14 July, 2015

What if I don’t look like a stereotypical personal trainer?

When it comes to walking the talk, how important is our appearance as personal trainers? That really depends on what you’re talking.

For starters, knowing how to coach someone else to do something doesn’t necessitate currently participating in that sport yourself, though certainly having experienced it first hand in the past is invaluable.

We don’t expect AFL or boxing coaches to be in competition state in their coaching years, and we expect that they might have different goals in their own training. It follows then that while you might be able to coach someone else to achieve hypertrophy, you might be training for a marathon right now, but that won’t make you an less knowledgeable about muscle growth. Let your education, experience and results speak for themselves.

Certainly some potential clients will look for a trainer that looks the way that they themselves want to look, but not everyone is training for aesthetic purposes, and by being visible as someone who hasn’t bought into the aesthetics race in an aesthetics-dominated industry you can role model the other benefits of fitness such as physical strength, increased mood and coordination and make them seem accessible (which they are!).

Consider also that a diversity of body types working in the fitness industry sends the message to the general public that fitness is for every body, and that no-one needs to look like a bikini model or be in their 20′s to start working out and improving their health – perhaps one of the most important messages to get out there.

Work with what you’ve got and sell your strengths. There’s a place for all of us in the fitness industry. If you don’t look like the stereotypical personal trainer, make that work for you. You can base a thriving business on being relatable, having “imperfections” and not fitting the mould – plenty of people have done it and you can too.

You can also use your experiences to choose a speciality area because you understand your client’s experiences first hand. Network with other fitness professionals and find out how they’ve carved out their own niche.

It takes bravery to put yourself out there in an industry that has a lot of focus on body shape, age, attractiveness and ability, but people tend to react warmly to relatable people who have the courage to be themselves, be seen, and genuinely care about helping other people achieve their goals. They also tend to feel empowered to embrace their own bodies, abilities and experiences when they have real life examples of other people who have done just that.

You can be part of the positive change this industry needs. When we have an industry full of all kinds of trainers, there is a place for all kinds of clients. And that is so important if we are going to achieve a healthier and more active population.


Article written by AFA Ambassador and Graduate, Shelley Lask

Shelley is the owner of Body Positive Health & Fitness

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