What Makes A Great Fitness Instructor?

It’s one of the most intriguing questions: what qualities should a great fitness instructor possess? More importantly, how do these qualities help them motivate, inspire and retain clients?

While there isn’t a short answer to these questions, we’ve earmarked a few attributes that separate the A-list fitness instructors from the rest.


Punctuality, preparation and professionalism

If you’re late for a class, this could put your clients off exercising before they’ve started. More accurately, it could put them off exercising with you. Needless to say, losing clients to other trainers because of poor timekeeping reflects very poorly on you.

Not keeping people waiting is tip number one, and tip number two is to be prepared. From music selection to choreography, every element of your class needs to be researched and planned to a tee. Otherwise, it looks like you don’t take client satisfaction seriously.

Lastly, professionalism is key. You need to look and act like a top fitness instructor if you want to be one. There are the basics like good personal hygiene and clean clothing, and how you interact with clients is crucial. Your sessions should be enjoyable, but they should not be compromised by too much story-telling or chit-chat. You need to occasionally keep a distance to get the best out of your class.


Education, education, education

As in most professions, the fitness instructors who go furthest are the ones who strive to continue learning. After all, your job is to encourage people to be the best versions of themselves. Therefore, why wouldn’t you apply this principle to your career?

You might have a Level 2 certificate or Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing, but this can only take you so far. Not gaining further qualifications limits who you can work with and the services you can provide.

For example, what if a client came to you with questions about nutrition and weight management, but you weren’t equipped with the knowledge to provide detailed and helpful advice on this subject? What if you didn’t have the sufficient qualifications to take on pre and postnatal clients, and lost potential female clients to another instructor?

Gaining specialist qualifications not only makes you a great fitness instructor, it positions you as the go-to expert on some key topics. Thankfully, there are many different courses which can take your career to new heights.


Great communication skills

When we say that the best fitness instructors are great communicators, this doesn’t mean incessantly barking out orders. A great fitness instructor is someone who builds a relationship of mutual understanding and trust through clear communication.

According to Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication, 55% of how we communicate is through body language, 38% is through tone of voice, and 7% is through the words used. Therefore, you should always consider how your body language and tone of voice communicate your verbal instructions.

Some examples of good body language include adopting an open posture, maintaining eye contact and using physical contact where appropriate. For instance, guiding them through an exercise, or giving out a motivational high-five! Which ties in nicely with our next top tip…


fitness instructor

The ability to motivate

You might be the greatest communicator in the world, but this doesn’t mean everyone will respond to your instructions with the same enthusiasm. Throughout your career, you will encounter people who are lacking in self-confidence and  take time to learn certain exercises. Or, they simply aren’t sold on the idea of exercise altogether.

There are several strategies you can adopt to make these people feel valued and reiterate that what they’re doing is worthwhile. Giving out praise (even for the smallest accomplishment), showing a genuine interest in the progress of your clients and hammering home the benefits of each exercise are all key parts of the learning process.

One way of not only motivating your clients is to buy them an unexpected present when they complete one of their goals. This will help them find that extra 1% when they’re in the middle of a workout!

The more motivational you are, both regarding verbal and non-verbal communication, the more positive your clients will feel within themselves and the more likely they are to keep coming back to your classes.


A sensitive and friendly approach

The most common adjectives you read in most fitness instructor job descriptions are ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’. The simple reason for this is that no two clients are the same. Some people are self-starters, others need a bit of a push. Some people learn exercises quickly; others take more time.

Most people who are performing exercises for the first time are likely to have a few questions along the way. On top of this, certain clients can be very sensitive and may feel uncomfortable in a new environment. As such, you need to come across as someone who is always willing to help and can provide the ‘arm around the shoulder’ treatment when needed.

This should apply before, during and after sessions. While you want to motivate your clients, you also need to realise their physical and mental limitations and tailor their workouts accordingly. Achieving the correct balance between pushing them and letting them learn at their own pace is therefore vital in shaping people’s perceptions of you.


An up-to-date knowledge of industry trends

As a fitness instructor, it’s essential to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends. Exercise is evolving all the time, so it pays to be on top of what’s going on in your industry.

Podcasts and webinars from leading influencers will provide you with useful information which you can take into your class. What about contacting other instructors to ask for their advice, or attending networking events?

You can also set up Google Alerts for any topics that are relevant to you. All you need is a Google Account, and you’re good to go. As an example, just type in ‘fitness trends’ and then you’ll receive notifications every time an article featuring these keywords appears online.


Avoiding unnecessary risks

The importance of this last tip cannot be overstated. Even if you meet the above criteria, it counts for nothing if you don’t have the right insurance. You are unlikely to be permitted to work on a gym floor without fitness instructor insurance, and with good reason.

Let’s say you were training a class and a client injured themselves, holding you responsible and claiming against you. If you didn’t have Public Liability, you wouldn’t be covered and could be forced to pay hefty legal costs. What’s more, your business and reputation could be affected in the long run.

That’s why, at Insure4Sport, we provide up to £10 of Public Liability for fitness instructors. This protects you if a claim is made against you for injury to another person or property damage. If you take out Public Liability with us, we’ll also provide £1m of Professional Indemnity free of charge, to protect you from claims made in relation to advice you’ve given.

Also, if your equipment is lost, stolen or damaged or you suffer an accident while training which means you can’t work for a long period of time, we’ll cover you for these instances as well.

Our fitness instructor insurance allows you to focus on what matters, which is providing your clients with the best possible service – safe in the knowledge that you’re covered against all manner of accidents. Get an instant online quote with us today and leave nothing to chance.

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