The fitness business industry is intensely competitive. What makes your gym stand out from the rest? One word: 


After all, any fitness business can have the latest equipment and appealing programming, but the key to engaging your members ultimately relies on how well your staff relates to your clients. While this may be less quantifiable than the square footage of your facility or a particular number of classes, it doesn’t mean it happens by luck or chance. Rather, hiring the right people is strategic for fitness center member retention.

Professionalism is Paramount

Just because personal trainers don’t wear suits to work doesn’t mean they’re not professionals. In fact, the informal setting of a health center can actually mandate that personal trainers hold themselves to higher levels of professional accountability. 

Which begs the question: What makes for a professional personal trainer? 

It’s not about a title or certifications. And it’s not about understanding the business either, although that helps. Rather, it’s about how you behave while performing your responsibilities. To that end, the National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) has identified 15 “top professional traits” fitness center managers should look for when hiring personal trainers, including the following: 

  • Punctuality and reliability
  • Supportive of co-workers
  • A growth mindset
  • Prioritize advancement of knowledge and teaching
  • Organizational skills
  • Enthusiastic and courteous demeanor
  • Appropriate attire
  • Code of ethics
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Teamwork mentality
  • Interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Maintain scope of practice
  • Hold yourself and others accountable
  • No gossip policy
  • Confidentiality

Concludes NFPT, “As a general best practice (and method of building rapport), treat everyone you come in contact with throughout each day as a customer – and customers includes your colleagues. Every client or potential client is a person; every co-worker is a person.”

Beyond Knowledge

Certainly, knowledge of the industry and of the human body are essential to succeeding as a personal trainer. But engaging members involves much more. 

In an article penned for NFPT, personal trainer Cathleen Kronemer shared what she deemed to be the “most impactful piece of advice” she’d ever received from another personal trainer. Those words? 

“Clients don’t always care how much you know, as long as they know how much you care.”

When you consider the perspective of the clients, it makes perfect sense. After all, people join fitness centers and hire personal trainers for many different reasons. A personal trainer willing to go the extra mile to connect with clients in a professional way by understanding those reasons is uniquely positioned to make a real difference … not to mention a positive impression.

Following the Client’s Lead

While talking about how personal trainers make clients feel is an intangible, there are specific things trainers can do to boost their professionalism while simultaneously enhancing their interactions with clients.

Fitness business

For starters, maintaining boundaries and personal space is essential personal trainer etiquette. This can be challenging in a business where safety relies upon proper form. When touching clients in order to make corrections, the comfort of the client is paramount. One way to maintain boundaries is to ask permission before touching a client, as well as to explain what you are doing and why. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that different clients have different preferences regarding how they interact with personal trainers. While some may be chatty and personal, others may be prefer to exercise in silence. The best way to know the difference? Follow the client’s lead. 

If a member initiates conversation, than that’s generally a sign that he’s interested in a training experience with a social component. (But always remember — no matter how chummy you may get — that the relationship is trainer-client, not friend-friend.)

And, of course, the same basics apply to personal training as they do to common decency. Which brings us back to characteristics like punctuality, flexibility and attention to detail. 

At the end of the day, your personal trainers are the primary ambassadors of your fitness center, and while a good resume and favorable references help, they’re only part of the big picture. Also essential? Hiring personal trainers and staff members who will help you grow your fitness business by compellingly representing your brand. Equipping personal trainers with the latest fitness training technology, meanwhile, can further enhance their potential as personal trainers. Request a demo to learn more about the Accurofit System today.