Look at any fitness job advertisement and I guarantee “good people skills” will be listed as a job requirement. When I sat down to write this article, I really had to ponder what are my best people skills. Then I realized that I didn’t know the exact definition of people skills, just that I always say I have good ones during job interviews. People skills roughly translates to the ability to effectively communicate with people in a friendly way by employing one's psychological and social skills. In my opinion, there are so many more skills needed to be an effective fitness pro, besides being friendly. I have highlighted a few people skills needed for an effective and successful fitness career.
Relating to Clients
One of the most important aspects of good people skills is the ability to relate to your clients. If you can’t relate to your client then they may not trust that you can help them. I don’t claim to be a mind reader, but I know when a client thinks “what do you know... about being fat...about having diabetes...or about getting out of breath after two minutes of exercise.”
I try to show my client’s that I can relate to them by sharing personal experiences, other client stories and by explaining how my professional qualifications relate to their training. Being flexible with clients is another way you can show how you relate to them. Flexibility in training style, workout routines and motivational tactics show your client they you can relate to them and earn their trust.
Strong Communication Skills
Communication skills are essential for successful training, instructing, consulting and communicating in a language your client understands is so important. You should be able to relay information in a way that they will see the value of your skills. Unless your client has a PhD, forget all the complex, mumbo-jumbo of how the muscle cell works or how the body uses nutrients for fuel.
I always try to explain why I have my clients do a specific exercise, training plan, or follow a specific nutrition guide. My number one goal is to teach my clients how to live a healthy lifestyle not just make a buck at the end of the day. I always say there really is a method to my madness.
Another thing I find important to communicate to my clients is that not all failures are really failures. I prefer to see a failure as an opportunity for improvement or a learning opportunity.
Confidence is KEY
Most clients seek out fitness pros because they aren’t confident with their abilities, their bodies, or their self-esteem. Is it fair to say that clients work with the pros in hopes of obtaining some of their attributes? Confidence, in my opinion, is the most important skill we as fitness pros need to have. I have seen clients flock to the most confident trainer in the gym even if they weren’t the best trainer on staff. That’s what our clients want after all, to be the best most confident self they can be.
Active Listening Skills
Just because you HEAR what someone is saying does not necessarily mean you are listening. I know my mother said this to me 1,000 times and she couldn’t have been more right. I try to listen not just with my ears but also with my eyes. I always listen to my client’s body language to know when enough is enough. Often times I will know when a client isn’t pushing themselves by their body language even if they swear they can’t do another rep.
Every client will give you a “tell” when it's too much or too little. I love figuring this out for each of my client often times much to their chagrin. Actively listening to each client’s needs and body language will help you become a more effective trainer and allow your clients to trust you.