I believe the lasting personal trainer goes through a variety of phases, before even potentially coming back full circle, professionally speaking.
At first, pre-training as a job, the individual is a fitness enthusiast seeking to earn a living doing what they love, helping others and looking for a reason to spend more time at the gym. Some get a special kind of calling, because their story (neck and spine injury in my case, much like going into martial arts was a result of bullying and low self-confidence) leads them there.
Then comes the certification (nationally accredited). Then, learning how to run a business (a little backwards, which is why if you are a budding trainer, don’t think you’ll figure it out without help, because you won’t do it well. Get a coach, join a box gym, learn the systems and how to sell, even if it’s by not selling with a pitch, though it helps some, if you’re new).
Then, the lasting trainer will seek more education, knowledge as well as acquire new tools for the trade, sometimes not provided by the box gym, other times to populate their boutique gym or their under the table clientèle outside the box gym and at a local park when they begin to branch out and think like a small business owner, while not quitting the day job.
Then, trainers become educators. Some try to immediately instill what they just learned over the weekend for a few thousand dollars, others will implement and apply slowly. Trainers also try to bridge the gap between physical therapy and training, afraid their injured client may go to a physical therapist that would take away their business, as the client would allocate funds other than to their training.
Truth is, delegating to a qualified and capable physical therapist and staying within the scope of the training practice is what keeps trainers in business: know where the training ends, and where the person you trust for body work needs to take over. That occupational therapist, physical therapist, massage therapist, “acupunctor” or other is going to make the training client better and will send them back to the personal trainer sooner.
While we are versed in restorative arts and corrective exercise, not all of us know how to fully help someone recover. We pass the baton or grab it whenever appropriate, expand our network of referrals, clients, prospects and strengthen our reputation with peers and the professionals offering treatments we don’t, so that our clients can continue training with us.
Trainers, know your scope, stay within it, with some crossover of knowledge, but don’t overextend your skill set to where it can become a liability.