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What Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer?

Dear Dr. Bell, I’m looking to change careers and considering becoming a Personal Trainer. What Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer? And what makes the IFPA different from other organizations out there? - V/r Jonathon

There are many answers to this question. When you analyze the factors required to become a successful personal trainer, you find many knowledge, skills and abilities. Knowledge such as anatomy, physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, biomechanics, biochemistry, sports nutrition, sports psychology, sports medicine, sports conditioning and more. You will find many required skills like effective communication, teaching and motivational skills. You will also need many abilities like being able to identify the personality type of your client and perspective clients, and be able to change what you say and how you say it to effectively communicate, motivate and teach your clients in the most effective possible way.

What has been missing until the IFPA began is a Personal Training System that puts all of these factors together in an easy to learn, easy to understand and easy to execute program that even the newest personal trainer can use to become highly effective on their first day of their new job. The IFPA System is built around two primary tenets: safety and effectiveness. Your personal training sessions must always be safe and they must always be effective! Most clients will quit immediately if you hurt them and most clients will give you about 2-4 weeks to see some improvements or they too will quit. Fortunately, the IFPA Personal Training System accomplishes both goals with an efficiency that is unmatched in the fitness industry.

The IFPA Personal Fitness Training System starts with a few very simple principles:

Principle One: Do No Harm!

Principle Two: Your job as an IFPA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer is to be a “Problem Solver” and solve any and all fitness related problems that concern your clients.

Principle Three: Your job as an IFPA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer is to do the very best job you possibly can, for everyone you can.

Principle Four: Your job as an IFPA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer is to meet your clients’ wants and goals as quickly as safety will allow.

Keeping these principles in mind, the IFPA Personal Fitness Trainer System was developed to meet the wants and goals of the client. This is beyond logic and deductive reasoning it is a practical imperative. You can argue with your client for hours (always a great idea for recruiting and retaining clients…not!) about their physiological need for Core Training, Functional Training or Postural Correction, but if your clients goal is to lose 40 pounds before their next class-reunion and that is the only reason they are talking to you, you would be well advise to listen to them and help them achieve that goal. This will not only help you keep this client, it will earn you their loyalty and many referrals. Making your clients’ wishes come true is your fastest way to success.

Likewise, following the prescribed tenets of a rigid and structured system, focused on all clients as if they were round pegs to be put in round holes and refusing to be flexible when the client is obviously a “square peg” is a recipe for disaster.

One thing that I quickly learned as an Air Force Fighter Pilot was: “Flexibility is the key to all Tactical Air Power!” It was true when I was a Fighter Pilot. It was true when I was a Personal Trainer. And it is the truth behind the IFPA Personal Fitness Training System. Your job is to use the flexibility of the IFPA System, to meet your clients’ wants as quickly as safety allows. After their wants are met, you can still use the IFPA Personal Fitness Trainer System to re-address their needs.

Unfortunately, many other Personal Fitness Training Systems are based on addressing needs. While that sounds perfectly logical on paper and in an academic setting, the reality of what you deal with on a day-today basis as a Practitioner is wants! People rarely buy what they need. People buy what they want. You will find far greater success as a Personal Trainer if you focus on the wants and that is the true beauty of the IFPA System, the flexibility to achieve those wants initially and the flexibility to go back and readdress their needs once your rapport and credibility has been firmly established.

You can argue, you must correct that Postural Problem before you begin serious training to prevent potential injuries and if you have a powerful personality that can bend people to your will, it might work on a few people. But if we adhere to Principle Three, and want to help all people achieve their goals, the path of least resistance is to allow them the freedom to pursue their goals with your assistance. This allows them to see you as a trustworthy professional and opens the door to a dialogue with them to address their needs when the time is right.

Using this IFPA Personal Fitness Trainer System can earn you clients for life and more referrals than you can handle. Following one of the rigid systems with the zealotry of a Jihadist will lead to a very short career in fitness.

Another key advantage of the IFPA System is the knowledge required for the Practitioner not the academician.  Physiology is a complex science. You will limit your study only to the knowledge of specific areas of Exercise Physiology and Principles pertinent to the Personal Training Practitioner. You will not need to know every scientist and their research that lead to the development of this knowledge or these principles. You will spend your time transforming the essential knowledge into Skills and Abilities.

Likewise, as a Practitioner you will learn the exercise science principles only in regards to keeping your clients safe and your exercise management effective.