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What Makes A Good Personal Trainer? 12 Top Traits

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Want to know ‘what makes a good personal trainer?’ You’re in the right place.

Obviously you don’t want to be just any personal trainer, if you’ve landed on this blog post then chances are that you want to know how to be a good personal trainer.

And rightly so! There are a lot of opportunities in the world of health and fitness, but you’re not the only person trying to figure out how to be successful in this industry.

Fortunately, the very fact that you’re reading this post shows that you’re committed to being the best.

Below, you’ll find a list of the characteristics of a good personal trainer and why they’re important! 

But first, kick-start your career as a personal trainer by getting qualified with one of our accredited personal training qualifications or download our free course brochure here.

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12 Traits & Characteristics of A Good Personal Trainer 

man scratching his head graphic

What makes a good personal trainer? Allow us to explain!

The first thing that we want to get out there is that there is no set ‘personal trainer personality’. 

Below are some characteristics and traits that can make a good PT, but your dreams of a career in the fitness industry are by no means doomed if you don’t tick all of these boxes.

The ideal personal trainer personality type is by no means set in stone. But, there are a couple traits that you’ll either need to have or that you should work on if you want to be successful as a PT. 

Here they are!

1. Patient

graphic of sand timer

Being patient is a huge part of being a personal trainer. You’ll have clients who stop and start with their training, some who struggle with motivation, and others who get impatient when they don’t see results as quickly as they would like.

You’ll train people of all ages and abilities, each with different personalities, exercise goals, and motivations. What works for one person won’t always work for somebody else, sometimes for no other reason than they simply don’t enjoy it.

In some cases you’ll have clients who just don’t listen to you, they won’t stick to their training plan outside of your sessions or they'll binge on takeaways all weekend, and then wonder why they aren’t making any progress. 

For all and any of these reasons, it can take time to find a way of training that works for individual clients – which is why having patience is so important if you want to be a good PT.

The biggest key to seeing results from exercise is finding something that you can do consistently

Taking the time to create a tailored programme that your client will stick to can require a lot of patience, but it is really important. 

2. Communication 

personal trainer speaking through a megaphone

Despite what a lot of people think, being extroverted isn’t the only personal trainer personality type. 

The idea that you have to be overly outgoing to be a PT is nothing more than a stereotype. There are plenty of different kinds of personalities in the industry, so even if you’re more of an introvert you can still do well in this role.

Nevertheless, good communication skills are still important. 

As a PT, it’s important that you can communicate well in face to face situations, but also over the phone, via email, and by text.

Don’t get confused, even if you’re more of an introvert, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a good communicator – these two characteristics are not mutually exclusive. 

So why do PTs need good communication skills? These skills are essential for interactions between yourself and your clients, and yourself and your prospective clients.

Some examples of tasks that require good communication skills include:

  • Instructing clients how to do exercises
  • Understanding your client’s goals
  • Carrying out gym inductions 
  • Following up with leads over the phone
  • Selling to clients

More generally, good communication skills are an important part of being able to create good relationships. Dogan (2017) explained why this is important for personal trainers:

“Trainers have to establish good relationships with their trainees as they depend on long-term, loyal clients to guarantee their livelihood.”

If your communication skills aren’t your strong point, then check out these 9 tips for improving your communication skills from Entrepreneur.com. 

3. Flexible 

image of plan b

One of the most important characteristics of a good personal trainer is the ability to be flexible. 

Flexibility, problem solving skills, and being able to think on your feet are all pretty much essential if you want to be successful in this job. 

That’s because things can change quickly, whether it’s something simple like having to find an alternative exercise for your client because a machine is busy, or something that shakes up your day a bit more like a client cancelling their session at the last minute. 

You’ll inevitably end up in a situation where a client cancels last minute, which will leave you up on free time and down on income. But you can’t just sit there and accept that an hour of your working day will be a total waste, you need to be thinking ‘what can I do instead?’. 

Spending that hour waiting around for your next client is not the way to become a successful personal trainer, you’re not going to make a good wage sitting in the staff room. 

Instead, you need to learn to think on your feet, how can you be flexible with your schedule? That programme you were going to create later in the week? Do it now! Then see if you can rearrange your clients session for that afternoon so that you don’t miss out on the paycheck. 

4. Knowledgeable 

person thinking with lightbulb above their head graphic

It’s not enough to be interested in fitness or to just enjoy your own training, if you want to be a good personal trainer, then you need to have the knowledge!

Yes, you might have a training plan that works for you. You think it’s tried and tested, or even foolproof, because you saw results from it. That’s great (for you), but that’s not what makes a good personal trainer.

A good PT knows that what works for one person won’t work for everyone. 

Instead, they have a good knowledge of the fundamentals of fitness, and they can use that knowledge to create different programmes for different clients with different exercise goals. 

The best way to get this knowledge is by completing qualifications. 

Even once you are qualified, your career can only benefit by completing continuing professional development (CPD) courses to build on your existing knowledge and make you a better personal trainer.

You can check out our range of CPD course by following this link: origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/course/cpds

5. Approachable 

graphic of happy personal trainer

Of all of the ideal characteristics of a personal trainer, being approachable is one that’s really important. 

Being an approachable person means that you’re friendly and easy to talk to, it’s a trait that will benefit your clients and your business, as well.

If you come across as an approachable person, then potential clients will do exactly that - they’ll approach you. 

Whether they’ve seen you train other clients, attended one of your classes, or just seen you walking the gym floor, if they think that you look friendly and approachable, then they’ll be more likely to ask you a question or even enquire for a session.

Appearing approachable will also help you with your existing clients. If your clients feel like they can talk to you, they won’t feel scared to ask you questions.

The last thing you want is for your clients to feel like they can’t be honest with you. You want them to feel comfortable enough to come to you for help, and be able to tell you if they’ve not been sticking to their plans or if they aren’t enjoying something.

That way, you can work with them and make the necessary changes. Otherwise, they will become demotivated, stop seeing the benefits of training, and eventually give up on their training. 

Check out this article from Bustle for tips on how to be more approachable.

6. Professional

graphic of business man holding a kettlebell

Creating good relationships with your clients is all part of the process of being a PT, and as we said above, being friendly and approachable is one of the essential characteristics of a good personal trainer.

But at the same time, the ability to bring professionalism to the role is also important.

This is your job at the end of the day, so finding the right balance in your relationships with your clients is essential. 

It’s good to be friendly with clients, as long as that doesn’t come in the way of the session. You will naturally start to chat with your clients but that should never take time away from training. 

Conversation during warm ups or stretches is fine, but if you end up too busy talking throughout the whole session, the client won’t reach their goals or see any changes, and inevitably stop training with you. 

graphic of personal trainer working on their phone

Gyms and leisure centres aren’t your usual office environment but that doesn't mean you should let your standards slip.

Obviously you’ll have a much more relaxed dress code given that you have an active job, but you still need to be well-presented.

You might even be your own boss but that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. 

There’s no one there to tell you to get off your phone but it’s still not ok to check your texts in the middle of a session with a client. So stay off your phone and don’t let your professional standards slip.

7. Punctual

person looking at their watch for punctual personal trainer personality

This a more generic trait, but it’s still important to mention that being punctual is important in this role.

As a PT, it’s good practice to get to the gym at least 5 minutes before your client. That way, you’ll always have time to set up before the session starts and you’ll be ready to greet your client when they arrive.

Being punctual is also important when it comes to sticking to your schedule, some days you’ll be back to back training clients. 

That means that the 5 minutes you ran over at lunch which made you late for your 2pm client, makes you late for your 3pm session, which then carries over into the time you were supposed to start that spin class, creating a knock on effect for your entire day.

8. Organised

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This is another one of the personal trainer traits that isn’t exclusive to being a good PT, but it’s still worth mentioning.

In fact, good organisation skills are essential in this role, and in the fitness industry in general. That’s because chances you’ll be working as a freelance trainer and running your own business at some point in your career.

And as anyone who is self-employed will tell you, being organised is really important. 

As a self-employed PT, you are responsible for setting your own schedule, which is exciting at first, but you’ll soon start to struggle if you don’t work on your time management skills.

Even outside of being self-employed, working for a gym requires a great deal of organisation and time management. You’ll have targets to reach, leads to follow up on, and existing clients to keep happy.

Even the best personal trainers only have 24 hours in a day - so you better get organised.

9. Motivated 

woman doing a star jump graphic

Now back to more specific characteristics of a personal trainer. If you want your personal training career to really take off, then you need to be motivated.

As a career, personal training has the potential to be a well-paid profession, but it’s by no means a get rich quick solution.

You can make a lot of money if you become a successful personal trainer, but that won’t come without a lot of hard work and commitment to your career.

If you want to do well in this industry, then the good news is that there’s plenty of opportunity for you to do so! 

As long as you’re motivated to do well - which you clearly are seeing as you’re searching ‘What makes a good personal trainer’ - then you can make a lot of money in this industry. 

10. Passionate 

graphic of personal trainer thinking about kettlebells

So when we discussed the importance of knowledge, we mentioned that it’s not enough to be interested in fitness, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

In fact, being passionate about fitness is one of the most significant traits of a good PT.

If you want your clients to find their love for fitness, then you need to lead by example. You’ll really struggle to get your clients motivated about a programme if you don’t believe in the process yourself.

Not only that, being passionate about fitness will allow you to become a successful personal trainer because when you’re really passionate about your career, it won’t feel like work. 

If you enjoy your job, you’ll find yourself naturally putting more effort into your work, and going above and beyond for your clients and your business, too.

It’s all very cheesy to say that ‘when you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life’, but in a lot of cases it is true. 

11. Positive

graphic of cheerleader for Characteristics of a good personal trainer

You might be motivated and passionate about fitness, but that might not be the case for your clients. 

If your client is lacking a positive attitude around fitness then it’s the job of any good personal trainer to change that perspective and keep spirits high. 

You need to go into every training session with a positive attitude regardless of what's going on outside of the gym. 

A positive attitude can be contagious, so if you’re positive, and you show off your passion and motivation in every session, then your clients will adopt the same attitude.

The more your clients enjoy their training, the more likely they will continue their PT sessions, and the better results they’ll see. For that reason, being a positive person is an essential part of what makes a good personal trainer.  

12. A Good Teacher

graphic of a PT eating an apple to illustrate good teacher personal trainer traits

One of the personal trainer traits that is often overlooked is the ability to be a good teacher. Personal training is about more than going through the motions of instructing clients to do certain exercises.

In a strength and conditioning study, Kravitz (2010), said:

“A commanding aspect of personal training centers on the attributes and abilities in teaching clients.”

You can go to the Journal of Strength & Conditioning to find the full study on effective teaching strategies and personal training.

There’s only so much you can do in an hour training session, so if you want your clients to see significant results, then you need to teach them how to continue their training outside of your sessions.

It might sound counterproductive to teach your clients how to train without a personal trainer, but trust us - this is the trick to getting clients who train with you for years as opposed to those who you only train for a few of weeks pre-summer holiday.  

The clients who see real results are the ones who will stick around and carry on with their training even once they’ve achieved their initial goals.

So, the ability to teach as well as train is a really important part of being a good personal trainer. 

Providing clients with the right tools to work towards their goals when you aren’t there is the best way to maximise their results. This adds to the benefits that they see from working with a PT, adding to your value, and making them want to continue with their training.

Join 1000s of other Fitness and Health enthusiasts and get updates packed with career advice, nutrition tips, product reviews and more

Before You Go!

So now you know what personality types and traits make a good good personal trainer! Hopefully we’ve helped you to decide whether this is the right career move for you.

If so, the next thing you need is to get the right qualifications.

You can enquire here for our Personal Training Diploma, or to learn more about what a personal trainer course involves, you can download our online prospectus here

References

Dogan, C. (2017). “It’s More than Doing Sports Together, You Know. It’s Deeply Personal”: Preliminary Findings of an Ongoing Qualitative Study on the Relationships between Personal Fitness Trainers and Trainees. Open Journal of Social Sciences. 5, (9). pp. 106-114. 

Kravitz, L. (2010). Highly effective personal training: an evidence-based review of teaching strategies. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 32, (3). pp. 87-89. 

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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