As trainers, we’re not just drill sergeants. We’re also coaches, a motivation, a source of inspiration and a guide. This doesn’t mean we have to get all spiritual about our coaching abilities but it is worth taking a step back and assessing your own teaching abilities. After all, it’s not the trainer who can yell loudest or has the biggest biceps that has the most satisfied clients or gets the most results.
Becoming a better teacher will help you tremendously reaching your own professional goals, as well as your clients’ athletic goals.
- Be strict but fair. Don’t let your clients get away with consistently showing up late, forgetting their wallets or whining their way out of an exercise drill. Follow your own rules and make sure they do as well. Read your clients and know their capabilities. If they are having a rough day, cut them some slack. If they’re just feeling sorry for themselves, don’t give in.
- Set the example. As a coach, you don’t have to look like a fitness model. However, you do need to demonstrate the lifestyle you preach to your clients. Depending on your coaching style, this could mean showing determination, healthy eating, responsible recovering, sticking to a routine (as well as ALWAYS being on time) or all of the above.
- Be a professional. You can’t coach someone when you’re listening to your headphones or talking about your own day. Focus on the goal and how to be the best coach you can be.
- Find a mentor. Study their training style. See what you like or don’t like. You don’t have to copy them but use elements you think are useful. When you accumulate more knowledge, you can put the pieces together to make yourself a better trainer.
- Be respectful. This doesn’t mean you have to accept being treated poorly but give everyone the respect they deserve, from a professional towards a client. A coach / trainer / teacher who doesn’t give students respect will never be appreciated or given respect themselves. You have to give it to receive it.
- Be respectable. Be a teacher who deserves respect. This means you have to be competent, show that you care, be passionate about what you’re doing and overall attitude. This doesn’t mean you’ll earn it but make sure you’re a coach who is worthy of getting it.
- Figure out your clients. We’re not just repeating exercises or telling clients what’s already on paper. We have to read our clients, know what they’re looking for (it often is more than they care to tell you), know their limits, the exercises they love and hate etcetera. When you take the time and effort to analyze them, you’ll be able to coach them better.
- Be relatable. For most people, this means small talk and (sometimes fake) smiles. For myself, being an introvert and hating small talk, this means getting sweaty with my clients. I’ll never ask them to do something I’m not willing to do. I join in with my clients and push them and myself to work harder. It’s better to be a leader than a boss.
- Be prepared but creative. A good teacher is prepared and knows what they’re heading into. Sometimes, the pieces don’t fall into place. That is when you need to be creative. Figure out a different way to reach the same destination. In the moment, on the spot. A good teacher knows what they’re doing.
- Be consistent. Different clients will require different training strategies but be consistent in how you treat every client. Don’t treat people differently. This will eliminate conflicts and earn you respect.
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By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.