“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.”

-Jay Danzie

The personal training industry has changed a bit in the last 20 years.

Once upon that long ago time, personal trainers were for celebrities and for the very wealthy. Having a personal trainer was an uber luxury, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who employed one.

Slowly, that changed. As folks began to really understand the benefits of fitness and especially strength training, the interest in working out increased. A new group of people were willing to pay someone to show them around the gym.

And during this time the “fitness professional” was born. Among the group of trainers that simply showed the masses the new machines at the gym, filling out a pre printed workout card, were a few that knew a little more about exercise and how to program it for a variety of clientele.

These trainers stood out for their knowledge. They knew more than the average person (and trainer) and they were compensated to share this knowledge with people who didn’t.

And fitness continued to grow in popularity.

At this point, maybe 10 years ago, was the beginning of the shift in what was expected from a professional trainer.

The idea of hiring a personal trainer was more of a mainstream idea with more and more people budgeting for and putting value in professional fitness instruction.

The expectations of what a fitness professional delivered also changed. With more people involved in fitness, there were also more folks providing fitness service. More professionals equals more competition for those in the industry.

Now, it took more than book knowledge, more than knowing how to “work out” with ones own goals in mind to be a successful trainer.

This is when the idea of a fitness service “EXPERIENCE” became more important and it was the barometer of success and failure in the personal training world.

As a trainer and a training manager, I saw this happening. What once was passable as good service became a good way to lose a client.

In the last 10 years, what started as a slow movement has become an absolute expectation as far as fitness service goes. Professionals are expected to deliver a complete experience, not to mention results and knowledge that are always assumed as part of the client contract.

Sarah and I have been fitness co-conspirators for over 12 years.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL fitness professionals deliver a complete experience.

You want to be successful in this industry?

You must have the ability to motivate , and an understanding of human behavior and how to give advice based on that.

You have to have a keen understanding of where your client is coming from, with empathy for their struggle.

You have to show up on time and be there for their appointment EVERY time. No excuses, you must be reliable.

You have to listen and actually care about what your client is telling you. When a trainer uses a client comment as a transition into a personal story about his/her own life, you’ve got a problem.

You must continue to learn and understand how that knowledge can actually benefit your client. Being a well informed professional tells your client you are invested in their progress and goals.

Laser focused attention, extra session time when needed, special study just for your client, and motivational texts. They are all part of, but not an exhaustive list of, what should be included in a wonderful fitness experience.

I’m am not one to promote myself. I’m actually very self conscious about that idea. But I’m going to say this. I do know how to deliver a pretty descent client experience. Over half my clientele have been training with me for 10+ years, and if I took every client that was directly referred to me, I’d be training over 70 hours a week.

I’m not bragging. I’m not special. I just understand how to deliver a good client experience.

Leaving you with some food for thought…

You can’t hide behind certifications and education. This WILL NOT matter if you cannot deliver a valuable experience to your client that includes all the aforementioned points.

So, you decide. You’re a fitness professional. Do you want to be a leaky bucket, losing clients faster than you can get them? Or do you want to be a provider of exceptional service, a master of the fitness experience?

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS