How to be a Successful Personal Trainer

Dec 14, 2020 | by AIF

Personal training can be an extremely rewarding career choice. PTs can motivate and inspire clients to not only achieve their fitness goals, but also change their mindsets to positively impact every area of their lives.

Former Australian Institute of Fitness Coach, Michael Lowe, shares the fundamental principles for delivering an outstanding personal training experience.

There’s no question that being a personal trainer can be truly amazing, but as every experienced PT knows, the first couple of years will determine your longevity in the industry. Trainers who work hard in their first 18-24 months lay the foundations for a long and successful career. And it really is A LOT of work – but it also has the potential to bring A LOT of reward.

One component of being a PT that many people fail to understand at the start of their career is that they are not only a trainer, but also a business owner that is responsible for building, managing and retaining their client base.

When I first entered the fitness industry as a fresh-faced gym instructor two decades ago, I was fortunate enough to receive some fantastic advice about what makes for a great personal training experience. The lessons I learnt are still part of my business plan today.

Here are my four fundamental principles for delivering a successful PT experience – and thereby engineering a long and successful personal training career.

#1. Adaptability

Your clients will likely come from a variety of backgrounds, be of different ages, abilities and gender, and have different training goals. Your job is to put the personal in personal training – clients are not paying for a cookie-cutter workout that they could find on Instagram, but for a session that is tailored to them and their goals. You need to be able to adapt your training from client to client so you can cater to each of their goals and training requirements.

#2. Consistency

It is hard for the fitness industry to be deemed credible if personal trainers are inconsistent with their knowledge and practical delivery. Consistency is not only important for our industry’s reputation but also to a personal trainer’s long term success. A great session one week followed by a half-hearted one the following will create uncertainty in a client. Consistency provides an element of reassurance and helps clients develop trust in your professionalism.

Consistency does not mean delivering the exact same session each time: it means consistently delivering a high quality session in which you follow a familiar format, exhibit the same standards of care and attention and provide clear exercise explanations and demonstrations.

#3. Knowledge

A PT with a solid knowledge base will always be in demand. You will have learnt a great deal of detailed information about physiology and exercise in your studies to become a qualified personal trainer, but the best trainers never stop revising this information, keeping up with new research findings and learning new skills.

You may have heard the term ‘cowboy trainers’ being used to refer to trainers who are not qualified or are giving poor advice that is either incorrect or unsuitable for their clients. These people tarnish the reputation of the fitness industry, and it’s in your best interests to distance yourself from them by continually enhancing your knowledge and professionalism through courses delivered by reputable fitness education providers such as Australian Fitness Network.

You must allocate time and a little money each year to invest in your continuing education, because it is also an investment in your career. If a client asks you a question, they expect you to be able to give them an educated and considered response that applies to them and their specific situation. For example, if a client were to ask what you think about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), rather than simply say ‘Yeah, it’s intense!’, you should be able to tell them how and why it’s effective, who it’s good for, and place it in context of their own health, training preferences and physical abilities.

#4. Replication

The most successful personal trainers know that delivery replication is essential to longevity within the industry. In addition to replication of quality session formats (see point 2 above), this refers to the systems you have in place for every element of your business operations, from marketing, branding and meet and greet procedures, to initial consultations, client pre-exercise screening, booking and payment collection.

Get your business systems in play from day one, and then refine them until everything works efficiently and effectively. No matter where your career takes you, from club to club, from studio to mobile training, you will be able to make a smoother transition and maintain your success by replicating your proven business systems.


To learn more about what it takes to safely and effectively train clients from all walks of life, click here to check out the AIF’s Master Trainer Program™ course which includes dual qualifications in Personal Training (Cert IV in Fitness) and Fitness Coach (Cert III in Fitness).


Michael is a former Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness NSW.



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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