Some time ago I read a newsletter that Alwyn Cosgrove sent out entitled “My fitness business turning point (and yours?)”. In the newsletter he writes about how he decided to invest in himself and learn one new thing a day – and by learning one new thing a day, he would learn 365 new things in a year. That is a tremendous amount of knowledge gained.

Reading this newsletter, led me to think about something that my Iron Body Studios’ co-owner, Eric Gahan, who is an ATC, RKC & CSCS always says when we are talking about attending a training, seminar or workshop or reading an article or watching a DVD. He always says that when we attend these trainings or read, that we are striving and working towards BEING better – that we WANT to BE better.

With this thought, I asked myself, how does working towards being better, and the desire to BE better translate to making a trainer a GREAT trainer?

As a trainer, how does one separate oneself from the average trainers and maintain the standard of being a GREAT trainer?

Here are 7 things that immediately came to my mind:

PASSION: Well, first off you have to have PASSION – to be great at anything in life you MUST have passion for it.

EDUCATION: Educate yourself – every chance you have you must read and attend trainings, workshops, seminars, etc. All of the knowledge that you need in order to be a great trainer, business-wise or practical, is out there. You just need to seek it out and learn it.

With educating yourself, don’t just get a certification just to get it so that you can have the initials after your name. Get a certification or go to a training because it is something that you are passionate about learning or that makes sense for you to learn for your specialization and mission. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and attend a training, seminar or workshop that is not specifically geared towards your role in the industry; BUT there are speakers and topics at that particular training that you are passionate about. For example, in June 2011 I attended the BSMPG (Boston Sports Medicine Performance Group) annual conference. This conference is typically geared towards Sports Medicine Practitioners like Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, & Massage Therapists. As a Personal Trainer, I was a minority attending this conference. HOWEVER, there were people who I specifically wanted to hear speak, e.g. Charlie Weingroff, Shirley Sahrmann, Tom Myers, and Mark Toomey (who is a fellow RKC Senior Instructor and Director of US Operations for Dragon Door) who spoke with John Dimuro on the topic of bridging the gap between the personal trainer and the medical professional. Even though this conference is not typically geared towards personal trainers, I went specifically to see certain speakers and came home with a wealth of knowledge—much more than I had expected to learn.

PRACTICE: Take the knowledge you learn and PRACTICE it. You can only fully understand the knowledge that you acquire if you apply it. Just because a person has a million initials after their name, “John Smith, MS, CSCS, CPT, PES, ABCDEFG!” does NOT mean that this person has practiced all of the knowledge that he/she has acquired and therefore is a GREAT trainer who knows everything. All that means is that this person is good at studying and acquiring degrees and certifications. There are trainers out there who have less initials after their names, have practiced more and perhaps focused on a specialization and as a result are GREAT trainers.

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”, Bruce Lee

BE BETTER: With this education strive to BE Better, not just to DO better, but to BE better. There is a difference. How I see to do better is that you make a mistake and then say, “I’ll do better next time…” NO, BE better and by being better I mean to maintain that next level of knowledge and achievement that you acquire through practice. Educate yourself, learn from your experiences and never be content to think that you know everything that there is to know. Take BETTER to the next level.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE DRASTIC CHANGES: Don’t be afraid to completely re-vamp how you train or how you do business based upon new information you have learned. For example, after obtaining my RKC Certification, I completely changed how I train my clients and myself – for the better.

It was one of the scariest things that I have ever done, because my first thought was that I would lose credibility with my clients. Then I thought, if my clients value me as a trainer, for everything that I offer them, then they will indeed appreciate that I take steps to go out and to learn new information and new techniques and then implement this new information and these new techniques in order to be a better trainer. Being a better trainer for myself, helps them, as clients, to improve and to continue to see positive results as well.

Exercise is a Science and it is constantly evolving. Your training methods and your business should be evolving along with new research published and lessons learned.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY I DON’T KNOW: Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”, “I was wrong”, or admit that you make mistakes. Never be content to think that you know everything that there is to know. There is no way that as one person, you can know everything. We are human, we can be wrong and we make mistakes. It’s OK to make mistakes and to not know, but it is NOT OK to NOT learn from the mistakes and to remain in the dark if you don’t know. It’s important to learn from mistakes made and to ask questions and learn, when you don’t know. There are people out there in the industry who have more experience, both education and practical, and who are leaders in the industry for a reason, they are there to help you to learn and to be better.

HAVE KNOWLEDGE TO BACK UP THE OPINIONS THAT YOU HOLD: If you have an opinion about something, either disagree or agree with a method, know why exactly you have this opinion and why it is against or in line with your beliefs. Be able to articulate why. “Because I said so” is not a good enough reason.

So, go out there, learn, have passion about what you are learning and don’t fall into the category of “Master of Collecting Certifications – John Smith, ABCDEFGHI!”, practice, strive to be better, have knowledge behind the opinion you declare or know when to gracefully keep it to yourself… and in my opinion, these 7 things are what help to make one a GREAT trainer.