Fitness instructor demonstrating exercises with weights

Evaluating Yourself as a Personal Trainer

As a personal trainer, part of your job description is evaluating your clients’ progress. But have you ever stopped and evaluated your own progress? It’s easy to get wrapped up in whether or not our clients are meeting their goals that we can forget about our own goals, both personal and professional. It’s good to check in with yourself now and then and evaluate whether or not you’re on the path that’s right for you. Here are a few areas to consider.

Your Health and Fitness
When your job is to help others gain and maintain their own health and fitness, the last thing you may want is to spend any more time at the gym putting time into your own workout. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum and are obsessive with your health and fitness.

It’s important, however, to be a role model to your clients–and be real. If you’re having a difficult time finding time to take care of your own needs, this will help you empathize with clients who share this struggle, as well. Use the same strategies on yourself that you share with them. On the other hand, if you tend to spend hours at a time in the gym and are very strict with your diet, consider evaluating whether this is a realistic strategy for your clients and if it is negatively affecting other areas of your life. For instance, do you turn down invitations to spend time with family and friends, because you “need” to workout? Do you need to balance your workouts with other areas of your life?

Your Professional Philosophy
A female and her personal trainer complete kettle bell exercises.
What is your fitness philosophy? For instance, I am anti-dieting. I do not hand my clients an eating plan or tell them what they should and shouldn’t eat. But this is just my personal philosophy, everyone should have their own. I also do not feel there is one right way to workout. Instead, I begin a journey with my clients to figure out what works best for their bodies. This means that weight loss will be slow, but they’re making lasting changes–and in the process, discover many benefits beyond weight loss. I do not accept clients that want to hire me to crash diet and lose an unrealistic amount of weight in a short time.

As a result, most of my clients have been with me for a long time, because I’ve built up trust with them and my philosophy works for them. Know what your philosophy is and stick to it so that you feel good about the work you’re doing–even if it feels against the grain of what’s the norm in our industry.

Your Continuing Education
Are you staying on top of the latest studies? Do you feel stuck–like you’re using the same exercises and really could use a refresher? There are so many options nowadays for continuing education. It’s important to stay on top of important issues–and give your exercise toolbox an update. Take courses, go to conferences, visit other fitness classes in your area to pick up some great ideas, or even hire a personal trainer with more experience for yourself.

Your Policies and Procedures
When I first started training, I didn’t have any real policies or procedures in place. I eventually learned, however, that I needed some basic ones or some people will take advantage. Now, payment is expected on or before the first session of a new package. If a client needs to cancel a session, there should be a 24-hour notice or they risk being charged. Obviously there are exceptions for illness and emergencies. Print your policies and procedures up and give your clients a copy. Also have them sign a copy for you to keep in your records so that it is clear that they understand the agreement.

Your Rates
Metal dumbbell on money
Are your rates in line with your area, your credentials, your experience? When was the last time you raised your rates? Are your rates so low that it’s easy for people to avoid making a real commitment to training with you, because they don’t feel it’s really an investment? Are they so high that you’re not getting enough clientele? Should you offer more training options, such as couples or group training? Do a comparison to other pros in your area and see how your rates compare. Raising rates is all a part of doing business, as scary as it can be at times! And nothing is written in stone. You can always adjust down or offer specials and discounts.

Your Vision
What is your vision for your life and business? Is your current situation anywhere close to it? One of the problems in this industry is that many full-time trainers have to work crazy hours just to make ends meet. This can result in exhaustion and burnout and a lower quality of life-exactly the opposite of what you’re promoting! Take some time to write out your vision and desires. Is the path you’re currently on headed there? If not, what adjustments can you make? Go through all the areas we’ve already mentioned and evaluate each one. Tweak the areas that need some TLC and remember–you cannot effectively help others take care of themselves if you’re not taking care of yourself!