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15 Personal Trainer Tips for Beginners

personal trainer tips

Starting a job in any new industry can be daunting, but our personal trainer tips for beginners are specifically tailored to help give you the best possible foundations to build a lucrative career from.

We’ll explain how to stand out from the crowd, how you can secure those crucial first few clients, and provide you with key tips on being a personal trainer that clients want to stay with.

We’ll look at:

If you’re seeking to truly excel, though, the best tip for new personal trainers is to pursue additional certifications. A specialist Level 4 qualification from OriGym can make you stand out as a Personal Trainer, such as our Sports Nutrition qualification or our Level 4 diploma in yoga teacher training

Download our FREE prospectus here or below to find out more about our full range of courses, and what they can offer you!

Establishing A Business & Brand

Your first port of call when you’re new to personal training should be to start to build your business, and create the brand that’s going to set you apart from the competition.

Our next few personal trainer tips for beginners are all dedicated to taking those initial steps before you secure your first clients.

#1 - Find Your Niche

beginner personal trainer tips

At first, this might seem like quite a difficult task to accomplish, but doing so is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to personal trainer tips.

The early stages of your personal trainer career should be dedicated to setting yourself up as a sustainable business, putting in the research at an early stage so that you can hit the ground running.

Much of this research should be dedicated to finding the personal training niche that’s right for you. 

Essentially, this means narrowing down your skills and knowledge to the areas you’re truly passionate about, and creating a service that revolves centrally around that.

personal trainer tips for beginners

Some personal trainers opt for weight loss, focusing their services on helping clients to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Others will choose to train those at the peak of physical fitness, designing programs for athletes and sportspeople.

Finding this specialism is an ideal way to set yourself apart from the competition, as well as target the clientele you want to attract. Our complete guide to finding your personal trainer niche explores this in much more detail.

Of course, once you’ve identified your niche, there’s still steps you can take to ensure that you’re as prepared as you possibly can be for your career in personal training.

 

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#2 - Learn From Others

tips for beginner personal trainers

This much should be obvious. If you’re a newly qualified PT looking for personal trainer tips for beginners, then the best place to start is with those who have gained years of experience in the industry.

This is especially true of personal trainers who are operating and marketing themselves in a local area. You’ll be able to get insider tips on creating a business that’s both sustainable and prosperous.

Plus, asking existing personal trainers does two things.

Firstly, it gives you perspective on clients in the local area. You’ll be able to discover:

  • What kinds of things work for them
  • How they like to train
  • Where they like to train
  • What services other trainers are having success with
  • Where the gaps in the market are

Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to scope out your opposition. If you know what works for them, and what opportunities they are missing, you can shape your whole business plan around their weaknesses, and around gaps in the market.

Asking fellow personal trainers is therefore crucial to securing success at a later stage, which makes the following question prompts some of the most important personal trainer tips for beginners.

You could ask: 

  • How long have you worked in this area?
  • Are you freelance, self-employed, or hired by a gym?
  • What classes and services have you found to be most popular?
  • What marketing techniques have you had success with in the past?
  • What obstacles have you had to overcome in personal training?
  • Do you have a specific target audience?
  • What career path have you taken since becoming a PT?
  • What are your plans for the future? How are you planning to develop?

You can then use these answers to influence and shape how you create the personal training packages and services you plan to offer.

But to effectively establish a successful business plan, there’s a few more personal trainer tips you can follow to streamline that process.

#3 - Adopt A Business Mindset

tips for personal trainers

This may go without saying, but it’s hugely important to recognise that becoming a personal trainer is about more than just training your clients.

Sure, having an in depth knowledge of anatomy and health and fitness is going to put you ahead of most average gym goers. 

But remember - every other qualified personal trainer should also have this skillset, providing they’ve passed their Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications.

With that in mind, one of the most important personal trainer tips for beginners is to approach your new career as an entrepreneur, rather than a fitness fanatic.

It’s important to understand the difference between the two. An entrepreneur identifies opportunity, and invests time in sales tactics. A fitness fanatic approaches their personal training in a dedicated, but unstructured manner.

You should aim to combine both your passion for fitness with a keen business mindset, and an eye towards carving out a successful career path in the industry.

To get you started, here are a few of our key beginner personal trainer tips when it comes to beginning your business, and establishing a successful brand.

  • Always keep your end goal in mind - With anything you do in terms of business decisions, you should always consider how that will help you to ultimately achieve your goals, and progress in your career.
  • Seek out opportunities - This can be for continued professional growth, to provide your clients with a more comprehensive service, or to streamline the process you complete as part of your business.
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes - Without seeking out change and development, you risk stagnating and losing the clients you’ve worked so hard to gain. Innovation and new ideas can only happen if you leave your comfort zone, and try new things in terms of fitness.
  • Make the most of your time - Time is perhaps the most valuable asset you have at your disposal. You should maximise what you do with, as well as set some aside so that you can still meet your personal commitments, and spend time with family and friends.

There is no definitive key to succeeding in business, and in truth, success in itself is a bit of a grey area. What you can guarantee, though, is that personal training (like any other business) is all about identifying clear goals, and plotting how best to achieve those goals.

By following our personal training tips for beginners, you’ll always be on the lookout for ways to offer your clients more resources and utility, so they can achieve their personal SMART targets

This is usually in the way of additional tips through online platforms, adding more skills to your programmes and repertoire, and augmenting the service you provide through the use of CPD courses and specialist qualifications.

#4 - Develop Effective Structures

tips for PTs

Now that you’re starting to think like both an entrepreneur and a fitness enthusiast, it goes without saying that you need to start implanting structure into your fitness workflow.

While this may sound tedious, and even something that you could miss out entirely, creating effective business structures and models can ensure that you’re always on the right track when it comes to achieving your goals. 

In terms of offering personal trainer tips for beginners, one of the most common mistakes new personal trainers make is to not focus on structure and planning in the early stages of their career.

The truth of the matter is, structure needn’t be boring. It’s long been thought that 90% of having a good product is based on the ability to set out a clear structure, and having the vision to be creative in your planning.

And that’s the real key here - creativity. You need to be creative with how you set up your business and how you market it. You need to be innovative with:

  • How you structure payments
  • Your use of software
  • The terms and conditions of your business

Let’s examine each of those in more detail, and look at how our personal trainer tips can revolutionise the way you view your business.

Payment & Package Structures

Your payment structure shouldn’t be thought of simply in terms of the amount of profit you could make, but in how you can attract clients to your business, and what will attract those clients to choose your service over others. 

If you’re new to making PT packages, check out our video below to see how you can build exceptional payment plans for your clients from the ground up.

Of course, while one strong payment package is good, you shouldn’t just offer one. Doing so will only alienate clients who can’t afford that price tag, or that don’t have the time to commit to multiple sessions per week.

Try and develop premium packages that attract different target audiences. For instance, you could offer multiple packages that offer 1, 2 and 3 sessions per week, or that combine different services you offer into one large-scale option.

Take Impact Training’s pricing model as a good example. Offering multiple packages that are geared towards different levels of fitness is an ideal way to target clients across different demographics.

beginner tips for PTs

Ultimately, the more choice you can offer to potential clients, the more likely you are to convert those into paying customers, especially if they were unable to fit around one of your initial packages.

Software Usage

In terms of personal trainer tips for beginners, choice of software is huge - it can massively impact how easy it is to complete some of the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of being a personal trainer. 

Regardless of how you intend to conduct your business, you will be using software on a day-to-day basis, but there’s certain things you should consider before rushing into something that might not necessarily be right for you and your business.

The key is to not pay for a service because it is the most expensive, or the newest. Identify your workflow, research what you need, and buy a software package that offers exactly that.

Check out our guide to the best personal trainer software for more advice, what to choose based on your circumstances, and what you’ll need to set yourself up for the future.

 

Your Contracts and Terms of Service

tips for new personal trainers

Here, you have to be more clear cut, and explain what you expect of your clients in easy-to-understand terms. This includes things like cancellation policies, behaviour rules, and when and when not to contact you.

However, that’s not to say that you can’t offer your clients more rights, and opportunities to cancel sessions or be flexible with their bookings.

In terms of personal trainer tips for beginners, the key here is not to undermine your business. You should allow for some wiggle room for those clients you trust, but equally you need to value your time, and the income you could lose.

If you can’t accommodate clients cancelling with less than 24 hours notice, then make sure you write that clause into their contracts. However, if your business plan allows for a certain degree of flexibility, be sure to highlight that when you’re selling your product on the gym floor

#5 - Analyse Your Audience

personal training tips

Now that you’ve fully established the kind of audience you want to target, as well as gained highly valuable insights from those around you, you should look at arguably the most important aspect of your role - your future clients.

Many new personal trainers fail to try and understand their audience before they start trying to recruit clients, meaning they reach the gym floor and have no idea who they are targeting with their sales pitches.

As you might imagine, this means these PTs are often unprepared, and not properly equipped to deal with the demands of clients.

Instead, and one of the most important personal trainer tips for beginners on this list, you should conduct a full audit of the local audience before you even start to look into recruiting your clients.

You should always be aware of key information, like:

  • Demographic data, such as age and gender
  • The area where you’re working, and the clients that attend that gym
  • Whether you’re looking to work with new gym-goers or those who are more experienced
  • The environment you’re training in
  • What you can provide in terms of expertise or specialist knowledge

Having this information in your back pocket gives you a number of advantages over the competition, as well as preparing you better for the challenges that a day in the life of a personal trainer can bring. 

What’s more, it also gives you something to talk about in a personal trainer interview - a clear idea of who you want to target with your services shows a degree of confidence and forward planning.

Personal Trainer Tips for the Gym Floor

Now that we’ve fully covered our top personal trainer tips for getting started with your business and brand, it’s time to turn our attention to gaining clients.

Our next suggestions all focus on the gym floor, and how you can turn every opportunity into a way to provide additional value to your potential clients, and maximise the impact you have.

#6 - Master The Basics

tips for a beginner personal trainer

Out of the many personal trainer tips for beginners, a recurring piece of advice is to put maximum effort into your early clients, so that word of mouth news travels about your services and business.

And this advice rings true. If you’re new on the scene then you should be doing everything you can to impress potential clients around you, and to assert yourself to competitors.

However, a more specific piece of advice is to ensure that your clients achieve early wins, so that they keep coming back for more.

You don’t want to tire your clients out, and to tire yourself out by working on ten or twenty different goals. 

The key to keeping your early clients happy is to focus on a specific goal, and to help them achieve that in as little time as possible.

tips for personal training

This doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Instead, ensure you do the basics well, and that your clients know every time a milestone is reached, however small.

Remember, people are their own harshest critics, and it’s your job to motivate a client, as well as train them in a physical capacity.

Here’s a few key pointers to keep in mind as you train those first few clients:

  • Gather Evidence - use progress photos, measurements and other data to prove the effectiveness of your sessions and training regimes.
  • Make Your Programmes Goal-Focused - with any programme, you should always keep the client’s overall goals in mind, and have a full understanding of how this session will help them get there.
  • Success Reminders - remind your clients of how far they’ve progressed, and offer words of encouragement when they feel they’re struggling or haven’t achieved anything.
  • Use Linear Progression - gradually build on the workouts and sessions you’re completing with each client, using incrementally increasing challenges to keep clients interested.

#7 - Provide Free Advice

advice personal trainers

Once you’re in your chosen career path, and you’re trying to establish yourself as a personal trainer, there’s one piece of advice that will be more effective than any of our other personal trainer tips for beginners.

Offer customers and gym goers advice without any expectation.

While this may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, not charging money or hard selling can be the golden ticket to securing a long-term client.

Here, your tactic is to incrementally introduce yourself to the client, so by the end of your relationship they consider you a friend, not a personal trainer.

Try progressing through these stages before even mentioning that you’re a PT:

  1. If you spot a gym goer struggling with a routine or piece of equipment, offer to lend a hand, or provide informal advice. You shouldn’t mention that you’re a personal trainer here.
  2. Next time you see them, make sure to say “hello” and ask them about how their routine is going.
  3. Then, when you see them again, focus on a specific aspect of fitness that they’re looking to improve. Discuss their goals, and what they’re hoping to achieve. If they ask you about your own aspirations, subtly mention that you’re a personal trainer who helps others achieve their goals.
  4. Offer them a piece of advice that’s tailored to their personal goals, free of charge.
  5. Mention that you’re a personal trainer, and that you’ve got a specific offer or promotion at the moment that could interest them. This could be in the form of a free consultation, or a class that you’re teaching at the gym. They’ll have already experienced the advice you can give at this point, and so should be more inclined to attend.

By proving your expertise, you lay the groundwork to recruit these customers, turning them into long-term paying clients.

Your personal trainer marketing should also help, as your presence should be visible around your workplace.

This is, without fail, one of the best personal trainer marketing tips for beginners in terms of recruiting reliable clients who will stay with you in this early stage of your career.

 

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#8 - Finding The Right Career Path

personal trainer tips and tricks

Even if you’re a newly qualified personal trainer, you’ve probably realised that there is more than one career path to choose from.

In fact, if we’re talking about fitness careers in general, there are countless different career paths, professions, and niches in which you could specialise. 

The difficulty is not in choosing one, but finding the right one for you, and discovering the kind of clientele you want to work with.

Let’s explore some of the main options available to you when you’re looking to kickstart a successful career as a personal trainer.

  • Employed In A Gym

This generally means you’ll be paid a set wage, with the expectation that you’ll also complete many of the tasks associated with a gym instructor, like teaching classes, carrying out gym inductions, and helping out members of the gym with their queries. 

  • Freelance Personal Training 

This is where many personal trainers fall, and for good reason. It offers a balance between creating your own schedule and sourcing your clients, and having the opportunity to use the facilities at a gym or fitness centre.

  • Self Employed Personal Trainer

With this option, you’ll be working as your own boss, using your own personal space and equipment to deliver your sessions with clients you’ll have sourced yourself. This is often a natural progression for those who’ve worked in the industry for a longer period of time.

To discover more on the different career options available to PTs, check out our complete guide to personal training career options for both beginners and experienced fitness professionals.

As far as personal trainer tips for beginners are concerned, choosing the best career path for you is crucial with regard to maximising your future earning potential.

#9 - Understanding Your Clients

beginner personal training tips

One of the most important tips for new personal trainers is to always remember that your clients are individuals with their own needs, aspirations and ideas of exercises.

Think about it like this - if you have interests, a life, and hobbies outside of your work in the gym, so do your clients, and it’s vital that you take those into consideration when planning your sessions.

You also have to keep in mind that a lot of your clients are new to gym work and the health and fitness industry. The key to understanding your clients is keeping an open mind, and being flexible when you are planning their programmes.

You have to make sure that your client is seeing the benefits of your training, while also not tiring them out or intimidating them.

When you’re working with new clients, keep in mind the following to ensure that they have an enjoyable experience while training with you. Here’s a few key beginner personal training tips to help you make the most of your time with your clients.

  • Always be prepared to explain and demonstrate key components of exercise
  • Go the extra mile - offer unparalleled flexibility with your sessions, and additional help for those who are struggling
  • Remember that your client is paying for your expertise, and you can never provide them with too much information or expert guidance
  • Understand that the gym can be an intimidating environment, especially for those who are new to fitness. Learn more about the data behind this with our full “Gym-timidation” report.
  • Get to know your clients on a personal level. Talk about their interests, what they enjoy doing outside of the gym, and strike up conversations that can help you build stronger bonds with your client.
  • Be yourself. This is hugely important to remember - clients are paying not only for your expertise, but your time and your company too, so it’s vital that you put across your personality and enthusiasm.

#10 - Fully Utilise Data

new personal trainer tips

Data is integral to everything you do as a personal trainer. It should form a core part of how you plan each individual session, as well as how you structure longer term ideas and routines to ensure progress.

There is no more powerful tool, and few more effective personal trainer tips for beginners, than taking regular measurements, surveys, and fitness checks with your clients, and using that data to improve workout programmes.

Here’s a few quick tips on the data you should be measuring, as well as why you should take those specific measurements.

  • Always ensure that your first session with a client starts with measurements, as well as their starting point
  • Check in regularly with your clients, taking measurements of key data such as weight, body fat percentage, BMI, and heart rate.
  • Use progress photographs to help clients fully grasp how far they’ve come, as well as provide a visual representation of their progression.
  • Take qualitative measurements as well as quantitative. This means asking how your client is feeling generally, as well as using more number-based data to back up those feelings.

Data will also convince your client that they are getting value for money from your services.

If you can show the progression they have made, or what needs to be done in order to meet their target, then you are more likely to retain them as a client in the long-term as they will view you as a trusted authority on their fitness.

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Looking for more advice for personal trainers? Check out these three articles for further guidance.

Advice On Marketing Yourself and Your Services

#11 - Develop Your Brand and USP

tips for new PTs

If you’re looking for personal trainer tips for beginners, then it’s likely that you’re also wondering how to get people enthusiastic about your services and programmes.

While this may sound like an impossible task at first, there’s actually a few simple steps you can follow to help you make an impact in the fitness industry.

Developing a USP is all about looking at what makes you stand out, and applying that to your research, as well as how you market your services. 

We’ve already touched upon the importance of thorough market research when you’re first starting out, but it bears repeating that this is perhaps one of the most integral tasks when it comes to personal trainer tips for beginners.

Once you’ve found out where the gaps in the market are, you’ll need to tailor your programmes and services to capture what customers want to see. There’s a number of ways you can do this:

  • Keep It Simple - While it can be tempting to try and push the boundaries of what’s expected in your current niche, it’s best to try and make your initial idea as simple as possible. Offering low-cost alternatives to expensive services on the market, small group personal training, or late-night sessions can all set you apart without being overly difficult to accomplish.
  • Make Your Brand Clear - When you’re trying to come up with a name for your personal training brand, it’s important to keep it as clear, concise and focused as possible. For instance, “Walter White PT” or “Jesse Pinkman S&C Coach” provides a clear picture of what you can offer, without being overly wordy or difficult to remember.
  • Success Comes From What You Offer - You should always make sure that the programs you offer are well advertised, and they’re consistent with what you offer, your USP, and your branding. For example, if you’re offering group PT sessions, you should make sure that potential clients know that that’s what you specialise in, and how you plan to offer that service.

#12 - Dedicate Time To Marketing

advice personal trainers

Regardless of experience, all personal trainers will have to deal with the tough decision on how to effectively market themselves, and how they can maximise their time to make sure this is done properly..

In terms of tips for personal trainer tips for beginners, dedicating a good chunk of time to marketing is essential. Without marketing, you won’t be able to develop your personal training business, and your future clients won’t know where your expertise lies.

In general then, we suggest following the 75-25 rule of time distribution. This essentially states that 75% of your time should be spent on the gym floor and training your clients, and 25% of your time should go towards marketing.

While that may sound a little extreme, it’s absolutely vital to remember that marketing isn’t just about sitting at your computer, posting on social media and sending newsletters - it’s a hugely diverse part of the roles of a personal trainer

You can market yourself while training clients and helping customers on the gym floor, through some of the beginner personal trainer tips we’ve touched on, as well as putting across your personality, and what you can offer to clients.

#13 - Remarket To Your Current Clients

personal trainer advice

While it might seem that all marketing is about targeting new clients, and increasing the size of your client lists in order to maximise your revenue, it absolutely isn’t. 

Your current clients are perhaps one of your most reliable points of reference for your marketing strategies, and remarketing to them can act as a way to determine whether or not your ideas are successful. 

You’ll gain a clear understanding of what people are looking for, what you’re doing well, and what you can improve upon.

Here’s a few ideas on how to target your current clients, as well as gain an additional perspective on attracting new clients, too.

  • Start a newsletter that you can sign clients (and potential clients) up to
  • Create seasonal offers that you can use on a monthly basis which can supplement a client’s training programmes. Check out our complete guide to personal trainer package ideas for a huge selection of suggestions.
  • Offer a “Bring-A-Friend” scheme, where your existing client can bring a friend along to a session free of charge, so that they can experience what you have to offer.

In addition to earning you more clients through referrals, incentivising also keeps your existing clients interested. The more referrals they bring you, the more discounts and free sessions they receive.

Remember, it’s important to offer trusted clients something in return for their commitment to your services, and referrals are an easy way of capitalising on this.

#14 - Seek Out Opportunities

advice for personal trainers

As mentioned previously, not all marketing is about sitting at your computer, or placing posters and business cards around your local community.

You can just as easily market yourself while working on the gym floor. Now, this may be surprising, but marketing yourself while you work is incredibly effective.

In fact, there is no better method of improving your brand and increasing the size of your client lists than being on the gym floor as much as possible, interacting with potential new clients.

Next time you’re on the gym floor, think about:

  • Offering gym classes and taster sessions to better demonstrate your personal trainer skills
  • Working with charities in the local community to provide fitness-related activities and events, like fun runs and fundraisers
  • Providing free advice and demonstrations to help familiarise yourself with potential new clients
  • Ensuring that other gym goers can see you training your current clients, and can therefore see how you’re helping them

 

Become a Level 4 Nutrionist

Expand Your PT Business & Become a Level 4 Nutrition Specialist

#15 - Maximise Your Visibility

advice for new PTs

While defining your brand and USP is absolutely essential, dedicating a set amount of time in your timetable for personal development is going to take you far, you should always be striving to improve.

When it comes to personal trainer tips for beginners that actually make a difference to your weekly earnings, you are going to have to make sure that you are visible around your workplace.

Or rather, you need to be more visible than your competitors, and ensure you stand out as the right option for those looking for a personal trainer.

There are a couple of guaranteed ways to achieve this and, despite what you might read elsewhere, you should not undervalue the power of posters and printed materials with regard to ensuring future success.

Here’s a few key pointers when it comes to printed promotional materials, and how to maximise your sales through posters and personal trainer business cards:

  • Always ensure that your posters have the correct details, including ways to contact you, the services you offer, and any promotions you’re running
  • Make sure you keep a few business cards in your pocket, and at the reception desk of your gym
  • Use local community spaces that are visited regularly, like cafés and community centres
  • If you’re one of very few personal trainers at your gym, ask the reception staff to mention you if a customer is looking for a trainer
  • Focus your attention on just a few channels, rather than trying to gain new clients in many different areas. Social media and newsletters are ideal ways to start, and require little effort to get going.

Remember, it’s not all about being visible. You also have to offer something to entice clients, so ensure that your service matches the efforts you put into your marketing.

Seasonal discounts, and bring-a-friend offers are fantastic for increasing the range of your marketing, and for building up healthy client lists in the early stage of your career.

Before You Go!

Our top personal trainer tips for beginners are all designed to give you the best possible foundations for a successful, lucrative career in the fitness industry. 

Each suggestion is designed to provide you with actionable advice, and ways to revolutionise your approach to personal training. But the most important advice is to enhance your knowledge, and pass that expertise on to your clients.

With a specialist Level 4 qualification, you can build on your personal training certification, and provide your clients with a much more comprehensive experience.

Download our FREE prospectus here, or enter your details below to find out more about what we offer!

Written by George Aird

Fitness Professional & Marketer

Join George on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

George Aird is a content writer and marketer with specialist knowledge of health and fitness, online marketing, and start-up businesses. In his spare time, he is a keen climber, and a (reluctant) runner. 

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