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Last updated on December 9th, 2023.

Being a personal trainer or master trainer isn’t just a job for a person who has big muscles or is a highly trained athlete. The positions are often staffed by people who have felled their fitness dragons and are looking to share their success with the world. So what are eleven key things that personal trainers need to know?

Training isn’t just a way for you to spend more time in the gym. It can be challenging, and knowing about exercise is only a tiny part of the fitness pie. So read on and learn the eleven key things that personal trainers need to know.

Key Things Personal Trainers Need to Know

As a trainer, you aren’t just tasked with training clients and going about your day. The job of a trainer is quite different from what some people imagine, and knowing which exercises to use with a specific client can make or break your career. By keeping a few guidelines handy, you can make a great life as a personal trainer.

1. Exercise Form is the Basis for Any Movement Program

The most important thing a trainer should know is how to perform the exercises correctly. There are variations and different movement exercises that could harm your client. As a trainer, you should know how each exercise is done, and any cues to maintain form should be communicated during exercise performance.

That doesn’t mean you place your clients in bad positions and work them out as much as you should do your homework. If your client can’t work out, you aren’t paid.

The main reasons to learn the correct exercise form as a trainer are:

  • Safety – The most crucial part of any training session is safety. If you know how the exercises are to be performed, you know when your client could be struggling with weight or be in a situation where they hurt themselves. Being safe keeps your clients headed towards their goals and keeps your business afloat.
  • Progress – Knowing the correct exercise form is essential for the client to progress. The best training programs are built in pieces that build off the previous session. Progressing exercises as the trainee improve in fitness is what will keep them coming back to your sessions.
  • Teaching – One of the great things about being a personal trainer is teaching your clients how to be healthy. By teaching them how to perform exercises correctly, you give them inside information that will pique their interest in exercise and make fitness a habit and not just a fad.

Exercise form is the most important gym knowledge you can drop on your clients. Once they see you are teaching them about fitness and not just collecting their money, you create a bond that keeps clients coming back for years.

2. Selling Yourself is a Huge Part of Personal Training

If you are an exercise introvert, personal training might not be for you. Knowing how to approach people and offer your services is one of the most critical parts of being a trainer. If you focus on helping and mingling with gym members, your client list will grow.

The ways that selling is important as a personal trainer are:

  • Business – If you are starting your business, selling will be the most important thing on your to-do list. Your business thrives off of being friendly and effective as a trainer. Do your business with the same enthusiasm and effort you put into your training sessions.
  • Image – A personal trainer’s image is based on how they look and sell. Selling yourself creates an image of confidence and strength critical to making a groove in the personal training market.

Don’t be afraid if you are a good trainer who is terrible at selling. You can learn to sell just like you learned to get your personal training certification. It could take time, but you will see the dollars rolling in once you learn to meld your training knowledge and sales pitch.

3. It is Best to Train Your Clients and not Torture Them.

Your clients are what keep your business afloat. If you treat them like they are expendable, they will not come back to you for another session. You must learn to ride the fine line between too much work and getting enough rest. If you can’t learn this skill, your clients will suffer from injuries.

4. Motivation is a Trainer’s Secondary Job

Your clients come to you for your expertise and because they think working with a trainer will motivate them. A trainer must be a great motivator. If you are not good at motivation, get a few books and learn how to drive your clients. The best way is to give them their own inspiration and not pull from your story.

5. A Personal Training Certification that is Accredited is Required

You can go out and get any type of certification you want. Even a few options will have you certified within a few weeks of purchase. However, suppose you want a quality certification that will allow you to work in some of the most popular gyms in the country. In that case, you need a personal training certification that is accredited.

A few reasons that accreditation is essential as a trainer are:

  • Seal of Approval – An accredited certification means you have a trainers ‘seal of approval’ that shows you have passed rigorous training and invested lots of time and money into your craft. Having a seal of approval means clients trust your training methods and that they are backed by science.
  • Pay to Play – If you want to make the big bucks, you have to throw down some money. If you see that certification is cheap, it probably isn’t worth your time. Suitable certifications will cost money to become certified and could even require an in-person practical.
  • Practical – The best certifications will have a practical involved. This is a hands-on, on-the-job training exercise that gives trainers a test of their skills. A practical is challenging, but those who make it through are better trainers.

Being accredited gives you access to work in flagship gyms like Golds and Planet Fitness. The National Council on Strength and Fitness guides you in choosing the best certification for you and provides it to you. While these are the jobs of your dreams, they could be great launch pads for a career that lasts a lifetime. So spend time and money getting accredited, and you won’t regret it.

6. Nutrition is Another Essential Skill for Trainers

Nutrition is just as important as knowing how to train. If you have no idea how to coach your clients to clean up your diet, there are ways around it but being a trainer who can handle nutrition makes you more valuable. It also gives you another revenue stream that can be explored.

7. Doing Your Homework About Clients Protects them from Injury.

You should know about your client’s health and exercise history. Take the time to interview them or give them a questionnaire before sessions to gauge where they are and where they want to go. Ensure that your workout programs do not inflict injuries on your clients by studying their histories and avoiding anything that could harm them.

8. Schedule Hours to Fit Your Client’s Needs, Not Your Own

Keeping crazy hours is a big part of being a trainer. You could work towards setting your schedule, but there will be times you are forced to take clients at an obscure time. Keep in mind that if you are in the building portion of your career that working 12 or 16-hour days are standard.

The most popular times you could be forced to take clients are:

  • 4 AM – One of the most popular times for trainers is four in the morning. People like to get up early and get their workout in before the rest of the world turns over. Clients see this as a great way to start the day, and trainers see it as an opportunity to make money and help people.
  • Lunch Break – Those motivated during the day could choose a lunch break session. These appointments can be shorter sessions, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp. Instead, make every second count using Tabata’s or other HIIT principles to make the most of short sessions.
  • Peak Time – Gym peak times vary between 4:30 PM and 9:00 PM. These are the most important sessions for young trainers as they book clients on the gym floor or with cold calling. These peak hours are usually the first ones that trainers book and give them high-visibility on the gym floor.

At first, your schedule could be hard to pin down. But, keep plugging away, and you could have the dream hours you deserve.  When trainers prove they are dependable and can handle a whole load of clients, more people decide to give them a try. Once they begin taking new clients, they can set a schedule or continue to work odd hours.

9. Personal Training is About the Client, not the Trainer.

One of the most valuable things a trainer can learn is about the clients and not themselves. So, people often think that working in the gym will give them more time to exercise, but they are wrong. As a trainer, your time is devoted to the client and not to the personal goals of the trainer. So use your free time for exercise and maintain the freedom you had before you were a trainer.

Once you become a trainer, your time will be absorbed by clients or potential clients asking questions. Curious gym-goers will approach a trainer and ask questions about their routines or articles from magazines. These interactions give the trainer time to build a bond that could turn into a working relationship.

10. Being Dependable is a Valuable Trait for Trainers

While some might like it monotonous, keeping a schedule will reinforce dependability. A dependable trainer, who never misses, is a sought-after trait from clients. Being reliable is about staying on top of your life at all times. If children’s games need to be attended, an alternate time slot must be arranged.

A few ways to make yourself more dependable are:

  • Set Alarms – Oversleeping is one of the most used excuses for missing an appointment. By setting the alarm for different hours, you force yourself to acknowledge that you need to start your commute or make your way back out to the gym floor for your appointment.
  • Never Leave – The easiest way to ensure you are always on-site for the clients is never to leave. Pack everything you need for a day at the gym when you head out in the morning, and you can stay on the floor all day. This is standard for trainers cutting their teeth, but veteran trainers understand the value of consistency.

Dependability is something that you will not hear other trainers talk about. Part of the process of getting into shape is being able to fit in your workouts no matter what. This forges a drive in trainers that you don’t find in other professions.

11. Handling Money is Critical for a Trainer’s Success

Knowing what to do with all your hard-earned money is another thing that trainers need to know. There are pieces of software that will help you keep up with your appointment pay, but if there are significant questions, you should contact an accountant. Don’t ignore any parts of a trainer’s job as one lacking area will harm the others.


There are many things you need to know about being a personal trainer. For example, you should know how to coach exercises and correct form when clients aren’t performing correctly. You should also be able to give them advice about how to feed themselves and be a dependable source of motivation and exercise.

One of the most critical parts of being a trainer is learning to be dependable. This isn’t your standard Monday to Friday dependable we are talking about. Rain or snow, no matter the weather, the trainer needs to be at the gym. Setting this standard for your clients will make you lucrative in the coming years. So stay vigilant to never miss appointments.

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