Running Start Chapter 6 | How to present yourself as a personal trainer

Kudos for clinching your first job as a personal trainer.

How to present yourself as a personal trainer

Let me be your steward in this chapter to guide you on how to make a good impression on the first day of work.

Come along for the ride; It’s gonna be fun.


So you landed your first job.

What comes next is day-to-day activities that a personal trainer goes through in the quest to help clients turn their lives around.  

And while that involves assessing clients, devising workout plans and taking them through a fitness program, for the most part, no two days are ever the same.

It truly is an exciting career, that’s for sure. 

In chapter 5, we dealt with the need for you to show your personality during your interview and there is no reason for it to disappear now.

But there is more to it than that and in this chapter, I want to go through a few concepts that are critical to bear in mind as a personal trainer.

Things we will cover include how to conduct yourself, how to dress and personal trainer etiquette.  

Remember, while you certainly offer a service, more often than not, a client is buying into you first up.  

Practice what you preach

Ok, let’s cut straight to the chase here.

If you were a client, which of these personal trainers would you pick to help you reach your fitness goals? 

  • Bob, 35 years old. Bob has been a personal trainer for the past 10 years. Bob is around 5’11 and weighs around 220 pounds with flab around his torso in particular. Bob likes to hang out by the water cooler, slouching and watching people train.
  • Charlie, 20 years old. Charlie received his certification a month ago and just started his first job at a franchise gym. He is a livewire around the gym, whether he is helping out one of his few clients or cleaning up after a fitness session. And at 5’10 and weighing 160, lean muscular Charlie is a popular member of the staff already. 

You can see where I am going with this, right?

While Bob is certainly more experienced, is he carrying himself how he should through not only his work ethic but his attitude as well?

Carrying a little extra weight also suggests that Bob doesn’t care about his body in perhaps the way a personal trainer should.  

What about Charlie?

While he is certainly not as experienced, he more than makes up for that in his attitude.

He also looks the part of a personal trainer. 

Now if you were a new client looking to find the perfect personal trainer, who would you opt for?

Charlie, right?

Of course, he certainly walks the walk that a personal trainer should at all times.  

We say so much even without speaking

So what can we learn from that little scenario?

Well, our body language and the attitude we portray to others helps them to form opinions about us.  

Do you remember when we were dealing with going for an interview, I mentioned that it’s imperative that you smile and are friendly and attentive, no matter who you are dealing with, be it the receptionist at the gym or the manager?  

Well, the same can be said when you work on the floor as a personal trainer.

Sure we all have good days and bad days.

But in a job where your personality is perhaps the first thing a prospective client will notice, you can’t let that influence the way you carry yourself at the gym. 

That’s because even without talking to someone directly, they have already formed an opinion about you in their mind before you meet them.

And that’s done with just one look.

It’s a proven fact that our minds process information visually and we often base our decisions on this before anything else. 

So what’s that mean to us as personal trainers?

Well, if we could break it down as an example of advertising, what is it that advertises if you are good at your job without speaking a word, or writing a sentence? 

It’s you. 

The way you look, the way you conduct yourself, your smile, your engagements with others.

Those are just some of the things that speak for you before a word comes out of your mouth.  

So does that mean you need to be the buffest person trainer on the block?

Not at all and more on that later.

But it does mean you need to look the part of a personal trainer, that’s for sure.

In a nutshell, by looking the part, you convey to others and potential clients as well, that you are an expert.

And that’s got absolutely nothing to do with your level of experience.

You could be a real greenhorn, on your first day at the job and by just carrying yourself in the right way, you could impress people. 

You see, they don’t care that you have three certifications or if you finished in the top 1% of all the candidates taking the ACE personal trainer exam in 2019.

They can’t see that because your certification isn’t something you stick to yourself. 

The way you carry yourself and your overall demeanour is there for all to see, however.  

How should a personal trainer dress

For most personal trainers starting in the business, their first place of employment is more than likely going to be a fairly large gym that will have a uniform. 

And that’s a good thing because it takes a lot of pressure away from having to decide on a range of personal trainer outfits that you would have to wear every day.  

But what if you get a job at the small gym in your neighborhood or when you move from that large franchise gym to another that doesn’t have a uniform at all?

That’s why I have included this section in this course because it’s important and it’s not something that you would have covered in your studies, right? 

When it comes to the dress code at the gym for personal trainers, there are a couple of non-negotiables.

Let’s take a look. 

Your outfits should be functional

As a personal trainer, you are not sitting behind a desk all day.

You are constantly moving and active and while looking stylish might be important to you, one of the key characteristics of your outfit should be that it’s functional.  

That’s because over and above the fact that you are constantly on the go, you will also be showing clients exactly how to carry out the exercises that you want them to do.

Just imagine trying to demonstrate a squat to someone while wearing a pair of jeans.

It just won’t work. 

So functionality is key. 

That’s why personal trainers opt for clothing that might hug their frame but is made from materials that can stretch.

This allows them to demonstrate any exercise they have to without fear of the sound of a dreaded rip.   

Your outfits should look professional

When you work for a franchise gym, you will wear a set uniform that certainly will look professional. 

But if you are employed by a smaller gym or work for yourself, what you wear shows clients and potential clients just how professional you are.

Turning up to a client training session looking sloppy is not a look that you want at all.

Nobody wants to be trained by a personal trainer that doesn’t even look the part, that’s for sure.  

So aim for athletic wear that remains functional but makes you look the part of a personal trainer and shows that you live that lifestyle.

And don’t forget a decent pair of trainers as well.

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Also, remember to always have enough outfits so you never need to wear the same one twice without it getting a wash.

Clean clothing is imperative.  

A professional look can go a long way to helping a client decide if they want to make use of your services.

It’s often what new clients base their decision on before any of the book knowledge and experience you might have.  

Remember, designer gear is expensive and it’s not necessary to make you look professional.

There are plenty of clothing options for personal trainers that don’t need to break the bank.  

You should have a clothing budget

As a personal trainer who doesn’t have the option of a uniform, you are going to probably need around five outfits at the minimum.

That allows you to cover a week of training sessions with the option to wash outfits if you are going to take sessions over the weekend as well.  

Wearing these outfits often and their constant cleaning means that they will need to be replaced from time to time.

Again, as soon as a gym outfit starts to look a little tacky, you aren’t carrying that professional look off anymore. 

That’s why it’s best to have a clothing budget where you keep money aside to spend on replacement gym clothing and outfits whenever necessary. 

Don’t opt for anything controversial

While you might think it’s ok to wear a t-shirt with a political slogan or some satire on it, always take things from the point of view of the client.

You really don’t know their world views or if they have the same sense of humor that you might have and it could backfire horribly and see you lose clientele. 

The gym you are renting space in as a personal trainer may also take offense, so that’s why it’s a far better idea to wear a standard gym outfit.

The only writing on it should be your name, the fact that you are a personal trainer and the company who makes the clothing. 

Or anything intimidating

While a personal trainer that looks the part certainly is a selling point when looking to secure new clients, you don’t want to come off as intimidating either.  

So if you like pushing iron, it will still be noticeable without you having to wear a tank top to show your bulging biceps.

While you might think that would impress people, and yes, for some it might, it can also be a little intimidating for others. 

Those who are new to the gym probably would opt for a trainer with a regular looking build over someone with bulging muscles.  

It’s a similar story if you are a female personal trainer.

Keep your outfit sensible without it revealing too much.

Yes, the way you look can be an indicator that you have the skills to help others but it should never scare them off. 

That’s why a sensible outfit is always your best option.

So that’s something that looks good on you, remains sensible without being controversial, has no slogans (other than your name and personal trainer), isn’t intimidating and is neat and clean.

It’s not too difficult! If you are renting space in a gym and working with clients, it’s polite to check with the gym owner to any dress code that they might prefer.

And if you are spending a long day in the gym, it’s worthwhile to bring two outfits along, changing into a fresh one during the middle of your shift.

Your last client of the day will thank you! 

Personal trainer etiquette

As with just about any other job on the planet, there is certainly a form of etiquette that you as a personal trainer should follow.

And in this section, I want to highlight a few points that are non-negotiable in ensuring you strive to be the best personal trainer you can be. 

Always represent yourself in an accurate manner

Personal training is not a career where you can present yourself, your certifications and what you are capable of in an inaccurate manner.

You certainly cannot fake your way to success, that’s for sure.

It’s hard work and lots of sweat. 

That’s particularly true when you are starting out and don’t have that much experience.

New trainers have lots of book knowledge but little practical knowledge.

And that’s fine, don’t even pretend to be something you are not.

 In situations where you are working with clients, there is nothing wrong with making the occasional error.

Don’t be afraid to.

You are learning and in many cases, so are your clients.

Overall it’s the effort from both parties that lead to results.  

Never lie about your certifications either.

Although clients might not care what certifications you hold, the gym where you work will.

And they will make sure that you are accredited by the fitness organizations that you claim to be. 

Sometimes, you may also benefit from upscaling or selling certain packages to clients.

When discussing these packages with them, always make them aware that you will be earning a small commission if that is the case.

Being open and forthright should always be your goal.  

That’s even true for clients that you have trouble working with.

For example, those that continually miss appointments.

If you feel the need to cut them from your roster, do so and be open as to why you are taking that course of action.

Ultimately, clients like these are costing your time and money and if they do not make an effort after you have asked them to, it’s better to let them go.  

Confidentiality is key

It kind of goes without saying but client confidentiality should always be protected.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case in the fitness world.  

Clients will be sharing various bits of information with you, some of which will certainly be confidential.

Ethically, you should never divulge this to anyone else.

But legally, you are bound to keep their confidential information to yourself as well.  

That also means that any client records should be protected.

If you have written reports on your clients, these should be kept in a locked filing cabinet, for instance, not the gym office where anyone could look at them. 

If you keep your records electronically, only you should have access to them, whether they are saved on a device or by using a cloud-based service. 

Lastly, while sharing success stories on your social media channels might seem like the perfect way to not only drive engagement and secure new leads, you MUST at all times ask the client whose story you are intending to share if they give the go-ahead or not. 

In most cases, people are more than willing to show others their incredible success but sometimes, the answer might be no and you must respect that.  

Respect clients boundaries

Now while the work of a personal trainer means interacting with a client, even touching them as you take them through the correct form for exercises, you have to respect their boundaries.  

It also goes without saying that personal relationships with clients should be avoided at all costs.

And if something does happen and you start to have a personal relationship with a client, you should not be their trainer anymore.  

A word of advice regarding touching clients.

You should only do so with their consent.

And get that consent by explaining to them exactly what you are going to do, which body part you will be targeting and why you are going to do it.  

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Here are a few guidelines you can follow regarding this critical subject: 

  • Always get consent at all times to touch a client
  • Only ask for consent if you need to instruct them in some way and for no other reason
  • If a client seems unhappy at any time, stop immediately
  • Contact should always be deliberate and done in a firm manner. Use the palm of your hand instead of touching with fingertips
  • Only ever touch clients on their clothing, never bare skin or under clothing
  • At any time that you have needed to touch a client, you should make the necessary notes of what you did once the session has concluded.
  • Always keep your communication clear at all times

Each client deserves unique instructions

As a new personal trainer, no doubt you will be bright-eyed and eager to please everyone.

That means, for every client you get, you will devise a unique individual training plan to help them to reach their goals. 

Fast forward a few years and the chances are you might come across clients with similar fitness goals as well as assessment data to others you have trained before.

It’s very easy in situations like this to try to cut corners and use workout plans that you have devised for others.

And you might do so because you are so busy that you just don’t seem to have the time to draw up their own workout program. 

But don’t do it.  

Each of your clients pays you a fee for your undivided attention and that’s not only during the time you take them through a workout session.

It includes taking the time to devise the perfect workout for every individual.  

Another bad habit to avoid is not carrying out assessment tests properly.

Not only are you ethically compelled to do so but legally as well.

And remember, should a client get injured because you fail to assess their health properly, you could be held liable.  

Don’t give clients advice in areas that you do not specialize in

When dealing with clients, you should never give any advice on subjects that you are not certified in.

For example, you would have no doubt learned about nutrition during your certification but that doesn’t make you a dietician.  

As a trainer, you can give general nutritional advice to help a client in their attempt to build muscle or lose fat for example.

You cannot, however, provide a diet or eating plan that helps clients suffering from certain diseases, for example, diabetes or other ailments.

Many personal trainers have mutually beneficial partnerships with other professionals in the fitness world, where they refer clients to say a dietician or massage therapist should the need arise and vice versa.

Remember, if you receive a financial incentive when doing this, you are bound by law to tell your client so.

Also, your client has the right to decline your suggestion and find a professional of their own. 

Take care not to use the intellectual property of others

It’s important to respect the intellectual property of others.

For many personal trainers, setting up their social media accounts means posting plenty of content as they attempt to get followers.

Never post interesting fitness articles and claim them as your own.

Ask permission from the author first and credit them in each post.

It’s also easy to just google a certain type of image you are looking for and use that on your social media channels.

Again, if you are not using a website such as Wiki Commons, the chances are that most of the images you want to use are copyrighted. 

Even on a website like Wiki Commons, many images are copyright and you will have to include the necessary information in your posts unless the image is in the public domain. 

Also, I mentioned it before but it’s a common problem so I will mention it again.

Only use images of your clients on your social media channels if you have asked for and received their consent to do so. 

Ongoing education is important

I’m not talking about getting further certifications here, although of course, that’s highly encouraged.

Specifically, this is about maintaining your continuing education credits (CECs) that are required by the organization through which you received your certification.

A specific number of these need to be generated by attending various courses run by the certification organization as well as others, usually over two to three years. 

These CECs can either be a certain number of points you earn or hours gained by attending these courses.

Another often overlooked area is your CPR/AED certification.

From an ethical point of view, keeping all these certifications up to date is imperative. When a client trains with you, they would expect that you are. 

Run the business side of things efficiently

You are a personal trainer, right?

But that doesn’t mean you can let the business side of things slide.

At all times, make sure you operate within the laws of the state you practice in.

That includes paying the right taxes and other levies expected of you.

If that’s something you struggle with, it’s better to get an expert to deal with taxation and other areas that could be a problem for you. 

If you are starting a business, do so with the help of an attorney and always make sure that you have the necessary insurance in place to cover yourself should a liability claim come against you. 

These are good, ethical practices and should always form the foundation of your personal training career from a business sense.

Creating your personal trainer bio

As a personal trainer, you are going to need to write a bio about yourself.

Bio’s are used on your social media sites, in flyers and pamphlets and even in advertising by the gym you work for.

And it’s something that you want to get right because a bio is a great marketing tool that speaks for you across a host of mediums.

So you should focus on making it as effective as possible. 

That’s why I think it’s important that we take the time to look into how you should go about creating your bio and how to write an effective one that can help your career.

A couple of things we are going to look at are who you are writing for, the structure of your bio, how to sell yourself effectively, and how to tell your unique personal story. 

Define your target audience

Like anything to do with marketing, defining your target audience is the most important thing to determine before you write your bio.

Once you have done that, it should be structured and written with them in mind. 

But who is your target audience?

Well, when starting out, most personal trainers have a very general audience and that’s good because you want to interact with as many different types of clients as possible. 

In other words, your target audience is just about anyone who comes to the gym who might consider using a personal trainer to enhance their experience, get fitter, lose weight or to get stronger, for example. 

When you have more experience and start to look to specialize as a personal trainer, your bio is going to be far more focused on what that specialization is.

In that case, it’s aimed at a very specific type of client.

By defining your target audience, you can keep your bio in line with their needs and that certainly will lead to more clients because you are providing a solution to their specific problem. 

These are a couple of things to consider when trying to define your target audience. 

  • Who would you consider to be the right client for you?
  • What motivates them?
  • What are their goals?
  • Do they currently attend the gym?
  • What age group are they?

It doesn’t need to be technical

Potential clients aren’t too concerned about the fancy words that you learned during your studies.

They want to know what you can do for them in a language that they understand.

And that can be challenging to get across in your bio without using some technical words but it’s essential that you do. 

Keep it short

Your bio needs to be short, sharp and to the point.

No long, drawn-out stories here, you don’t want to bore any potential clients, that’s for sure.

So say what needs to be said in as few words possible.

And what’s the length you should be aiming for?

Well, around 100 words are all that you need.

Always write your bio in the first person

Writing a bio in the third person makes it far less personal.

What you are trying to achieve here is a connection with someone through words.

Writing in the first person does that.

For example, “I can help you….”

By writing in the first person, you will come across as far more accessible because you are talking directly at them. 

If you have a personal story, tell it!

While not all personal trainers have a story to tell, if you do, then tell it in your bio.

For example, you may have once struggled with your weight but thanks to going to the gym and using a personal trainer, you lost all of it.

And that inspired you to be a personal trainer and help others. 

People will want to work with someone who has experienced the hardships they have and who has made a success of themselves nonetheless. 

How to structure your personal trainer bio

So now you have some of the basics behind writing the perfect personal trainer bio, let’s take a look at how you should structure it.

Start with your experience

It’s important that you tell your target audience who you are and what you do.

Get that out of the way right in the beginning.

And if you don’t have that much experience, that’s where your expertise comes in.

After all, you are a qualified personal trainer, right?

It’s ok to mention your credentials

While your client’s probably don’t care if you were certified by ACE, NASM or ISSA, you can still get across that you are a qualified personal trainer.

And that’s easy to do using words that show the client that you know what you are talking about when it comes to fitness training.

For example, there is no need to say something like, “I am an ACE certified personal trainer with 5 years experience”.

Rather say something like “With 5 years of experience helping people just like you, I am a fitness professional that can help turn your life around.

You are speaking straight to the client, telling them what you can do for them as well as getting your expertise across through the words “fitness professional”.

Include your area of expertise ( if you have one)

As you start to find your niche, your personal trainer bio is going to need to include your area of expertise.

So one day, if you focus on being a weight-loss expert, you could say something like “I help people just like you to turn their lives around, tackling their weight head-on by using a combination of exercise and basic nutrition guidelines.”

That’s just an idea, make it your own and unique and show potential clients just how you can help them.

Remember to talk to them directly as well, always in the first person. 

Remember to include critical information

It’s all good and well talking about your service and how you can help but you have to also include some critical information about yourself as well as other details.

So don’t forget the following:

  • Your name
  • Where you are situated
  • How potential clients can contact you
  • What your specialization is (if you have one)
  • The services you offer

Don’t forget a call to action

It’s all good and well including all the above in a perfectly written bio but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t make a potential client act, what’s the point?

Any good marketing person will tell you that the point of a bio is to get someone to see that you can provide them with a service and then act upon it.

And to invoke that response in a potential client, you need a decent call to action.

The great thing about a call to action is that it can be anything really, just as long as it gets them to act.

Example of calls to action that work include:

  • Inviting them to book a consultation with you
  • Ask them to take part in a fitness survey which includes taking their contact details for later action, for example, specific emailers
  • A link to a landing page on your website
  • A free assessment

These are just some of the examples of a call to action that you can use.

Tailor-make one to suit your needs in generating new clients.

I have put together an example of a personal trainer bio.

You can download it in the chapter resources.

The file is called Personal Trainer Bio.

Conclusion and assignment

This chapter covered all the information you need to know about properly presenting yourself as a personal trainer.

It’s filled with critical information on how to carry yourself, the personal trainer dress code and the etiquette and rules a personal trainer should follow when dealing with clients. 

Not only that but we also took a deep look into your personal trainer bio, an important marketing tool as you start your journey in the fitness world.

We covered how to write one but more importantly how it should be structured. 

Don’t forget to take the chapter takeaway quiz to make sure you have a good grasp of everything covered here. 

In the course resources, there is a downloadable document where you can write your first personal trainer bio.

It’s called Assignment: Write your own personal trainer bio. 

Give it a go!

Also, don’t forget to take the chapter takeaway quiz to make sure you have a good grasp of everything covered here.


Course Resources – Chapter 6 – Personal Trainer Bio

Course Resources – Chapter 6 – Assigment – Write your Personal Trainer Bio

Chapter 6 Takeaway Quiz

Running Start Chap 6

1 / 8

Which of these speaks for us as a personal trainer even before we say a word?

2 / 8

A personal trainer’s outfit should always be functional, comfortable and allow them to move freely.

3 / 8

Which of the following should you avoid when it comes to personal trainer clothing?

4 / 8

True or false? All records of your clients should be under lock and key or stored behind a password if using personal training software.

5 / 8

It’s ok to touch a client at any time to show them where they are going wrong while trying a certain exercise. True or false?

6 / 8

When you do ask permission to touch a client to guide them through an exercise, you should always…

7 / 8

Even as a personal trainer starting out, which of these is an important marketing tool that you can use to advertise your services?

8 / 8

A personal trainer bio should be around ____ words.

Your score is


Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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