Does a personal trainer need to be in great shape in order to be a trustworthy coach or authority within the fitness industry?
The answer to that question is debatable.
In large part NO, your personal trainer does not need to be in incredible shape. It may prove intimidating for certain clients and even deter them from starting out.
Being in shape doesn’t signify creditability, nor does it mean your personal trainer knows what they are talking about. If your personal trainer has great genetics or takes performance enhancing drugs any old nutrition or training regime will work.
On the other hand…
A personal trainer who is in shape can gain clients’ trust easier than the personal trainer who isn’t in shape. Being in great shape demonstrates ‘this personal trainer practices what they preach.’
This is important in today’s day and age. As personal training clients are becoming increasingly harder to obtain and retain as the number of personal trainers across the world is growing at a rapid rate.
Shape aside, your personal trainer’s job is to transform your body in the healthiest most efficient way possible whilst educating you to sustain and improve upon your end result even further.
There are many other important factors that make a great personal trainer.
Having mentored my fair share of personal trainers over the years, the successful ones have a number of key coaching skills in common.
Here are three super important ones.
#1 - They make the complicated simple
One thing that really grinds my gears are trainers who expect clients to understand very complex scientific topics and terms that have no practical implications or use to the average Joe.
It must also be noted that many clients don’t want to look stupid or annoying by asking questions. As a result, they run the risk of not understanding key principles that may govern the success of their muscle building and/or fat loss efforts.
You could argue it’s the client’s fault for not asking but realistically the trainer needs to present his knowledge in the clearest and simplest form possible.
As the saying goes K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Stupid.
Topics must be broken into simple analogies for the average person.
#2 A good trainer is always assessing.
A good personal trainer is an impatient one.
They should always be probing you with questions to test your adherence.
They’ll also measure key variables like bodyweight, strength and body circumferences.
- When was the last time you did a strength test?
- When was the last time you had your waist measured?
- How long did your personal trainer leave it between measuring your bodyweight?
- When was the last time your trainer tweaked your diet and training program?
As I like to say – “If you aren’t assessing you’re just guessing!”
Real progress involves a measured approach.
#3 They are silently empathetic.
A great personal trainer is silently empathetic with your problems. Whether it is poor health/fitness, strength, mobility, injury, dietary adherence or problems in your personal life.
They understand your circumstance and accept you need their help.
They also know when to back off and give a helping hand.
Knowledge and experience breeds wisdom.
A personal trainer needs to be a blend of BOOK SMART and have had time tested experience being where you WANT TO BE as a client.
The best coaches teach from a place they've been authentically. In fact, many are failed athletes and upon reflection, recognise and share their voids with their clients.
On the other hand, personal trainers should realise that their client want a role model as part of the buy in process. They also want a trainer that understands the emotional and physical ins and outs of where they want to be.
Personal trainers, if you’re reading this - walk, talk and breathe everything you coach!
Renowned competitive body builder and Sports Nutritionist Phil Graham (BSc, CSSN) has established himself as one of UK’s leading fitness educators and coaches.