Becoming a Personal Trainer For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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You wear many hats in your role as a personal trainer. You're a salesperson, scientist, friend, coach, motivator, teacher, employer, bookkeeper, and business owner, to name just a few. To be successful wearing any of these hats, you need to be equipped properly — and that means you need to have the right tools to use at the right time.

Your mindset

The equipment available to help you be a successful trainer is limitless: cellphones, computers, software programs, weight-training equipment, cardiovascular equipment. . . . The list goes on.

No matter what types of toys you have (or how expensive or cutting edge they are), it won't matter if you don't have the most important one: the right mindset.

Important factors for having the right mindset are:

  • Honesty: You need to be honest with yourself about what you realistically can and cannot do; this flows through to your clientele as well.
  • Determination: Not every day is easy; you won't always have a full book, and sometimes those slow days end up being weeks. Pushing ahead and staying on track when the going gets tough takes determination and focus.
  • Willingness: You need to be willing to change if your original course of action isn't producing the results that you want. You also need to be willing to keep an open mind when your client is complaining that she's not happy with your services. Willingness is more about what you should do as opposed to what you want to do — after all, sometimes you'll have to do things that you don't want to do.

Your certification

Certification is your badge of honor — it tells everyone who works with you, from employers to clients, that not only do you say you know what you're doing, but you can also prove it. Certification assures your client that you're a true fitness professional; you've undergone stringent studies and testing protocols to figure out what to do and what not to do as a personal training professional. It ensures your client that you know what they don't — which is how to help her reach her fitness goals, safely and efficiently.

Being certified also gives you the credibility you need for other professionals and clients to take you seriously. Certification helps you to build a solid rapport with the people you will be doing business with, such as:

  • Employers
  • Clients
  • Mentors
  • Media contacts
  • Doctors with whom you have a referral relationship

Your business card

Here are some tips for making a long-lasting impression with your business card:

  • In the case of a chance meeting, when someone asks you, "What is it that you do?" have a brief summary (called an elevator pitch) prepared that makes you memorable as you hand her your business card. For example, you can say, "I help people look great naked" or "I build muscles."
  • Make sure the information on your card is correct and up to date. If your area has just recently implemented ten-digit dialing, if your area code has changed, or if you've just gotten an e-mail address, make sure you invest in a new set of business cards to reflect your new contact information.

The impression you leave with a potential client is the one that will bring her back to you for business. Make sure that your business card reflects everything you want your potential client to remember about you — professionalism, integrity, quality, and trustworthiness.

Tape measure

The tape measure can be used for many different things. You can record your client's anthropometric measurements (body circumference) with it to show change and make sure she's on track to achieving her personal goals. You can also measure degrees of flexibility as well as how far your client can reach past her toes in the sit-and-reach flexibility test. Other uses for the tape measure are:

  • Measuring vertical jump height
  • Measuring plyometric (explosive) movement distances
  • Measuring length of stride
  • Measuring stance distances

Body-weight scale

Going hand in hand with recording baseline biometrics (body measurements), a scale is useful and important in determining gross bodyweight. After you've recorded your client's gross body weight, you can assess body-fat percentage, BMI, and one-rep-max percentages to determine how heavy your client needs to be to train for her workouts.

Heart-rate monitor

Having a heart-rate monitor for your client to use while you train her has multiple benefits:

  • It allows you to see where her heart rate is without stopping her exercise.
  • A heart-rate monitor is a lot more accurate than the palpation method.
  • Your client will get instant feedback from it — it is an invaluable tool when it comes to teaching clients about perceived rate of exertion and working intensity.
  • You can use it to teach your client stress management, breathing, and biofeedback techniques.

Jump rope

A jump rope is a light, inexpensive, very portable, and excellent tool for challenging your client's cardiovascular system. Anyone at any fitness level can use it — and as exercises go, your client will burn more calories per minute jumping rope than doing any other activity! Skipping rope is a challenging workout that burns about 360 calories per half-hour (by comparison, moderate running or jogging burns about 330 calories per half-hour).

Experts suggest rubber, leather, or beaded ropes (ropes with small plastic tubes on a cord). The grip should be foam-based to absorb sweat and give your client a firm grasp. The client should be able to stand on the rope and hold the handles slightly above waist height. Jump ropes generally come in 6- and 9-foot lengths, and many have detachable handles so you can trim the rope yourself.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Melyssa St. Michael is a renowned fitness expert who appears on national news channels and has been interviewed for major publications.

Linda Formichelli writes for Men’s Fitness, Muscle Media, and other magazines.

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