finding new clients is a major challenge, especially when you’re starting out from scratch. But it’s crucial that you learn how to market your enterprise well (if you haven’t done so already): that means engaging and interesting posts on social media, a clear and well-written website, and creating eye-catching advertising within your local community. The personal training market can be saturated and competitive in some places, making it especially important to stand out from the crowd.

Communication

This is one of the most important skills on this list, not only because it’s how you can help your clients get the most out of their sessions, but also because it’s a very flexible skill. No two clients will be the same, and while some will like to be strongly encouraged and pushed to their limits, others will respond much better to a softer approach. Understanding different clients’ feelings and how best to connect with each one of them individually is absolutely key.

Positive attitude

The last thing anyone who is struggling will want is to feel downbeat about their performance. Criticism that isn’t constructive will not go down very well – especially given that your clients will be paying you for the privilege! Try to put a positive spin on everything as much as you can, especially at the end of a session: this will maximise the chances of a client wanting to persevere and continue to use your services in the future.

Willingness to improve

Just as your clients come to you so that they can improve themselves, so you should make the same effort to lead by example and improve yourself. As well as maintaining a good level of fitness, you should also take a continuous approach to learning about new techniques and training styles, and pick up more qualifications as and when you can. The personal training sector can change very rapidly in terms of customer demand and new trends, so it’s vital to stay on top of things.

Willingness to improve

Just as your clients come to you so that they can improve themselves, so you should make the same effort to lead by example and improve yourself. As well as maintaining a good level of fitness, you should also take a continuous approach to learning about new techniques and training styles, and pick up more qualifications as and when you can. The personal training sector can change very rapidly in terms of customer demand and new trends, so it’s vital to stay on top of things.

Reliability

Your clients will be paying you good money for a session at a designated time, and won’t be happy if you continually turn up late or without all the equipment that’s needed for the session. If they can’t trust you to deliver a reliable service that helps them meet their goals, then they can easily find another PT who will. Make sure you turn up on time, every time, and always give every session 100% commitment.

Flexibility

If you want a nine-to-five job, then being a personal trainer is most definitely not the job for you. Most clients will want their sessions to fit around their work and home lives, which means weekday evenings and weekends will be most in demand. This applies whether you’re self-employed, or are working as a PT in a gym. So you’ll need to be prepared to work unsociable hours, and to adjust to short-notice demands as and when required.

Patience

It can be easy to forget that the people that you’re training aren’t as proficient or knowledgeable about fitness as you are. Similarly, they may not have the drive or discipline to stay fit and eat healthily outside their sessions, meaning they might not make the progress either they or you would like. That’s why it’s vital to be patient with your clients and encourage them along, without rushing them or making them feel like they’re under pressure.

Get personal trainer insurance with Protectivity

Very few personal trainers start out with every single one of the above skills covered: it’s a learning process to work out where you’re strong, and identify the other areas where you need to improve. And because nobody is perfect, it’s easy for mistakes to be made along the way – which can cause a problem if there are financial consequences as a result.

That’s why every personal trainer, whether they operate outdoors or in a gym, should always have comprehensive insurance cover in place. That way, if someone gets injured while taking part in one of your sessions, or any of your equipment gets lost, damaged or stolen, you won’t end up out of pocket.

Protectivity is one of the UK’s leading providers of personal trainer insurance, and our policies include public liability cover, professional indemnity, and up to £250 of free cover for your equipment. Take a few minutes to explore our personal trainer insurance policies and gym liability insurance and discover how they can give you all-important peace of mind as you grow your business.