8 Traps for the Career Trainer

 Welcome to an industry where people with an overnight cert can take your clients and money. Even if it’s unfair, is there anything we can learn from these people?

Those who lack dedication will likely weed themselves out. But some have potential to be great trainers. They just need a little bit of direction. Most quality trainers have great intentions when they start, but get lost in this crazy industry. In this blog post, I provide a few tips that might allow us to keep the good ones. 

A career trainer has to do their job with a purpose of changing lives. Suck it up, buttercup, and see if you like your job enough to work all day long on a training floor.

No one would blame you for falling for one of these 8 traps for the career trainer. Quick, easy money is enticing. But if you really want a lifelong career as a fitness professional, read on to learn how to avoid the minefield. 

Trap #1: Getting promoted too soon 

In theory, it sounds great to become a manager of a gym within your first year. And financially, that might be the best option for you. But are you really prepared for the job?

Getting promoted before you’ve had a chance to learn from your mistakes and mentors can derail your career down the road. If you have aspirations to make fitness a profitable career, spend years on the floor, interacting with clients, perfecting your art of coaching. 

That doesn’t mean you have a turn down a promotion if you’re doing great things. But if you do get promoted, continue to train people and do the smallest of jobs. The best business owners understand their customers by investing their time.

Trap #2: Confusing IG and FB likes with money

Look, no one’s arguing that Instagram and Facebook are great marketing tools. But they’re just that – tools, not a means to make money. Even if you have enough likes to make money off of IG and FB, then you’re not a career trainer. You’re an instagram model. 

For career trainers, judging your success by social media likes can be a huge trap. Instead, focus on turning those likes in to real-life clients. Get emails, interact with them via DMs or your story, and have a product you can sell. 

Trap #3: Not continuing to grow and learn

Graduation and getting a certification doesn’t mean you’ve learned everything. Congrats, but you’re just getting started.

The industry is constantly changing. Your market is constantly changing. Trust me, the people I trained ten years ago are different than the ones I train now. Physiology is important, but no one cares about the Krebs cycle. 

Don’t know what’s left to learn? Study business management, psychology, finance, the art of coaching… anything. Hell, dive into the history of welding if you want. Learning new things keeps you excited, challenges your brain, and helps you become a more creative and compassionate coach.

Trap #4: Unrealistic views of money in the first few years 

Remember, you want to be a career trainer, not just a part-time trainer. No one gets out of undergrad and becomes a “trainer to the stars”, pulling in millions a year. And if they did, they’d likely be SOL once their inadequacies were uncovered. 

This. Industry. Is. Hard. Full stop. 

You’re going to invest lots of time, effort, and probably your own money in to your business for a long time before you’re turning any real profit. You’ll likely be working 12+ hour days, with most hours early in the morning and late in the evening. You’ll probably need a second job to make ends meet. 

If you’re not prepared for that reality, you have an unrealistic view of how things work. However, if you love what you do and want to grind, this industry will reward you in the long-run. You’ll be able to work for yourself, if you want to. You can create your own hours. And yes, you will be making real money. But only if you prove your worth first. 

Trap # 5: Targeting the “wrong” market 

In that same vein, every new trainer wants to train athletes and people who look like them. 20-somethings who are already in relatively good shape have tons of options, and frankly don’t need you. Yes, your friends will want you to train them, but no, they won’t want to pay for it. 

Instead of falling into that trap, target the people who have the time and money to pay and will actually appreciate you. These people are typically Gen Pop over 40-50. Make yourself different by being better than the other young trainers who ignore them. Educate them as to how you can actually make a huge difference in their lives. 

And that being said, educate yourself on how to connect with them.

Trap #6: Sacrificing the true story for a quick buck

Sure, you might get someone in for one or two sessions through a flashy ad, but is that long-term?

Making a sale is about finding a problem you can solve for someone, and then solving it. Understand the story they’re telling themselves. It’s possible they aren’t fully aware of their problem – they just know they want to lose weight, and their knee hurts when they try to run.

Once you connect with them, answer their objection, and show them you’re invested in them. If you can get this right, money won’t be a factor, and they’ll stay long-term. If you can’t solve their problem, let them know. It takes real reflection and self-awareness, but you’ll actually help people. That leads us into our next trap.

Trap #7: Selling a product before it even really exists

The product is you! Take time to intern and intern some more. Get a mentor. Know when you don’t know enough, and don’t be a fraud. Honestly, telling someone “I don’t know, but I’ll find out for you or connect you to someone who does” will put you in a position of trust. People make buying decisions, especially with their health, based on trust. Even if you lose a client today, you’ll gain five down the road by earning trust and expanding your expertise in the meantime. 

After gaining that invaluable experience, study business, and build your product. This is your career, after all, not some side gig. Learn from the best about how to grow your self-made company. 

Trap #8: Following the crowd

Everyone is doing it, so I should too! 

…didn’t your mom already tackle this issue with the “if your friends jumped off a bridge…” question?

I know you think that’s where the money is. But it’s a trap. The money may be there, but you’re not going to get enough of it to make a career. Unless you originated something, studied it for decades, and are the top name on a topic, you won’t stand out from the crowd.

Instead, go the opposite direction. Do what no one else is doing. I guarantee you there’s a market somewhere that’s being ignored. Maybe it’s the over-50 crowd who want a safe, effective, team-oriented group training session where they get individual attention. It might be something different.

But when you find them, go all in. 

Final thoughts

I’ve been a trainer since 2001. I’ve seen excitement and trends come and go. And I promise you, they will. You do not want to be a one trick pony in this industry. Invest time in yourself, your career, and the right clientele, and you might just emerge out the other side.