What Is Personal Training?

Updated: Sep 30, 2018

We’re going to start nice and "simple", what is personal training? I think personal training can be split into three main aspects; support, educate, train. These work for both sides of the coin as well by the way, both the personal trainer and the client side. And these are qualities you should be providing as a PT, and as a client you should looking for in your PT. Now training is pretty self-explanatory, any personal trainer can manage that, so long as they’re not injuring someone. I’m going to focus on support and educate, the two aspects that I believe separate an average PT from a good or great PT.

We’ll start with support. Any trainer worth their salt knows how important it is to support a client through what is their individual journey. Really, this is a very intimate scenario, probably coming after anything relationship or medically related. As we know, most people who exercise have an emotional reason attached to it, whether it’s unhappiness with how they look, or how they’re performing, etc. So it’s a very sensitive decision to look for help. It takes a lot of courage for someone to admit that, either they can’t do it themselves, or they don’t have the knowledge. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But as a trainer you almost have a duty of care to nurture that decision. Understand that your words, as a professional they have sought out, can have an effect, both positive and negative. A lot of people are psychologically delicate, we all know people who fall off the wagon easily, people who feel intimidated by gyms, by people at the gym, by the equipment, by their lack of knowledge, even by personal trainers themselves, many of whom can be loud, boisterous, arrogant even. So you really need to make sure that, as a trainer you’re helping make that journey as easy as possible for your client. The more difficult they find it, the less likely they are to succeed. A client should be able to rely on their PT, both for information, and emotional support when they need it. And they will undoubtedly need it.

So you can support without educating, but you can’t educate without supporting, and educate applies to both yourself as a trainer, and to you educating your client. Really, as a PT, your main aim should be to make your client self-sufficient, to teach your client what you know so that they can apply it themselves in the future. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stop training with you, because we know there are any number of reasons why someone hires a personal trainer, and there’s always new information coming out. But you should be getting your clients to the stage where, if they choose, they should be able to carry on effectively without you. That means you have to educate yourself, you need the actual knowledge to pass on, and the other thing we’re often guilty of as trainers, is getting set in our ways. You find a way you think works, or one that you like, and you hammer it. You won’t hear a bad word said about it, or consider any other options. But the science in this industry is constantly moving on and constantly evolving, there are new studies every week, and if you’re not keeping at least one eye on them, how can you be sure you’re doing what’s best? It’s absolutely true that there isn’t a one size fits all training method, so surely you want as much knowledge as possible, and you can pick and choose what works when. You give that knowledge to your client, and you let them find what works for them. As an individual, you should directly challenge what you think you know, to make sure it’s “right”. Read as much as you can, and follow as many different individuals doing studies as you can. Listen to what people are saying, try to understand what they’re saying, challenge what they’re saying, and if you can’t find a good reason to challenge them, then that’s a good reason to believe them. ABL – always be learning.

Thanks for listening to me, if you even have, and I’ll be back with another entry next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer