Here at PT Pioneer, I pride myself on offering some of the best information, advice, and guidance you can get as a personal trainer. My 10 years in the game and extensive background allow me to give you a big-picture idea of what you’re getting into when it comes to being a PT.
No matter how good and valuable what I give to you is, it’s just one man’s outlook. For you to understand what’s going on, I decided to conduct a nationwide survey of 600 personal trainers to obtain a collective opinion on various personal training and fitness topics.
So I’m not just offering a second, third, or even fourth opinion. No, I’m giving you a 600th opinion!
I also highly recommend that you take the quiz and find out which personal trainer certification is best for your career goals.
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We developed this critical quiz to help you find the best certification for you and your goals.
Based on the “Wisdom of the Crowd” theory, the collective opinion of a large sample of people is far more likely to get the best or most accurate answer. So the responses provided by 600 professional personal trainers should help us arrive at the best answers for a particular personal training or fitness advice question.
There are many takeaways provided within the results presented below that are valuable not only to personal trainers but to anyone interested in living a healthy and active lifestyle.
Be sure to check out my other study on what separates the most successful personal trainers from the rest, and if that doesn’t scratch your itch, leave a question in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to consider it for the next survey.
PTPioneer commissioned Pollfish to survey 600 personal trainers throughout the United States for their opinions and experiences about various personal trainer and fitness-related topics.
PTPioneer designed and paid for the survey and welcomes the re-use of this data under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, as long as the original source is cited with attribution to “PTPioneer.com.”
Without further ado, let’s delve into the minds of 600 personal trainers and hear what they have to say.
The most common reason clients fall off the training wagon, and I can attest based on experience, is because of time.
Sometimes this is a valid reason, and life does tend to get in the way. Other times it’s just a cop-out due to a lack of motivation or an overbearing hesitation. In other cases, your client might have the time but cannot manage/prioritize it.
Whatever the case, expect this as the leading cause of missed appointments or drop-offs.
“Exercising is too hard” also has a deterring quality to it. Not only does overtraining make the whole exercise thing seem unnecessarily daunting, but it’s also a potential health risk that could keep your client’s away even if they would love to jump into the next session. That can easily lead to the third point, where your client feels unwell (this is also a common fake excuse).
The fourth most common reason for client drop-off is the I’m-not-good-at-this reason. It would be best if you remembered that fitness, for many people, is about looking good, and sometimes that also translates as looking good at it.
The last most common reason is your clients are dealing with a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In that case, you can implement some active rest to keep them going. Also, try to make sure they aren’t actually injured!
Hopefully, being aware of these excuses can help you preemptively address these concerns with your clients to avoid these instances of absence.
This will benefit you as a trainer and greatly benefit your client, who needs to overcome these mental/logistical/physical hurdles to achieve their fitness goals.
The 4 Most Popular Ways To Workout
One on one sessions is your bread and butter as a PT. After all, you are a PERSONAL trainer. Suffice it to say; this is the preferred method of engagement for fitness clients who want that extra support. It’s an intimate and focused way to get effective results without the scrutiny of others.
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Group training comes up second. For many, working out is just a simple matter of being given basic instructions and going with them, an easy enough thing to achieve in a group class setting.
Fitness is very commonly used as a platform for social engagement. Whether that’s for expanding one’s friendship circle, dating options, or professional networks, the group class is a watering hole for social interaction.
Third, on the list, you have your fit couples. Bless these guys because doing grueling yet rewarding activities like training hard together is one of the best ways to improve the quality of a romantic relationship! Take care of these clients well.
Online coaching is the fourth but also the fastest-growing method of engagement by fitness clients and consumers. Be ready with a good online system to take advantage of this market segment. Per our study on the most successful personal trainers, the highest-earning trainers have an online service component!
The 5 Golden Fitness Goals
Not coming as any surprise, the most common fitness goal is weight loss. The average person isn’t too concerned with achieving max performance; their most immediate concern is sitting right in front of them in the form of a bulging belly.
I hope you have nutrition in your bag of tricks for this one because that’s where you are really going to need to push to get real results.
Some people don’t care as much about looks as they do about being healthy. They may be aware that their current state is not doing their quality of life any favors, or it could be that they want to turn things up a notch and experience a new level of wellness. Expect many clients in it for mental health reasons too. Exercise is a great way to uplift one’s spirit and self-image.
Pursuing health might also mean injury rehab or correcting functional deviations and imbalances. Get clued up on corrective exercises for this one.
Losing weight is a step towards aesthetic actualization, my fancy way of saying “looking sexy”. Once the fat has rolled off, clients typically want to enhance their muscle tone. This is where body sculpting and hypertrophy training knowledge comes in handy. Nutrition will also play a pivotal role.
Many people go through certain events or phases in their life which place a specific demand on them. That demand may be related to body composition. A physique athlete is prepping for the stage, a young lady is getting ready to walk down the aisle, and a fighter is cutting to make weight for his next brawl. All these event-specific weight loss goals form a huge component of the most common goals you will encounter as a trainer.
Lastly, we have those amongst us who want to take it all to the next level. These clients are probably relatively fit in most cases and are just looking for a boost in their human superpowers. Pro and amateur athletes make up a large segment of this group. It isn’t uncommon for strength to be the goal of those seeking corrective exercise as rehab post-injury or to fix imbalances.
The Weight Loss Plateau Problem
At some point, most people hit a plateau in their training. When you start to exercise, it’s often easy to make leaps and bounds in your adaptation toward training stimuli. That’s because everything is so new, and your body is immediately triggered into action.
With time, your clients will find results harder and harder to come by. That’s because as the intensity of stimuli decreases, so too makes the response your body experiences.
We asked these 600 trainers why their clients hit a weight loss plateau to obtain the most common culprits so they can be properly addressed.
Changing your client’s plan can counter some causes of plateauing, such as settling the metabolic set point, lack of dedication, and nutrition. Others, such as those related to age and genetics, are unavoidable realities but can be worked around with a mindful approach.
Weight Loss Plateau Triumph
We then asked the trainers the most effective methods they employ to help their clients overcome their plateau to come to a definitive conclusion on what works best.
Regarding plateaus, when it comes to weight loss, your most common way of overcoming them is by mixing things up.
At the end of the day, it’s all about adaptation, and if you give your clients the same stimuli repeatedly, stagnation will occur. Switch things up by challenging different muscle groups.
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The second most popular way trainers get their peeps over a weight-loss slump is by upping the ante. This is a well-understood protocol for personal training. Progression occurs with an increase in volume and intensity.
The third thing is introducing strength training. Weight loss happens as a result of having a negative energy balance. To achieve that from a training perspective, you need to jolt the metabolism by stressing it with a healthy dose of resistance training.
Last in the weight loss bag of tricks is nutrition tracking. Have your clients keep a food journal so that you constantly know where they are with their food habits, allowing you to jump in and take control when necessary.
And The Nutrition Award Goes To…
Nutrition is the most important aspect of any health and fitness program. It’s more about what you put in than how you work out.
So we asked the 600 personal trainers for the diets that they most support to determine which are the best / most effective diets per the collective opinion of fitness professionals.
With clients all over the world, the keto diet is taking over. This nutritional method has the highest value when it comes to burning body fat, and burning fat is, after all, the most popular fitness goal. 😉
The vegan diet is pretty popular too. We all know the ethical bonuses that come with going green, but there are some major health benefits, too, and trainers are learning to exploit these for healthy and significant client results.
Low-carb, high-fat diets such as Atkins and Banting come up third. They follow a similar metabolic pathway as keto, although not as absolute (ketosis completely changes how your body handles incoming energy). I’ll call these baby keto.
With that said, there comes the vegetarian diet, and in the name of consistency, I’ll call this baby vegan.
Last is the weight watchers diet. It’s pretty effective when done right; the trick is doing it right!
There’s An App For That
We wanted to know what types of tools personal trainers recommend to see if anything is unanimously worth using or recommending to help your clients reach their fitness goals.
To approach this, we first asked what general categories of tools personal trainers recommend.
In this so-called digital age, there is now an app for everything. Your clients can now access electronic interfaces that enhance their fitness journey and outcomes.
Apps that help track fitness and nutrition goals, such as Under Armour’s “My Fitness Pal,” are trainers’ most recommended forms of training software.
Video workout programs offer quick and reliable references to clients, friends, and family and come in second place.
We then asked, within the most recommended categories, which specific App or video program you recommend. Below are the most highly recommended among the 600 personal trainers that we surveyed.
The Most Happening Apps
Of the numerous mobile apps out there, only a few stuck out with trainers well enough to recommend them to their families.
Here are 9 of the best!
Most Popular Workout Routines
Before the morning news, video programs were first introduced to our lives through aerobics sessions. Today we have so many great workout program videos that have evolved into full-on instructable classes and skills you can gain qualifications in teaching.
These are the top 3 from our sample of trainers.
The Reward of Fitness
We then asked personal trainers for their personal opinion on the top benefits of regular exercise to get the perspective of the professionals who live, eat, and breathe fitness.
As the training rolls on, your clients will begin to experience what it means to achieve health and fitness truly.
In the beginning, most of your client’s goals are outcome orientated. Losing weight, looking good, and getting strong.
But health and fitness are really about just that, health and fitness. And the true benefits of a good fitness program speak volumes of this sentiment based on the experience of the trainers in this survey.
Wholesome outcomes such as an improved sense of wellness, healthy and sustainable weight loss, a boost in confidence, improved immunity, and resistance to injury go way deeper than any superficial goals or objectives.
Always keep your eye on achieving real valuable results!
Real-Life vs. Online
While discussing wholesome outcomes, it’s fair to note how personal trainers view in-person training as a more valuable experience for their clients than online training.
Let us ignore the fact that online training can net you a lot of money and focus on the client value aspect.
You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to know that dealing with individuals head-on will offer them more value and provide you as a trainer with more substantial data than providing your services strictly through an electronic interface.
Don’t get me wrong, I think in this day and age; it is essential to have an online component to your PT business.
Great value can be provided through online training and there are a variety of advantages in doing so for both you and the client, such as scheduling/geographical convenience as well as cost.
But these 600 trainers are saying that nothing replaces the value provided by being right there with your client. There are just certain barriers to online personal training that cause it to fall short in what can be provided compared to in-person personal training.
Presented above are the top reasons personal trainers believe in-person personal training is superior to the online alternative.
I hope the survey of 600 practicing personal trainers provided valuable insight into many topics and questions that I believe are best answered through the collective opinion/experience of a large group of experts in the field versus the opinion of just one.
Please feel free to reference the results of this study, and don’t hesitate to reach out through the comment box below or email me at [email protected] for any requests for additional insight or suggestions for the next survey.