You’ve done your Cert III, done your Cert IV, graduated from a prestigious Fitness school like Personal Training Academy and you now know everything about training don’t you? You don’t? Well, the fact that you know that you don’t is actually a really good starting point. In fact knowing what you don’t know is going to help you immeasurably as I found out when I recently joined a major gym chain. (I’ll also explain what to do when a client asks you something you can’t answer).

Are you ready to go?

After months pouring over the materials, searching the internet and answering so many questions about periodisation, cardio output and so forth you’re finally out and starting to train people. And it may be that you are lucky and get to start with some “beginner” gym-goers who think you’re an expert if you know where the toilets in the gym are! But it may also be that your very first client is a 100kg mountain of muscle whose previous trainer was an international bodybuilding competitor. And he is going to start by asking you which head of the deltoid is the Arnold Press hitting more – that was my exact story. How did I handle this, well deep breaths, buying some time and lot’s of research and preparation as I shall explain?

Most importantly, don’t feel you have to have an answer there and then.

In fact a properly worded reply like, “Let me do a bit of research into that so I can not only confirm that for you but also check what other exercises might even be better for you to use to hit your goals” will let the client know you are going above and beyond for them and that you are cautious and thoughtful. Don’t be drawn into blurting something out because you are on the spot, buy yourself some time, then educate yourself and the client.

Cultivate good resources!

This is another good reason being humble and not acting like a know-it-all will benefit you – other trainers at the gym will be much more inclined to help you. Of course, you’ll need to sift their information, but in time your manager, other trainers, checking with your training provider, textbooks and of course the internet will help you research and find almost everything you need. You may not have realised it, but what you have really embarked on in this career is a never-ending research into and improvement in your knowledge of how the body works.

Admit what you can’t/won’t/don’t do.

I have a great client who wanted to get into doing some Olympic lifting, and I admit at first it threw me because I don’t do that and I would not feel confident training him in it. So I told him that, and also that I’d help him find someone who would train him if that’s what he really wants, but I also dug a little deeper and asked why he wanted to do this. When we talked further it turns out we could achieve his goals without resorting to Olympic lifting, and he was happy to keep going with me.

As the months roll on you will get all sorts of challenging questions and situations to face but if you can remember to buy yourself time, research and get the right answer, and never be afraid to say you don’t know or can’t do it if it comes to that, then you will build your knowledge, reputation and your clients fitness in the best possible way.

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