What Skills Do You Need to Become a Personal Trainer?

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Personal Trainer?

Being a personal trainer requires great responsibility, and therefore a different level of skill is required to be able to do this particular profession. There are numerous qualities a personal trainer will have, and as a personal trainer there will be different qualities required depending on the kind of work you wish to do.

Personal Training Qualification

The first key quality of any personal trainer is to be properly qualified. A personal trainer needs to have achieved at least a Level 3 Personal Training qualification. This must be endorsed by CIMSPA, which is the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. Once this qualification is obtained a personal trainer can then acquire the necessary credentials to be able to start as a personal trainer.

Skills and Qualities of a Personal Trainer

A personal trainer needs to be multi-skilled in many different ways, including skills in

  • programme design
  • client consultations
  • working with clients
  • motivating clients
  • being able to inspire and coach a client on a one-to-one basis to achieve goals which will have been set at the start of the programme.

These are very important skills for a personal trainer to possess as the essence of the role is that the trainer will be working one-to-one with clients. It is quite imperative therefore that a personal trainer has interpersonal skills to be able to work one-to-one with a client.

A Closer Look at Interpersonal Skills for a Personal Trainer

Understanding Your Client - Being able to understand your client during a consultation at the beginning - to understand their needs, their barriers, and their reasons for exercising - is very important. A key attribute for a personal trainer to own is to be able to listen and understand what their client is saying is.

Setting Goals and Creating a Programme – It is important to be able to set goals for your client which are SMART – which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed – and to be able to agree with your client where you are going to take them on their fitness journey. Working with the client and designing a programme for the client are vital skills. To be able to have the knowledge and skill to design a long-term periodised programme for your client is essential to your work as a personal trainer. It is not just about allocating some random exercises for a client. A good personal trainer will have a strong rationale behind all choices that they make. A lot of skill is therefore involved in designing a bespoke, specific programme for a particular client to meet their goals and needs.

Inspiring and Motivating - Motivating the client throughout is going to be very valuable skill for a personal trainer to possess. A personal trainer must inspire and motivate, making their client want to exercise and take part, and giving them hope that they are achieving their goals. A personal trainer must give them the motivation needed to continue the programme and the inspiration to do well.

Client Safety – In order to work with a client on a one-to-one basis and deliver a programme to a client, a personal trainer must not only be motivational but also must be very cautious of safety and aspects such as technique and how the client is doing a particular exercise. This is where some fine coaching skills come in because it is not just about standing next to your client and motivating them, but it is looking at their lifting technique or their running technique, at their posture and at their activation of their core etc. It is important that a personal trainer has the skill to look at the technique and how the client is performing an exercise, and then be able to praise anything that’s good and critique anything that needs to be improved. A personal trainer needs to ensure that coaching points are in place and anything that needs correcting is done so during the session. Vigilance is an important skill when working with a client on a one-to-one basis.

Keeping Records - All work with a client must be documented, so it is very important that a personal trainer possesses some organisational and administrative skills. A personal trainer must also be able to keep all information in accordance with the data protection and GDPR regulations. It is important that information on the client is stored safely and appropriately, and it is essential that records are kept of each session and each plan. There should be a full audit trail of what the trainer has done with each client. A certain degree of administration/organisation skill is therefore definitely required for managing clients as a personal trainer.

Running a Business - A final point to touch on is the business side of things. A personal trainer is usually a self-employed, freelance position, and therefore a personal trainer will need to find their own clients. A personal trainer will need to be able to promote themselves and have a basic knowledge of marketing and promotion in order to find and attract new clients. This could be through word of mouth, digital advertising, local media advertising, or it could be through social media. There are numerous ways a personal trainer can promote themselves. It could be a simple as being a friendly figure in the gym and talking to the members, or it could be something more adventurous such as creating an advertising campaign. Whichever route is chosen, a personal trainer must be able to attract their own clients. A personal trainer is essentially running a business, so a certain degree of business savvy is required. They don’t need to be a high-level businessperson to be able to be a personal trainer, but some business skills are required. As a personal trainer will be operating as a small business there will need to be some knowledge for keeping records, and of any relevant employment law, taxes, and business record requirements.

In Conclusion

All elements discussed within this blog are elements which are included in the Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, and so all the different attributes of a personal trainer and more are all included in a legitimate CIMPSA endorsed Level 3 Personal Trainer Course. In summary, this article has looked at numerous skills and qualities that are needed by a personal trainer to be effective in what they do. I hope this article has been inspiring and provides you with some inspiration for your career as a personal trainer.


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