If you’re a newly qualified fitness instructor, then you’re probably excited to jump into your new career. Now that your studies are over, it’s time to put what you’ve learned to good use.


But in addition to all those exercises and coaching techniques, there are a few other essentials you need to master. Some instructors have no idea and end up making some big mistakes as a result. But with a little insider knowledge, you can easily avoid falling into the same old traps…


In this article – you’ll learn how to avoid the most common career mistakes that fitness instructors and personal trainers make.


#1 – Not Learning To Sell

Selling is a key skill that many fitness professionals underestimate. But it’s fundamental to getting clients, generating more revenue, and increasing your take-home salary.


Not prioritising sales skills is one of the most common career mistakes in the fitness industry. So, don’t put off learning how to sell – start as soon as you can.


Fix it by…

Reading books on sales or studying an online course. There are also plenty of articles on our blog that can help you develop your selling skills.


The next step is to put them into practice – start incorporating the strategies you learn into everyday habits. This way they’ll become ingrained into your routine and feel like a natural part of interacting with potential clients.


#2 – Being Generalist Instead of Specialist

Many newbies want to appeal to as many people as possible. They don’t want to alienate certain groups of people by specialising in others, so they try to cater to everyone.


But this means you risk being labelled as ‘average’ because you aren’t seen as a specialist in anything particular. It also doesn’t enable you to differentiate yourself from the competition which usually forces a drop in prices.


Fix it by…

Deciding on a niche target group you want to work with such as sports professionals, pre or post-natal, older adults etc. Some populations will require specialist training to ensure you are appropriately qualified before working with them. Make it your goal to find one new client from that group within the next month.


If you’re unsure how to find them, then list the characteristics people from that group may have. Keep an eye out for them around the gym and in daily life.


Explain that you have recently specialised in (insert your niche group) and are offering half-price sessions to get some experience. In return, they’ll need to provide a testimonial and feedback to help you improve. You can then use this information to improve your training skills and market your specialist services to other clients.


#3 – Being Over-Confident

The biggest mistake that newly qualified trainers make is being over-confident. It’s completely understandable – you’ve just completed your studies and are excited by the ways you can help people.


But by trying to demonstrate how much you now know, you can come across as arrogant. Whether you are or not is another matter, but perception is everything in this business.


Fix it by…

Asking others for advice and opinions. Maybe not on fitness training since people expect an instructor to be knowledgeable on that area! But everyone knows about something, so seek expertise from the people around you. For example…


  • ‘Hey Lucy, you like to travel, where should I go on holiday this summer?’
  • ‘Hey Nav, you’re married, what should I get my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day?’


Small things like this will demonstrate that you value other people’s perspectives and aren’t a lone wolf.


#4 – Not Learning New Skills

A good fitness instructing qualification will teach you how to use basic equipment – cardio, strength, and free weights. But it may not go into detail about kettlebells or suspensions trainers. It probably won’t cover nutrition or meditation in any depth.


So, if you want to become a well-rounded fitness professional, it’s important to continue learning. Be proactive and seek out new training skills that you can share with gym members and clients.


Fix it by…

Picking a training technique to specialise in. List the most popular classes at your gym or common requests from members. Go with your own favourite technique or review the ACSM list of current fitness trends if you don’t have any ideas.


Then brush up on your knowledge and practical skills by attending a training course or reading articles from reputable websites. Incorporate what you learn into your own workout routine so you’re practicing almost daily to increase your competence quickly.


#5 – Underestimating the Importance of Social Skills

Many people underestimate the importance of social skills in the gym business. They assume it’s all about how fit you look and how much you know.


But being personable is essential to success in any service-oriented role, so it’s worth paying attention to. If you lack people skills, then you’ll make others feel awkward. They won’t want to work or train with you. Unfortunately, this isn’t something they teach in school or as part of a fitness syllabus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it.


Fix it by…

Reading up on social skills and then putting your knowledge into practice. Learn about body language to make sure you’re not committing any accidental mistakes. Make a list of 5x conversation starters that you can rely on in a social emergency. Please note that ‘the weather’ is not allowed to be one of them 😉


Part of being approachable means welcoming others’ opinions, so take time to ask people what they think. And don’t take yourself too seriously – even if you are socially awkward, using self-deprecating humour and laughing at yourself will put others at ease.


Common Instructor Mistakes Pinterest