What makes a good trainer great Part 1: The principles of Common Sense

By: Mike Collette

The Role and responsibility a trainer and coach is to change the lives of your client or athlete, decrease risk of injury and facilitate their motivation. These few tips are what can make a good coach or trainer great. These things need to happen everyday!

1.) Caring, empathy and integrity

If you show someone you whole heatedly care about them and you have their best interest in mind, you might find a client for life. If you steer them wrong or betray their trust in you, you have lost and potentially gained an “enemy” This person will not refer you.
You don’t know where someone has come from or the struggles they might endure, but this needs to be an opportunity to emphasize with your members and clients to reiterate that you care about them. Anything you can do to help someone get better in and out of the gym speaks of you character.
Creating an utmost honest and friendly environment for each one of your clients or members is essential to success. Your clients need to trust you. Once they trust you it is your responsibility to deliver not only a quality service to them but stay true to your word. Stick to appointment times, never be late, always be early and ready to give your client your utmost attention

2.) Professionalism


I can’t stress this enough. Your clients time is your clients time. Not time to text or chat with others. If you create an environment that becomes toxic people will notice and leave no matter how sound proof your programming and training is. You must treat every member and client the same. Granted you will have your favorites, you need to put as much effort and pride in each training session regardless of the person you are coaching or training.

Breaching the client/trainer professional boundary is a dicey road. You do not want to develop a poor brand of yourself as “the trainer/coach who hooks up with his/her clients”. This is extremely unprofessional and unacceptable. You do not train to hook up, you train because its your passion and you want to help people. With that said, attraction and relationships happen, if this happens, you must end the client/trainer relationship. You can no longer train them or get paid.

3.) Knowledge, intelligence and fast action

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you lose credibility fast. Your knowledge on what you do must be up to date and you must want to learn everything you can to make yourself the best. This is the high road to success. Know more than others and you will continue to be on top. Getting comfortable with the way things are is never the best option. Keep learning. Pick the brains of those you look up to, read an hour a day on something that will help you clients and yourself in this field.
Knowledge and intelligence are different in my opinion. Knowledge is knowing, intelligence is applying it to action. For example, you could know everything there is to know about how to teach a deadlift, but you better be smart enough to know that that member with the L5 disc herniation shouldn’t be doing it.
A skill that is hard to learn is acting on the fly. How do you instantly know how to modify a movement or exercise for someone if you are coaching a class of 10 and you have a few people with limitations. You need to do something that will elicit the same effect, can’t be the same as yesterday and most importantly it can’t hurt them. How is this done? Practice. Get familiar with your people, know their limitations and have a mental map of how to modify the WOD specifically for people.

4.) Relationships

Building a friendly relationship with you clients is great, I highly recommend it. With that said, in the professional environment, keep it professional.
Back to caring about your members, you should know them as if they are your family because essentially they are. You might actually spend more time with you clients and members than you do with your own family, I know I do. You should know what your clients do for work, you should remember if your client mentioned if his or her child was playing in the championship game and ask them how they did! These are the small things that forge long lasting relationships that show you care about your clients because you should.

5.) Knowing your Roles and Responsibilities

You do not get paid as a trainer to monitor. Your job is to train. Your job as a coach isn’t just to cheerlead. Your job is to coach. This seems very simple but the energy you put into an early morning session, mid morning session and evening session should all be the same. Your quality of instruction should never suffer. Get in peoples faces, make them stop if they aren’t doing something right. The last thing you want is a client or athlete to get hurt because of negligence on your part. You are the authority when you are training. Do not ever let a client tell you what they should do if its going to be dangerous.
Here are a couple tips I have given trainers and CrossFit coaches:
Move around during a class. You don’t have to over coach but make sure people are doing things well.
Never sit. Never use you phone during a session unless its for a particular purpose or emergency. That is a given.
These are the standards I was taught and always live by. This is what I expect from everyone of our coaches and trainers here at CFP. This speaks excellence.These are our standards of excellence. We want to embody excellence and this is where it starts.
What makes a good trainer a great trainer: Part 2: The intangibles

No matter what you learn in college, through a book, online etc; experience trumps all. As you progress in a career you learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom. I definitely learned this coming out of school. Yes, the raw knowledge helps and boosts your confidence while training but there is much more to it than taking blood pressure and measuring body fat composition. These are the things that can’t necessarily be thought but can be developed through experience and working with a multitude of people. Here is a short yet comprehensive list of these intangible qualities that help set good trainers apart from great trainers.
1.) Confidence
If you bleed confidence in what you teach and preach, your credibility and respect will be earned. This is far more important than your paycheck.
2.) Social Skills
Can you hold a conversation if need be? Can you interact with people of different ages and gender? Do you know more than just “working out”? I have always said, you can be the smartest person in the world and be able to program the most efficient fitness plans for people but if you don’t have the mental capacity to carry out a conversation, its meaningless.
3.) Personality
Are you approachable? Do you give off a “scary” vibe? Do you have a warm and caring personality? Personality can build trust and friendship which can gain you clients for life. This important for getting clients and also maintaining a clientele.
4.) Business Sense
A.) Become an expert
B.) Develop your brand
C.) Make smart decisions
D.) Never sell yourself short
E.) Continue to get people results and referrals
5.) The little things
Birthdays, events, remembering important things you clients tell you, noticing your female clients new hair cut. People know you care if you can do this. They see that you take interest in them, that you aren’t just a drone. So ask yourself; Do I care about my clients? Are you just in this for the money? If don’t care and if this is just a “job” you won’t be successful.
6.) Setting expectations and standards
Are you on time? Do you set rules and guidelines with clients? You create the standard and expectations for your business. Your success with this is the difference between you working more than you have to and giving yourself a million headaches.As a Personal Trainer you are more than a rep counter and a cheerleader. But at the same time, sitting by a clients side with your clipboard, on your cell phone and eating a sandwich doesn’t bode well with people. If you want to keep clients you need to keep them happy, you need to get them results. But most importantly, you need to keep it fun. No matter how cool you are, if a client gets bored and isn’t seeing results, why would they pay you $100 an hour?
We are in an industry where you are interacting with people. You need to set yourself aside from the other thousands of trainers and coaches out there to develop a definitive brand for yourself and grow your business. If you just follow these general guidelines, you will NOT increase your net worth and business. You have to genuinely care about others. These things should be natural. If training and coaching doesn’t feel like a job, that means you love it. Now become the knowledgeable expert to back it up!