Mistakes Personal Trainers Make

Whether you’re a newly qualified personal trainer or have been in the industry for years, everyone makes mistakes! 

But to help you be the best PT you can be, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes personal trainers make, so you can avoid them! 

Before we get started, if you’re not already, become a qualified personal trainer with OriGym today! Enquire now, or download our free course prospectus here for more information about our industry-leading courses. 

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #1- Failing To Research A Client’s Medical Background

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One of the most common mistakes fitness professionals make when signing up a new client is failing to obtain a full medical history.

This could include any health conditions a client has, as well as any current or past injuries that they have sustained.

It’s crucial to be aware of any medical issues a client may have before your first session, in case an incident occurs whilst you are training.

For example, if a client fails to tell you about a heart condition, you won’t know to keep an eye out for any signs of pain, which could lead to a medical emergency.

Similarly, if you’re unaware of an injury to a specific muscle or joint, you won’t be able to tailor your workout plan around this injury. 

This could result in undue stress being put onto the muscle or joint, leading to aggravation or further injury.

Furthermore, if a client does become injured during a session due to you failing to obtain a full medical record, the client could take out a compensation claim against you.

Compensation claims for bodily injury means that you could be facing huge costs, particularly if you are not covered by a personal trainer insurance policy!

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #2- Not Adapting Your Communication To Each Client

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One of the main mistakes that all types of personal trainers make is not adapting their communication style to each individual client. This can result in some clients who don’t bond and communicate with people in the same way that you do feeling awkward and disconnected from you.

You should tailor your personality to mirror your client’s.

This is important as it will help you build rapport with your clients. This helps you build a positive and trusting relationship with them, which makes them more likely to be engaged in your programme and ultimately it’s what will make them keep coming back to you!

Plus, adapting your communication to each client makes them feel more valued and shows that you are treating them as an individual. Again, this will make them enjoy your sessions more and therefore remain as a paying client!

With this in mind, when you take on a new client, you should therefore think about the best way to communicate with them. This depends on factors such as:

  • Their age
  • Their gender
  • Their fitness level
  • How confident and talkative they are
  • Their interests and hobbies
  • Their cultural background

For example, you would likely communicate very differently with a young, energetic athlete compared to an older person who may have lower energy levels or even an injury. 

This could manifest in the adapting the subject matters you talk about with them, or even more subtle changes such as:

  • Your body language
  • Your energy levels
  • The speed you talk 
  • The language you use and how you phrase things

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #3- Not Focusing On Individual Clients In A Group Class Or Session

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As a personal trainer, as well as training clients one-on-one, you may also train clients in a group setting- whether that’s a group PT class or a larger group exercise class.

One of the most common mistakes personal trainers make when training clients in a group is failing to focus on each client as an individual. 

Whilst you will of course need to adapt your training style to address a group compared to just one person, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look at each client as an individual. 

After all, it is unlikely that every single person in a group will have exactly the same needs, abilities and fitness level. You should therefore be aware of these individual differences when teaching a group class.

Failing to do so can result in clients within the group feeling like their needs are not being addressed, or their goals not being achieved. This can make them disengaged and unmotivated, and ultimately less likely to return to your fitness class again. 

To avoid this mistake, you should therefore try and find out as much information about the clients in your group as you can.

For example, you could ask at the start of the class whether anyone has any injuries you should know about. Knowing this means that you can then ‘keep an eye’ on anyone with a specific injury and offer them modifications throughout the class.

Another way to do this is to address people individually in the class. For example, say you are teaching a group kettlebell class. As well as giving instructions to the whole group, you could also go round each person individually and offer them advice or modifications, or even words of encouragement to motivate them if they are struggling. 

Similarly, you should make sure that you are fully present when training clients- whether one-on-one or in a group. 

If you are distracted whilst training clients, they won’t feel that they are getting your full attention, which can make them feel demotivated.

You should therefore be completely present during every session, and ensure that you are there to coach clients through every step.

To achieve this, be sure to eliminate all distractions. For example, wait until after the class to check your phone and reply to any enquiries, rather than pausing halfway through.

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #4- Not Maximising Your Time As A PT

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Unlike the average office job, which has a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday schedule, personal trainers can find themselves working evenings, weekends and much longer hours.

As a personal trainer, you have a lot more control over your working hours- however, one of the main mistakes personal trainers make is not managing their time effectively.

In other words, they fail to maximise their time in such a way that allows them to train the most clients and ultimately make the most money, whilst also finding time for themselves to relax. 

The main thing to consider is peak and off-peak times. 

By this, we mean the days of the week and times that most clients will likely want to train with you. 

For example, since most people work during weekdays, a peak time for most clients would be weekday evenings or weekend mornings. It is also unlikely that clients will want to train on a Friday or Saturday night when they may want to go out!

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t clients who want to train at off-peak times. For example, people who work night shifts may want sessions early in the morning, or those who work weekends may want weekday afternoon sessions. 

With this in mind, you should think about how you can most effectively schedule your working week according to these demands.

For example, instead of making yourself available for just one client on a Saturday night, you should keep this time for yourself and prioritise fitting in most of your clients during peak times, such as during the week after 5pm. 

This is the ideal solution, as it means that you can train the most amount of clients in one chunk, as well as keeping time for yourself. This time can then be used either to relax, or to spend working on other aspects of your PT business such as:

  • Marketing
  • Responding to enquiries
  • Online clients
  • Finances 
  • Your professional development
  • Your own workouts

Scheduling time for yourself also helps you avoid personal trainer burnout, allowing you to maintain a healthy work-life balance. 


Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #5- Asking Too Much of Clients 

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It’s important to push your clients to perform at their best, but one of the common mistakes personal trainers make is asking too much of clients, too quickly.

This is particularly true of new trainers, who may want to show off their skills and stand out as a personal trainer

However, it’s not always the case that the sorer a client feels afterwards, the more effective the session was.

Whilst everyone will experience DOMS (delayed on-set muscle soreness) after a session, extreme DOMs is not necessarily a good thing. By this, we mean the kind that can seriously hinder movement and functionality, and even lead to injury. This can indicate that you’ve pushed your client too far. 

Rather than motivating clients, this could have the opposite effect and overwhelm them, meaning that they may not want to come back for another session.

You should therefore always try to determine whether your client is in genuine discomfort, or whether they aren’t enjoying the activity.

If they are in pain, you should stop pushing right away and modify the exercise to avoid injury.

Check out these signs of overtraining so you know how to avoid pushing your clients too far!

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #6- Not Developing Their Skills With Further Qualifications

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Although you’re already a qualified Level 3 personal trainer, this doesn’t mean the end of your education and self-development. In fact, settling once they are a qualified PT is one of the most common mistakes fitness professionals make.

Good personal trainers should want to keep learning more, keep developing their skills, and stay up to date with the latest techniques and developments in the fitness industry.

The best way to do this is through CPD or Level 4 courses. 

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development, and are short skills that help expand your knowledge and improve your service to clients.

Here at OriGym, we offer a wide range of CPD courses, including:

  • Circuit training
  • Boxing and pad work
  • Kettlebells
  • Strength and conditioning
  • Group training

You could also enhance your knowledge with a Level 4 course, such as:

By becoming more qualified, you are then able to offer a higher level of service to your clients and even specialise in a particularly niche or type of training. This all means that you can market yourself as an ‘expert’ or ‘advanced’ personal trainer, and can therefore charge more for your services! 

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #7- Failing To Consider The Time And Location When Planning A Session

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As a PT, you will know that you should plan your sessions beforehand, in terms of what exercises you will do with your client. 

However, a major mistake that fitness professionals make is failing to consider any logistical issues in the workout environment as they plan their personal training sessions.

Say you are training your client in a gym that has 3 floors. When planning your session, you should think about where each of the exercises you want to teach and the equipment you need are stationed. 

For example, having your client work on the squat machine on the first floor, then having to go up to the third floor to use the cardio equipment. This not only wastes your time, but can make your client feel disengaged as it disrupts the flow of the session. 

Similarly, a common mistake that personal trainers make is not considering the time of the session when planning.

For example, you should consider the peak times of the gym, as it is likely that popular equipment such as squat racks and deadlift stations will be busy at these times. You may therefore want to avoid programming these exercises during these times, or find alternative exercises. 

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #8- Not Asking For Testimonials

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Testimonials are a form of review, but take the form of a written statement, expressing their experience. 

They are one of the best forms of marketing for yourself and your business, as a positive testimonial can help show your business in a positive light. In fact, research has shown that 97% of potential clients will read reviews before investing in a product or service!

Yet despite this, one of the most common mistakes that fitness professionals make is failing to get testimonials from their clients, therefore missing out on this invaluable marketing tool. 

A tip for gathering positive testimonials is to ask clients for feedback after you’ve helped them achieve a goal, or when they’ve been working with you for a substantial amount of time.

They could give their testimonial via email, text or even voice note! 

You can then use their testimonial in your marketing, such as on your website or social media. 

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #9- Teaching Exercises They’re Not Completely Familiar With

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When you’re a new personal trainer or are trying to compete with others in the industry, it can be tempting to teach a wide range of exercises- some of which you may not be so familiar with.

However, teaching exercises when you aren’t familiar with the proper form means that clients could be practising exercises incorrectly.

For instance, the way in which the exercise is performed means that clients may be targeting the wrong muscle.

This can therefore mean that they fail to meet their goals and make progress. As a result, they’re likely to feel demotivated, and may be unwilling to return for more sessions.

Performing exercises with incorrect form can also lead to injury, since the wrong muscles are being used.  

To avoid this common mistake that personal trainers make, if you don’t feel qualified to train a client in a particular way, don’t take the risk!

Not only does this avoid injuries or failing to meet goals, but knowing where your specialities lie can help you find your personal training niche. In other words, stick to what you know, and you can really dominate a specific area of the fitness industry! 


Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #10- Not Keeping Track Of Clients’ Progress Effectively 

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Perhaps one of the most easily avoidable mistakes that personal trainers make is failing to keep track of their client’s progress. 

During or at the end of every session, you should keep a record of things such as:

  • Number of reps performed
  • Weight lifted
  • Time to perform a specific exercise
  • How your client felt after each exercise/ the session 

Keeping a record of these things will help you keep track of each individual client. 

Tracking progress benefits you as a personal trainer as if you have lots of different clients, keeping a record of their progress can help you keep track of each individual client. For example, before a session, you could check your notes to remind yourself of where the client is up to and what they did last time, to help you shape the next session. 

It also benefits the client, as it allows them to see them progressing, which will keep them motivated and engaged in your training programme! 

This is particularly important if you are doing strength training with your clients. Not tracking things like weight used and reps performed means that clients won’t achieve progressive overload, which is essential for stimulating muscle growth.

Repeating the same things week on week also means that they’re unlikely to make progress or reach their goals. Clients are likely to become demotivated if you’re not helping them to reach their full potential, and will eventually look for a personal trainer elsewhere.

Mistakes Personal Trainers Make #11- Being Overly Rigid With Your Programme Plan

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The final mistake fitness professionals make is being overly rigid and set with your clients. 

Whilst you of course need to plan and structure your training programmes, there should also be an element of flexibility and openness to change, even half way through a programme.

Some possible reasons you may need to change or alter a training programme are:

  • A programme isn’t working i.e. your client is failing to meet their goals 
  • A programme is too hard or too easy for your client
  • Your client gets ill or injured

With this in mind, a mistake that personal trainers make is carrying on with their original plan even if these things occur. This is not beneficial for your client- as a personal trainer, you should always have their needs and goals in mind, even if these change throughout the programme. 

To avoid this mistake, you should constantly check in with your client’s progress. If they are failing to make the progress you expected, think about why and adapt your programme accordingly!

For example, you may find that your client is simply becoming disengaged, so mixing up the exercises would be beneficial. 

Or, if they are failing to make progress, you may not be challenging them enough and so need to make the programme more challenging!

Similarly, if they get injured or fall ill, make sure that the exercises you give them are safe and mindful of their injury or illness. 

Being able to adapt to these things is one of the main qualities that makes a good personal trainer, as it shows that you have your client’s best interests in mind- and this will keep your clients coming back to you!

Before You Go!

So, we hope that this article will help you avoid the most common mistakes that personal trainers make, so you can be the best PT you can be! 

Feeling inspired? If you’re not already, take a personal training course with OriGym today and start a lucrative career in the fitness industry! 

Enquire today, or browse the full range of courses we offer by downloading our free prospectus here

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About the Author: Rebecca Felton

rebecca felton origym authour
Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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