5 Things a Great Personal Trainer Should NEVER Do

Dec 14, 2020 | by AIF

In every field, there are different ways of doing things that, essentially, yield the same result. As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. This is true of personal training, in that there are multiple different exercises, pieces of apparatus and training modalities that can all be used to help clients reach their health and fitness objectives.

However, in order to avoid causing injury, delivering a bad training experience and, subsequently, losing clients, there are some behaviours a personal trainer should never exhibit. AIF team member Christopher Meggyesy lays down the five things a great PT should never do.

1. Lose focus

A great personal trainer’s focus on their client doesn’t waiver. There are some PTs out there that will remind you of Dory from Finding Nemo – very easily distracted. Always remember that your clients are paying for your time. From the moment you greet your 10:30am client to the moment they leave, it is 100% about them and their training.

Whether it’s fixing technique, handing their client a water bottle, or just being the motivation they need, it’s all about delivering an experience that will help them achieve results. Whoever else just walked into the gym can wait. If you’re a personal trainer and you are constantly getting waylaid by other things, checking your phone (see below) or chatting with other people during a client’s session, you may find your clients parting ways with you to find a trainer that will give them undivided attention.

2. Fail to program a session

The great trainer will have every moment of their client’s training session accounted for prior to beginning the workout. It’s pretty obvious that when a PT is umming and ahhing about what’s next for the client, they’re winging it. You should know what will be happening at each minute, and how to program the best possible workout specific to your client’s goals within the time they have booked with you. If a PT seems to be lost, chances are they aren’t really sure of how to help their client reach their goals. Remember, those who fail to plan, plan to fail.

3. Train every client the same way

Every client is different. They each have their own health concerns, movement deficiencies and training preferences. So why are there so many cookie cutter programs out there? Each program should be tailored to the client’s needs – that is, after all, why they are paying you to personal train them.

In every client’s first personal training session, you should ask:

  • what their needs and wants are
  • what their goals are
  • what they hope to achieve
  • about the client’s past history with exercise

Everyone has different goals, but they also have different capabilities, so everyone’s session should look and feel different.

4. Look at their phone!

Even having your phone in your hand while you’re taking a session, regardless of the intention, looks like a distraction. You may very well be timing your client with your stopwatch app, but the outside world – and any future clients that may see your session – can’t tell the difference between timing a client, and swiping right on Tinder. Clients are paying for the time and attention of a trainer for a reason. Great PT’s will ditch their phone for the whole session and focus their attention solely on their client.

5. Fail to ‘walk the talk’

As a personal trainer, you are your own brand. Prospective clients start forming opinions about you the second they see you. In that first second, how are you marketing yourself? That first second might come when you turn up for your 5:30am client on a Monday morning, and a brand new member to the gym sees you as you walk in the door. Do you look (and smell) like you just rolled out of bed, or do you look clean, neat and tidy and greet them with a smile?

Feeling and looking fit and healthy will positively influence your clients. A client will feel more motivated to get up early and complete a great workout if their PT looks like they’ve already done the same and is feeling (and looking) fantastic.

If you’re a PT and you find yourself exhibiting any of these five behaviours, take a look at how you can address them in order to help your clients reach their full potential. If you’re a client and are noticing some of these ‘red flags’ with your own trainer, it may be time to take a look at other PTs who will give you the attention you need in order to succeed.



At the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), we are no stranger to the competitive and evolving nature of the fitness industry. That’s why we remain the #1 fitness educator since 1979. We continuously raise the bar by providing the best education and resources through dynamic and hybrid training methods that mould to your lifestyle. We are strong believers in evidence over fads, so you can be assured your training with AIF will solidify your career for the long-term.

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