What It Takes To Be A Better Trainer In 2015

by Annie Vo on January 7, 2015

Annie Vo Double Kettlebell Front Squat

Recently, I saw a greeting card that said, “Treat your body like it belongs to someone you care about”. What occasion was this card for? This statement couldn’t have come at a better time. For me, the holidays are a time of reflection of the year’s events, a time to debrief, reflect and begin settling plans for the next year. I began thinking of how I treat my body, and if my treatment was in accordance with the way I would treat the belonging of a loved one. Further, how do my clients treat their bodies and what role do I play in that in the gym and beyond? It is easy to fall into routines where the actions begin to lose purpose—the reasons you do what you do can begin to become a bit unclear.

Am I doing everything I can as a personal trainer, small business owner and member of the community? Are there things I can improve? What are those things? How about you, dear fitness professional colleague? Could you or your gym offer more services, programs, classes or events? How is it going? Is it easy to find you or your business? What do people think of your business? Are they having a good experience and achieving results?

Annie Vo Double Kettlebell Swing

How do you know the answers to these questions?

In short, you don’t always know, but you can begin to find out through thoughtful analysis. We often ask our clients to log their diets, workouts and activities that effect their mood or energy level (or anything else that affects their gym performance). Do you do that for your business?

Calm down! Nobody is accusing you of not trying! The question is about how you can improve. For those who immediately answered, “Yes” to the question above, I encourage you to use your superior skills and intellect to be creative and dig a bit deeper. There is always more to be learned, offered, shared and sought.

Can you take a client somewhere you haven’t been?

Take a long, hard look in the mirror. Have you made strides in improving emotionally, intellectually and spiritually…? Personal training is exactly what it sounds like—it’s personal. When a client selects you as a professional, they entrust you with their body. You must take that role seriously. Just think about it. Someone talked to you for a few minutes (ok, maybe an hour) or saw some of your pictures online and have now decided to pay you lots of money for your ideas—ideas that directly affect their body and wellbeing. First, you must be able to listen. It sounds easy but listening requires the ability to hear the words being said while interpreting them in the way that they’re intended to be understood. The information must be taken in without your personal judgments or biases. Once you have properly identified the goals and needs of your client, then you can begin the personal exchange of your services and expertise with their participation.

Most likely, what you ask your clients to do are things you also do yourself. We have all had the experience of attempting to teach something we did not fully understand—only to quickly realize we couldn’t fully explain why that exercise was valuable, or effectively troubleshoot it.

I get it, but instead of avoiding the exercises or workouts we’re not familiar with, I would ask you to do just the opposite. Learn more about those unfamiliar exercises and workouts, and become good at them. Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone to gain more experience and understanding to share with your clients.

Annie Vo Goblet Squat2014 has been good to me and my business. Precision Athlete has grown in clientele and notoriety far beyond what I could have imagined when we opened in 2011. I was also recently promoted to leadership in the first professional organization I had ever joined, the RKC. The RKC and kettlebell training solidified my career choice as a personal trainer back in 2011. I had been wavering between following the path that seemed like a natural fit at that time—becoming an attorney—versus moving more seriously into personal training. Kettlebell training in the RKC inspired a deep sense of pride in learning proper technique, understanding the mechanics of the body and providing the tools to help me excel as a fitness professional. The RKC methods and teaching styles are a mix of rigorous practice, attention to detail, proven science and a touch of class. The RKC also granted me access to the most experienced and educated trainers in the industry.

Thanks to the dedication of my clients over the years, I now have years of experience with hundreds of people. With the numerous seminars I have attended, conversations with trainers and business owners and compulsive reading, I have now become one of the RKC instructors I used to look up to. I must now give back—now more than ever, I have to refine my skills, seek more mentors and expose the gaps in my education. There is much more reading and many more conversations, seminars and training ahead…

Taking responsibility for your end of things is difficult professionally and personally. Norwegians have a verb that describes this feeling, gruegleder (pronounced “grew-glay-der”). It means to look forward to something while simultaneously dreading that same thing. This evaluation process is both rewarding and difficult because there will undoubtedly be areas where we all fall short.

So, do you treat your body like it belongs to someone you care about? Do you care about you? Do you care about caring about you? If you do, then it should be no problem to be generous and understanding with yourself about your shortcomings. It should be no problem to delight in the process of improving your skills and experience—or to take on new challenges. It will only serve to improve that thing you care about so much and support, RIGHT? If you can do that for yourself then you can extend that to your clients and your business.

Re-invest yourself in understanding why you do the things you do. Be aware of what motivates you. Be an active participant in your own life. Be credible both personally and professionally. Don’t wait until 2015 is over. Do it now.


Annie Vo, RKC Team Leader is co-owner of Precision Athlete, (http://precisionathlete.com) where she trains groups and individuals. She can be contacted via email: annie@precisionathlete.com, or the Precision Athlete Facebook page: facebook.com/precisionathlete.

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