There are a lot of paths to success in the fitness industry, but one thing is for sure: you won’t get anywhere doing the bare minimum. In fact, with more people than ever joining the ranks of personal training, it’s more important than ever to stand out.

Great trainers come in all shapes and sizes but they all seem to have one thing in common: they act like professionals. And in an industry that often presents itself as far too casual, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to be seen as a pro.

Not sure what under-performing looks like? Check out the top 6 things trainers should never do below and you will already be ahead of the crowd. 

[1] Look like you just rolled out of bed

Yes, you may train somebody at 5:00 AM. And yes, it’s fine if they show up looking like they just rolled out of bed. However, you won’t get too far with high paying clients if you show up looking like a trainwreck. 

If you want to be seen as a professional and make this career work, then you need to look the part. That doesn’t mean you can’t be edgy and chic but bedhead is never en vogue. One of the perks of being a personal trainer is wearing comfy clothes to work everyday, but when it comes time to make the right choice in your closet, leave the old comfy sweatpants at home.

Not sure how to dress? Stick with some high-quality athletic gear from your favorite manufacturer such as Nike, Under Armour, or Lululemon. Just make sure it’s appropriate for your clientele and the personal brand you want to be building. Shorts that are too short or sleeveless shirts may send the wrong message about your professionalism so choose wisely!

[2] Show up without a plan

Although many workout plans have to be adjusted on the spot, it’s obvious when a trainer shows up without one. And it’s a bad look. 

You spend time fumbling around with attachments and floating from spot to spot in the gym buying time while you come up with the next set. Is it better than nothing? Maybe, but that’s not the path to consistently great results and a memorable training experience. 

Instead, you should have the majority of your workouts planned before your clients show up. Not sure exactly how many reps your client will be able to do or how much rest will be needed? That’s perfectly ok. Just make sure your plan addresses the key elements of any good workout as well as your client’s preferences.

Need something to get you started? Grab our free workout templates here so you’re always prepared.

[3] Use your phone during sessions

It’s one thing to take a video to show your clients their form, or to take a quick picture to share on social media (it’s no secret that’s an easy way to grow your business, just don’t post it during your session) but it’s a whole different story if you find yourself scrolling on the gram and reading emails during a client session. 

You might program on your phone and maybe even track metrics in an app, but think about using an iPad or tablet instead as it can create a drastically different visual for potential clients who may be checking you out in the gym. There may be exceptions, but clients are paying for your coaching expertise and attention, so even if they’re just holding a plank for a minute, give them everything you got. 

[4] Expect your clients to remember their training times

You should absolutely be confirming your sessions with your clients the day before, it comes off as organized and professional. People need and want your accountability, that’s why they hired you in the first place. Not to mention, staying on top of this will help you avoid odd gaps in your schedule and maintain a better cash flow from consistent training sessions.

*Pro tip: If you only train a couple clients a day then sending text or email reminders may not be too much work, but we recommend automating the process. Find a software (like the ones mentioned below) that will automatically confirm appointments or send reminders to clients 24 hours in advance.

[5] Keep track of everything “in your head”

It might be easy to know when you have training sessions scheduled with just a few clients, but as you get busier you need to have some formalized systems for payments, session tracking, and client management. These days there is no excuse for not being organized. 

Systems like Vagaro, PTMinder, and others out there cost as little as $30-$50/month and pay for themselves by keeping you on track, preventing any mistakes with billing, and building a consistent schedule. This not only makes it simple and stress free when it comes making sure clients are paid up for sessions, but it’s also a great way to be able to track and forecast how much money you truly are bringing in week to week.

[6] Wait until you lose clients to start looking for new ones

Nothing can keep your prices high and your time valuable like being in-demand. Whether it’s a waitlist to book a training session with you or constantly putting feelers out and networking with new clients, you should have some sort of back-up system for when you lose a client. 

Regardless of how great of a trainer you are, client turnover and travel are part of any appointment based gig. People move, their finances change, or life just gets in the way for a while. Prevent a drop in income by having potential clients on the backburner and never stop prospecting for new potentials. Get complacent here and it’s easy to find yourself going from booked solid to just scraping by in 6-8 months time. 

The list could go on, but you get the point. It’s not only about looking like a pro, but also having the systems under the hood to make sure you are creating memorable experiences for clients while helping them reach their goals.

Being a great trainer takes more time and energy to maintain, but there is no future in going amateur in this biz. You’re in this for the long haul, right?

Want to learn first-hand how to become a successful trainer from industry veterans? Click here to learn more about our hands-on personal training certification prep course.