Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Things Every Trainer Should Know & Do...Part 1

Real simple…if you want to be respected by your peers and gain notoriety amongst colleagues, fellow staff, or your bosses, then you should be proficient at these 6 tasks. Although it is not the end all, be all list of tasks that define you as a person, they do set a benchmark for the level of professionalism needed to solidify a status as a professional fitness trainer.

How was this list compiled? Easy…through the years I have had the opportunity to interview over 50 trainers at the 3 different facilities I have managed. Some I have hired, most I have never called or seen again. Some of these traits were easily identifiable in interviewees and some needed some fostering and instruction. Nonetheless, those trainers went on to experience some success in the field. Some of the tasks are not going to be completed before you enter the field or within your first year. Some of the tasks reflect your character and how it correlates to the field of personal training (i.e. dealing with client issues), while others reflect your understanding and preservation of academia and concepts learned through the process. However, you should concentrate on working towards proficient completion of each one within 2 years in the field. Each task will ensure you become capable and skillful as a fitness professional to your peers, your clients, and most importantly…yourself.

All Good Trainers Should…

…be multi-tasked. Trainers have an enjoyable job that lets their passion lead them, but there is always the need to be organized and professional. The ability to schedule appointments, prepare ahead of time, and return phone calls—all at the same time—is the grain of this profession. The more aptitude you demonstrate, the more likely you are to maintain a consistent schedule and reap the rewards of word of mouth business and successful planning.

…have an assertive personality. I usually tell new trainers that if they are not a “people person”, then they are in the wrong field. Half of this profession is filled with educated trainers that can design an entire off-season program for a dozen lacrosse players—but have the personality of bird-cage paper. Education is an important element to have in this field, but without the proper vehicle (personality) to convey that knowledge, it makes it virtually handicap to the receiver. The ability to converse with your clients about off-topic issues and maintain their focus on the exercise at hand is critical and a very important “middle-ground” to have when sustaining a profitable client load.

…perform skin-fold (caliper) measurements. I know the use of the bio-impendence analyzer (Omron) is popular and easy to use; however, it is still not as accurate as a properly performed skin-fold test. This simple fact is enough reason for all trainers to take the responsibility to become proficient at using the Lange or Skyndex caliper. Since the introduction of the Omron to the market and mainstream fitness, most new trainers fore-go the task of performing caliper testing as an alternative to body fat measuring. This is an error. Learning and becoming efficient at using calipers can project an image of professionalism and skill. Most detractors will argue that clients feel intimidated and uncomfortable with even the sight of a Lange caliper; however, with the proper instruction and explanation, a trainer can perform the body fat assessment with a caliper—even on the opposite gender. Most 3, 4, and 7 site tests include simply lifting or adjusting clothing—but never fully removing. I understand that you may still have clients that feel uncomfortable with this, but with proper explanation and professionalism, a client should feel comfortable enough to “give” themselves to you during this 1 minute test.

Stay tuned for Part 2 from this interesting article I wrote last year...


  1. Looking forward to reading the rest of this list, John.

  2. Thanks Kaiser! Look for it later in the week.


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