This is the most basic mistake that is often made by many who are associated with the fitness industry. You can earn a decent living in this field but don't aim to own a Rolls Royce someday by doing fitness coaching.
This is a field where most of the business and management principles fail because the product is the professional, not the place or equipments. Also the product that we serve to people...like getting fitter or performing rehabilitation is not an immediate necessity of life for most unlike medical care. Yes, read the above line again - coz that's a truth that's better understood sooner than later. It is for this very reason that many businesspeople burn their fingers in this field because their regular principles and experience of business just don't cut it here.No wonder a lot of gyms/fitness businesses close down because they simply apply the principles of product marketing while forgetting the human element in it. Aim to be a good service provider, not a forceful service seller. Don't be the guy who forces clients to buy supplements or packages so that you can make your cut. You might make 100 or 1000 bucks, but you will lose 100000 worth of credibility and trust if you hard sell. The truth is that this field is like that of a doctor. The doctor cures - not the hospital! So rather focus on being like a good doctor, than simply aiming to build your own huge hospital. So in your quest to make more money don't spread yourself too thin or your quality will drop. Can you think of any of the best trainers in the world who ended up in the 100 richest people on the planet? The answer is a simple no. If making large amounts of money is your sole aim then it's better to choose another profession or you'll end up bitter in the fitness field in the long run. There will be tough and challenging times in this profession, and I've been through them a couple of times as well, and it's never smooth sailing all the time. I believe that Success in fitness coaching is a journey, not a destination.You can also compare this field to being like a chef. As long as the chef cooks well people come for the food. In the same manner as long as the trainer trains well people will come for training.A restaurant without a great chef but with great ambience - Can impress you once but not forever.
Try to be like a master chef who is good with his skills and you will never be out of work! And let your work be the judge not your own judgement.
Going through hundreds of certifications and degrees while not understanding your students/clients needs is really a waste. When a client comes to you, listen to them and understand their problem/s. Find out what help they need from you. Shoving your knowledge down a clients throat is not what they pay you for - but do go through that knowledge in your head to find out what will be the best applicable approach for that particular client.
But just because you have done a new course on a certain topic doesn't mean that you have to try it out on your client. Ask yourself and your students if they need this first in the first place.
In my whole career no client/student has ever asked me to show my credential certificates...this is so because the client doesn't really care much what or where you studied - ACSM, NASM, NSCA, ACE, ISSA or whatever else you've done. Whether you possess a certificate, diploma, degree, masters or PhD qualification....it's only useful to the client as long as you can be of help for them in their fitness and strength and conditioning goals.
Qualifications don't make us better or greater - good work does.
Remember that when we complete our qualifications there are probably 30 or 50 others that finish along with us, and we're only as good as that whole group from a qualification point of view. Getting qualified is really the easiest part.
Qualifying is like a marriage ceremony...just an easy ritual and piece of paper. Living it successfully is an altogether different ball game.
So remember that your results will show your work. That's the bottom line.
Also clients and students aren't really interested in how hard you can punch, or how much you can bench press, or how long you can run, or how well defined your six-pack is (all these are good for you!)- but the client truly and rightfully only cares about what you can do for them.
Therefore, ask what's in it for them, not you!
So respect your clients/students because they are your bread and butter.
I'll repeat, learn anatomy and kinesiology to become good at it. Because this is always going to be the base on which all exercise techniques, routines and programming will be done. Without a good base in anatomy and kinesiology you will never understand which muscles are being used and what actions are taking place.
Look at exercises and movements three-dimensionally. You should know which muscles work in a certain action/s, the plane of motion, type of muscle contraction, etc and how speed, load and position influences their roles.
This might sound harsh but nothing is more unprofessional then when you are chatting/texting on the phone, checking yourself out in the mirror, joking with colleagues or sitting down while training students/clients. Ask yourself how would you take such behaviour if you were the paying client?
Never take them for granted because they pay your bills really!
We often get caught up in trying to find the newest method of training or exercises, and end up forgetting the simple basics of training. A plyometric move might look great but first ask yourself if the student/client has enough base muscle endurance and strength to be able to take it.
If you can do it doesn't mean your clients should do it.
I have also made this mistake in my career where I looked out for new moves hoping that it helps, but unless the 'old' is optimally prepared for the 'new' it won't be effective - if you know what I mean.
Teaching rope slams to someone who can't even flex pain-free at the hips and knees and for someone with poor upper body strength is only going to look tough till something breaks. Keep it simple and specific to the client/student.
If you're interested in working with sportspersons then buckle up and humble down because simply making a student sweat it out is not good enough here. It is definitely the next level of coaching and can be very exciting.
But don't get too carried away thinking that you were the reason if your player or team wins :-) Just ask yourself and the player if they became stronger and fitter under you. If you did that then you've done your limited job.
Whether it's an Olympic athlete or a school level sportsperson, our job is to ensure that we improve their strength and conditioning because both come to us and pay us for the same intention.
So they should both be equally important.
Whenever a player or team wins everybody right from the sponsor, parents, coaches, strength coaches, physiotherapists, supplement company, nutritionists, masseur, manager, academy, equipment manufacturer and many others are either given credit or take credit.
All the above do play specific roles in a players making. But it's only the sportsperson thats really great because he/she ends up using all that's at their disposal at the right time. Which is why out of every country, province, city, zone, academy, school, class, etc only a few excel though their colleagues too have the same access.
Remember that there are two basic roles that we can play in what is really required by the athlete from us - to get them stronger(fitter) or to rehabilitate them out of an injury.
Do whichever is your expertise and do what they pay you for...and stick to that.
Don't become the marriage counsellor to your clients no matter how good you think you are at that. Stick to what you have studied/practiced and what you get paid for
It's a bitter truth to swallow for us 'experts' but Champion's in sport are born no matter what we might think.
if Michael Phelp's coaches and the whole team gets together and copy his complete training schedule, diet plan, strength routine and recovery protocols to the T, can they create another Phelps?
If you answered yes to that, then you really deserve the Noble prize for your thinking ;-)
Just thank god for giving you the opportunity to work with sportspersons and just get them strong, but always remember that you can't make them win, they do that.
If you work in physically demanding individual sports then it's going to be even harder because there is no 'team'-work' that makes the players win.
And do remember that different sports have different fitness requirements. Don't have a simple "Train hard or go home approach" and then make a chess player lift like an Olympic lifter just to make yourself look hard, and in the process give them a lower back strain. Then you did really make them go home, never to return to you .
Majority of sportspersons train at a much higher level than what most of us trainers can ever do. We're nowhere close to them. The strength and conditioning programming only assists a sportsperson no matter what our ego tells us because - They win medals in the ring/court/field/track, etc not in the gym.
So dump your ego too in the toilet every morning.
Also don't get caught up in your own greatness if someone training under you wins a competition, because then you will the lose focus on what's really important - which is coaching.
In my opinion if you are getting paid for your service then there is nothing great in whatever you're doing. The real great people are those who give up steady careers to help the old, sick, poor, war-affected, etc.
It's funny how as fitness coaches we are quick to take credit/compliments and averse to any criticism. Both are to be respected simply as other peoples good or bad opinions and should be taken thankfully - and then we should get back to what we are paid to do- which again is coaching fitness.
Personal training, strength and conditioning, gym instruction, etc are still new professions really. Our grandfathers didn't do it. And as much as we might like to think that we can build champions through our 'new-age' expert fitness training - strong physical specimens and champions like Pele, Ali, Bruce Lee, Schwarzenegger and Maradona and many others existed long before fitness was really packaged as a science. Point is that Champions are born and we're just lucky to be around them in gods scheme of things.
And don't forget that the technical coach and the sportsperson are always going to be the boss, because it's they who really know what needs to be done in the sport to improve playing technique and win.
If only fitness could win medals then every super-fit person in the gym would be an Olympic medallist. Truth is that it is their sport specific skills, and not just muscles or fitness alone, that make a Cristiano Ronaldo, Kobe Bryant, Nadal and others champions in their sports. Our teaching does have a role to play but don't get too carried away by it.
But after all this, if you still feel that a sportsperson/team wins mainly because of your great contribution to make them fit, then you too deserve a Noble Prize for revolutionary thinking .
Keep an open mind to learn and watch. Fitness coaching is not hard science. Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen makes water. But two identical training programmes won't give you the same results with two people, which is why fitness training is an art as much as a science.
Keep an eye out for what colleagues and competitors do and like Bruce Lee said Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.
Don't get into the mine better than yours approach. Humans have messed up the world by doing this to religions. Let's not do this to fitness. There is always something to learn for everyone from the various systems of yoga, Cross-fit, bodybuilding, corrective exercise, martial arts, power lifting, dance aerobics, etc. None of them is the best just like there is no best style of fighting in a real situation. The move that worked at that particular time is the best.
Also accept that some clients will move away from you and begin training with others due to various reasons. This is part of the profession. Don't get personal if someone decides to train elsewhere for whatever reason. Just stick with what you're good at and keep doing that because it's all that matters.
Share a bit of what you know to fresher people in the field. It's like sharing food...only when you share some of what you have, do you make place for more on your plate.
Do and say good to others and it will come back to you somewhere/sometime.
Do and say bad to others and it will come back to you somewhere/sometime.
Choice is yours.
Karma is for real and god doesn't have time to wait and settle your karma accounts till your next life. You clear all your dues m, sooner or later, right here on planet earth ;-)
Lots of new or young trainers get into this field thinking about how they will someday train a celebrity or famous person. Remember that the famous person too only has a human body and it's important that you work with them equally professionally. Ask yourself and your client (celebrity or regular) as to what you have achieved in the time that they spent with you.
In short - treat everyone like a celebrity!
You can't be the best in fitness coaching because there is no competition to judge the best. The famous trainers and the not so famous trainers all do the same job, and truly speaking no one is better than the other because there is no way to judge that really speaking.
So don't try to beat others - beat yourself at your own work.
In the same manner there is no certificate or degree to certify you as 'Expert trainer' or 'Celebrity trainer'. In my opinion both are just meaningless tags really.
It takes around 3 to 5 years to really gain experience and confidence to do a good job. Getting a degree or certificate after your course is just a piece of paper if you don't have good work to show. Just focus on doing a good job consistently over the years and everything else will fall into place.
Don't focus too much on competitors or yourself as well. Focus on the work that you are doing and like I said earlier the best way to know if you're doing good is to ask your clients and to check the results.
You might work with women with very well-maintained body's who would feel very comfortable wearing shorts, tights, sports bras, etc. Hold your horses and treat them with the same respect your girlfriend, wife or sister deserves.
Stand beside them and not in front when they perform exercises that require bending down such as stiff-legged deadlift, push ups, etc. Turn your face away when they they feel uncomfortable coming out of a posture, exercise, machine, etc
It is also your duty to be aware of how to make a lady client be comfortable when she is training in a location when many men are around.
If you have to touch a body part such as the scapular stabilisers or the legs to point out a specific muscle contraction then so by putting your finger tips on that area or better still with a pen. Don't place your open palm on a given body part or area.
Do not make them do stretches in awkward positions where you make the female client feel uncomfortable - such as holding them from behind while standing or making them lie on the floor with their legs in awkward positions.
Check if your clothes stink of sweat. Along with regular washing also soak your t-shirts and workout apparel in soap for one hour once every fortnight to deep clean your clothes. Due to the physical nature of our work we trainers actually stink more than we assume.
Use underarm roll ons or better still, shave off your armpits. Wear clean socks and as it's quite disgusting for a client to perform floor exercises while a trainer with smelly socks/shoes walks around them.
Stuff newspaper inside your shoes when you reach home to keep them dry. And keep your socks open to dry instead of rolling them into a ball. Place naphthalene balls in the area around your shoes.
Keep a bottle of listerine in your bag and use it whenever you eat strong flavoured foods with onions and garlic. Don't scratch your head or bum or dig your nose while speaking to clients. If you sneeze then cover your nose with a handkerchief or your hands and immediately wash them after.
Nothing is worse than a smelly and stinking trainer in an enclosed AC gym.
A mentor who is himself successful can show you what it takes to do a good job. Learn from another professional from a different field such as a successful accountant, doctor, chef, etc because they can teach without feeling insecure to share their views as you wouldn't be competition.
But choose a mentor wisely - or it will be a case of blind leading the blind
Take it easy with coaching and training. Don't forget to enjoy the journey of teaching/coaching. Sometimes many of us, especially, sports trainers get too caught up in the discipline aspect. Discipline is important but you have to be known for your expertise more than the discipline, because anybody can be strict but not everybody can teach well. At the end of the day, you are paid for what work you can do with the clients, not to create fake military commandos in the gym :-))
Also if a famous person trains with you, then don't get get carried away thinking that you too are a celeb . Keep it real!
We need to have wings to fly to achieve our dreams...but we need our feet too when we come back to ground. Stay balanced.
Like I said earlier, our grandfathers didn't do the job that we are doing because it didn't exist, so we don't really have history to look upto for guidance.
But hopefully our grandchildren can look upto the work and professionalism that we will create in the fitness industry.
So do good work now so that your work stays in demand even when you become a grandfather!