You know how they say, "surround yourself with good people?" Luckily enough, I had to opportunity to do just that at PerformancePro.
Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about working at PerformancePro. It was a great, evolving experience working there for almost two years. Beginning my time as an intern and earning my stripes to become a full-time coach gave me the perspective to grow as a personal trainer and build out my skill set.
Here are a few lessons I learned along the way.
1) People are always watching.
So, be at the top of your game 24/7.
On the client side of things, it's an open plan gym, so everyone can see everyone. Therefore, every single moment you spent with a client had to be 100% 'in the moment'. Other members of the gym could see me at all times, so I was on top of form, cues, motivation and banter. It's important to let the others see how much you care about my client and their training.
On the professional side, other trainers and staff are always watching out of the corner of their eye. It's obvious if a trainer doesn't want to be there, so don't be that person. Every exercise must be well thought-out, specific to the client and performed with impeccable form. Even on social media these days, people notice your posts and will form opinions about you depending on the image you portray, so make it one you're proud of.
People are always watching. Don't let your attention slip for even a second.
2) Show up every day.
The right attitude goes way further than the right skill set. Working as a personal trainer, as well as working as a member of a team, means people rely on you.
Had a bad day? Put it aside. When you're with a client they expect to be motivated and enjoy their time with you, not hear you moan and complain. That doesn't help.
Also, being self-employed means that my workplace performance directly correlates to my income. If I don't show up (physically and mentally) I don't get paid. That's some pretty good motivation.
3) Clients come first.
In the world of personal training, no-one cares how much you can bench or how shredded you are. They only care that I can help them reach their goals. If they don't believe that, then they will not be training with me for very long.
The client is the one who is paying you. Never forget that. They are paying you for more than your time, they are paying for the results you can give them, your knowledge and experience, as well as your personality and words of wisdom. So do everything you can to make them happy.
It means working at unsociable hours and it means doing research and planning out of your paid hours. But, that's what it takes.
4) Know your profession.
Personal training can be as deep as you want to take it. It can be as simple as knowing some exercises for each body part and motivating someone through a workout. But going into a little more detail will give people better results.
Personal training requires deep knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics and physiology. The different responses between 5 and 15 reps. The difference between front and back squats. The importance of ankle dorsiflexion all the way up to scapular protraction.
It requires deep knowledge of interpersonal skills. You will be spending a lot of your time with people so learn how to actually talk to someone, crack a joke and have a conversation. Learn a bit of behaviour change and psychology, enough to make a change to someone's life.
It requires deep knowledge of nutrition. This is a wormhole of complexity unto itself as nutrition is a massive subject, and media sensationalism is against you.
Then there's the whole business and marketing side too, but that's a whole different story.
In the end, these skills build the foundation of personal training. They all combine together for one purpose... to get a client better results.
5) People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
In contradiction to me just talking about knowledge being incredibly important, it can also nothing. You can know exactly what someone needs to do to reach their goal, but if they don't believe you care they will never follow your advice.
Prove to a person that you DO care about them. Learn about their family and career, ask questions unrelated to the gym, go out of your way to help them, send them emails with links to related articles which you talked about during your session.
Earn their buy-in to your training. Better results will come from this than being able to reference every textbook ever written.
6) Results come in many different forms.
They are more than just a number on the scale or what you look like in the mirror.
The clients at PerformancePro were after a variety of different goals which are different to a normal gym. Everyone wants to look better, that's a given, but our particular clients look for something more. Many came to us for injury rehabilitation, so looking better was an afterthought to being able to function without pain. Some came as athletes with performance goals in mind, like the 2020 Olympics. Others came from high-stress jobs looking for an outlet to counteract the busy office lifestyle. Some just want to feel better and be able to play with their kids without being out of breath.
This variety expanded my views of personal training and what we can actually offer people. Along the full spectrum of injured to high performance, from unwell and uninformed to fit, healthy and sustainable. To provide a full perspective shift to living a healthier lifestyle. It's more than just looking better.
7) Teamwork makes the dream work.
With physiotherapists on site, we had the opportunity to take someone from chronically in pain through the rehabilitation process and into building the foundation of strength & conditioning so it wouldn't happen again. With great communication through the team, it was always a smooth experience for clients (and a rewarding experience for myself).
Sometimes being self-employed, you can feel as though it's you vs the world. Luckily, I was never in it alone. Having trouble with something? Chances are one of the physios or trainers could help me out. Going on holiday? The team jumped at the chance to help cover my clients.
Having a strong team to back you up makes all the difference to your service.
8) I don't know everything, and that's OK.
Nobody knows everything and nobody expects you to know everything. It's more about the belief that you know enough to help someone.
Confidence comes from this acceptance that you don't have to know it all. Client ask you something you don't know? Just say "I don't know the answer, but I'll do my research and find out for you." They will respect that way more than a half made-up attempt to skirt around the question.
9) Personal training is the most rewarding career in the world.
There are not many careers out there which provide the opportunity to change a person's life. When I get to chance to help multiple people at a time... all the early mornings and late nights become worth it.
Me on a Saturday
Last week I moved on from PerformancePro, heading back to Sydney to start the next adventure. It's been a blast and I wouldn't trade the time spent there for anything.
And for anyone lucky to be living or working near Oxford Circus in London, go and check out PerformancePro. Say that I sent you :)