After being in the industry for 15 years I’ve seen personal trainers make a number of mistakes. New personal trainers often make mistakes because of a lack of experience. 


So I thought, I would share the advice of experienced personal trainers. Personal Trainers who have made their mistakes. Trainers who have honed their professional skills, to become great personal trainers. 

Before we dive in to finding out what makes a great personal trainer. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest industry news and insight for personal trainers.  


Are you thinking of becoming a personal trainer? Have you qualified and are now preparing for interviews for your first position? Are you working as a personal trainer and finding it hard to pick up clients? 


This post is here to help you learn what it will take to be a successful personal trainer. Every trainer has different skills.. We all have a good idea of what we are good and not so good at. Having this sense of personal self awareness is a really useful skill when it comes to personal development. Being able to identify our own strengths and weaknesses can help us find the answers to our own problems. 


If you have a skill that is weaker than it should be, what can you do? Options you could look at are reading books; sharing ideas with colleagues, reading blogs, watching videos, listening to podcasts. You could also attend training and coaching workshops, gain a new qualification. Or, find established experts to help you (experienced personal trainers). 

Why Being a Personal Trainer is Like Cycling in The Dark Without a Map


Picture the scene. 


You’re cycling the hills of Yorkshire. There are no road signs, no people, and no road markings.


Hours pass by, you’ve seen no one since you left home.  You begin to wonder where you are. Are you going in the right direction? Have you missed a turn, gone too far, or you’ve not gone far enough yet? 


Your bike begins to make some awful sounds in the gears. The chain is slipping, your brakes are failing, and you think you have a puncture.


Despite all this, you breathe deep, ignore the problems and pedal on. Because your route is not on the map, friends have told you it’s worth the effort. 


But It’ll  be dark soon, you’ve run out of food and your hydration pack is empty. 


Personal training is very much like riding a bike in the dark with no map. You’ll get there in the end but, you’ll feel lost at times and doubt that you will ever get there. 


It’s difficult when you feel like you’ve wasted time or put effort into the wrong things. If you’re like me you will become highly frustrated with yourself. 

Like most personal trainers, I searched for road signs. I looked for helpful directions from people that had made the route before me. At the start I tried to find my own way, I did get lost, very lost on some occasions. I quickly realised that seeking out the success of others, would help me find the right route.

To help all of you aspiring personal trainers looking for advice on how to become a great personal trainer. I have asked industry experienced personal trainers one simple question,  “What makes a successful personal trainer”

Here’s what they all had to say. 

1. Kyle Green – Personal Trainer, Physique Athlete, Physique Judge

Every personal trainer is different and the challenge is to know your own strengths and improvement areas. Knowing these things helps you become a better personal trainer.

For me, it was a tricky question to answer because there are a lot of things that make a great personal trainer. 

Building relationships with my clients and possible clients really helped me understand what they needed from me. My clients have become my biggest advocates by me being able to actively listen to the real “why” they were looking for support with their health and fitness. 

Listening to my clients real needs has allowed me to build a service they benefit from and enjoy, that has been my number one strategy to help them. 


2. Catarina Facco Vianna – Personal Trainer, Influencer

My main passion was a desire to help others with their health and fitness goals, it is what makes me excited to work with clients; motivate them, encourage them, and challenge them when things just aren’t going right. It’s passion that has been the source of my own motivation and what has motivated my clients to choose and to continue training with me. 

Good relationships with clients will help you build long term clients and new client referrals. Having good, genuine relationships with your clients helps you understand who they are and show them who you are. 

As a fitness professional, it is important to be proactive and do your research when you don’t know something, taking additional training will help you work with more clients and build your own knowledge.

Finally, it is so important to be organised, there is nothing worse than not knowing your schedule or not showing up to a session, leaving a clients waiting for you. 


3. Gary Mendoza – Personal Trainer, Educator, Behaviour Change Specialist

I have been a personal trainer for 25 years, the one thing that stands out is how little I was taught about behaviour change. Clients hire personal trainers for a range of health and fitness reasons, losing weight being a large proportion of requests.

As a trainer it is important to not only understand what the client wants, but are they ready to make the changes they will need to make to achieve their goal.

That’s our job, to identify the psychological readiness or willingness in some cases. Once you know this, you can apply the correct and relevant strategies so your client can maintain the changes they will need to make.


4. Ryan Dunne – Personal Trainer, owner of Fresh4Life Fitness

Before becoming a personal trainer my first career was in healthcare, patients and service users sometimes feel nervous and anxious for various reasons. Communication was a really powerful tool I developed quickly to support people I worked with. It’s not just about talking, it’s being able to listen, the language you use, how you say things and when to say things. 

To relate and be able to and communicate with people, is an important skill every trainer should work on. When I changed careers to become a personal trainer. My communication skills helped me feel more relaxed when approaching new gym members. If communication is something you are not confident with, it’s definitely worth investing some time to grow this skill.


5. Jonathan Walker – Personal Trainer, Gym & Restaurant Owner

Patience really is a virtue with anything that you do, starting a personal training career requires lots of it while you learn the skills you don’t learn until you need them. Building a client base does take time, you need to find the right clients and let members know you are available to support them. 

Attracting potential new clients requires time to build trust. While you do that, you need to be patient. During this time you must continually display why you, would be a good investment in their health and fitness goals. 

Every client is also very different, teaching one client to squat over another will take a different amount of time. As a trainer it is important to be patient while the client works things out, and while you work out the best way to help them. 

6. Alessandra Tumolo – Personal Trainer, Sports Therapist 

From my experience the one thing that makes a really great personal trainer is someone who becomes a specialist. The more niche you are, the greater your knowledge of that specific area, the more sought after you become. 

Too many trainers try to be a specialist in everything and end up becoming mediocre at all of them. In my career I restricted my services to what I knew best and made myself into an expert of my chosen area. I now specialise in rehabilitation and therapy. Find a niche and become a specialist personal trainer. 


7. Lee Bell – TRA Performance Director, University Educator, Personal Trainer 

The fitness industry is dynamic and fast paced, with new training strategies emerging almost weekly. The unfortunate reality is that to be the best you need to invest time, energy and resources into your education and not rest on your laurels. 

I’ve been a fitness educator for over 10 years now and have seen a clear correlation between those that are successful trainers and those that are willing to invest in their craft. That’s the reason we set up TRA Performance Education – to provide a platform for personal trainers to continue with their ongoing development.


8.  Labonita Zakaria – Yoga Teacher, Personal Trainer, Founder of Temple of Strength Studio

A successful PT is someone who has integrity, always strives to get the best out of each and every one of their clients.  Most of all, someone who is always looking to stay on top of their education. 

Achieving the level 3 PT qualification and relying on the knowledge that you have learnt, is just the start.

In my career I have encountered people with every type of health and fitness goal you can think of, alongside suffering from various health conditions and mobility issues. You always have to stay on top of education in order to provide the best service you can. People are trusting you with their most prized possession, their health and fitness.  

Almost There, Let’s Recap…

As a personal trainer, realising you’ve only got a vague idea of where you’re going is never pleasant. 

Hopefully the advice from experienced personal trainers in this post will help you figure out what you will need to become a successful personal trainer. 

All of the interviewees have had their own failings and successes throughout their careers. If you are struggling and not sure how to improve your own skills, don’t take that as a sign to turn around and go home, keep going. 

All of the responses from our experts refer to one key word “habits”, to become a personal trainer who is successful and good at their trade, it is important to build on your professional and personal habits, the same way we coach clients to achieve their fitness goals. 


Compound Your Skills

Are you practicing any of the tips in this post? To become a successful personal trainer the first place to start is, yourself. Ask yourself what are you good at and what you know you need help with. Once you’ve done this, you can then build a plan to move towards your goal. Set yourself goals and work at them every day, consider each day as 1% improvements, as each day passes, you improve. You will improve more than you think.

If you  start improving on a goal today, tomorrow you will be twice as good as you were. Here’s where the magic happens, on day 3 you are six times as good as you were. Why you ask? Compounding! This is the power of compounding, your skills growing and growing with time. A concept very well known in financial investing. The only difference is, you are investing in yourself. By day 10, you will be 3.6 million times better at your skill. All it takes is 1% improvements every day until you reach your goal. 

When you need some inspiration, use this post to help you, write down what you need help with and get in touch, we might just be the sounding board you need to get back on your bike and lead your own race.