In this previous post about being succesful as a personal trainer, I showed that most trainers probably don’t need to know more about training. At least not as a first priority. To become a better personal trainer, you must build the full skill set it requires and not just one specific skill.
See nobody really cares about how you put together their program. Nobody really cares why this week is lighter but has more volume. Nobody really cares why you’ve switched front squats with hack squats. Nobody but you. If you’re going on about this, you’re demonstrating your knowledge. Teaching is not about demonstrating knowledge – teaching is about what the student needs.
The researcher Lee Ross once did a study where he presented a peace treaty made by the Palestinians and Israelis to the two groups. He told the people he studied that the Israeli suggestion was made by the Palestinians and vice versa. Not surprisingly, they all preferred the suggestion they thought came from their own side.
What this study shows is that relations trump facts and arguments. Tons of similar studies have shown the same. We believe that we’re rational beings, but we’re actually not.
This (combined with a couple of other things) explains why “bad” personal trainers can be hugely successful and why very competent trainers sometimes struggle to make ends meet. Simply put – it’s more important to be nice to people and build a good relation than it is to provide them with competent coaching.
You only see your clients for a couple of hours a week tops, make sure you’re not polishing your own ego, but actively building relations.
Final note: you can still be a competent trainer but put more focus into building relations – it’s not an either/or.