Professional development is vital for personal trainers, fitness coaches, and instructors. Whether you’re a fitness manager, training director, or freelance PT, self development is important for your career (and your team’s too). It helps people become more successful in their roles, give better service to clients, and reduces the likelihood of career boredom.

In this article – we explore personal training development areas, opportunities, and ideas for fitness professionals and team leaders who want to grow a successful career.

Whether you’re a manager who’s responsible for personal trainer development within your team or are just looking for ways to develop your own PT abilities, we’ve got you covered. If you’re unsure where to start, which qualities or skills you should be developing, or how to actually do it, this guide has the answers.

We’re a team of qualified personal trainers and fitness coaches with 15+ years of industry experience, so we know first-hand what works (and what doesn’t!). We’ve trained other fitness professionals in sales, marketing, and business growth, so our strategies are tried and tested.

Why Is Professional Development Important For Personal Trainers?

Personal training and development go hand-in-hand. While spending time on development might seem like a ‘nice to do’ rather than a priority, it’s actually vital for career progression and satisfaction.

Professional development is sometimes written off as an admin task – a chore that’s required for CPD points. It’s time that could be spent training clients or generating leads, so why invest it in self-development? But in reality, there are three key reasons why personal trainer development is important…

  • Helps people become more successful in their roles – by developing their training abilities and business skills
  • Enables PT to give better service to clients – by expanding their coaching knowledge and exercise repertoire 
  • Reduces the likelihood of career boredom – by enabling them to grow and learn new training techniques

The fitness industry has a high turnover of staff. People join and leave it in very quick successions which can be frustrating and disappointing for employees and employers.

But professional development can help solve this issue. By investing in professional development for your staff, you demonstrate that you’re committed to their long-term career growth. And if you’re worried about them leaving straight after you’ve invested, then add a repayment clause to their contract. This way you can recoup some of the costs if they leave within a certain amount of time.

As a personal trainer, professional development can stretch and challenge you, helping to keep you interested in a role. It benefits clients who get to reap the rewards of your expanded knowledge or new training expertise. Regular learning can also motivate you or reignite the initial passion you had for PT if that’s starting to wain.

How To Approach Personal Trainer Development

An important part of personal trainer development is setting professional goals. If you’re a PT manager, then you’ll usually have a template document to use when conducting staff reviews. But if you work for yourself, then you can create your own personal training goal sheet that outlines your development objectives.

It’s a good idea to address at least three areas…

  • Career goals – what are you or your team member working towards long-term and address the skill-set or experience gaps (e.g. team management).
  • Strengths – build on what someone is already good at.
  • Improvement areas – develop areas of weakness or opportunity.

This will ensure a balanced approach to development so that you continually grow into a better PT. It will also help you to increase your salary on a consistent basis and develop your career long-term. Let’s dive into how to identify development areas and then put together a plan for addressing them…

Professional Development for Personal Trainers

Here are development areas that personal trainers can look to grow and cultivate into superpowers…

  1. Motivating people
  2. Training niche populations
  3. Sales skills
  4. Specialist training techniques
  5. Skills for career progression

Let’s explore each of these areas and how personal trainers can develop them…

Motivating people

Motivating clients is a crucial skill for personal trainers and fitness coaches. Are you able to get people to take action? Do you inspire them to achieve their goals?

If you know how to get the best out of clients then you’re much more likely to get them results. Making them believe that they can achieve their aspirations is a unique strength so never underestimate its power.

Develop this skill by… Reading books on personal training, watching TED Talks and YouTube videos about motivational techniques, or paying attention to how other personal trainers around you do this effectively.

Training niche populations

Once you’ve built your general fitness coaching skills, it can be useful to develop specialist expertise. One way to do this is by choosing a niche population to work with. This could be sports athletes, older adults, postnatal mothers, or any other group of people who would benefit from your expertise.

Current & Emerging Health Fitness Trends
According to the latest 2024 fitness trend data, worksite health promotion and older adults are popular areas that could be worth specialising in.

Think about the populations you already have experience of working with. If several of your existing clients fall into the same demographic or category, then this might be one to double-down on. You’ll already have gained specialist knowledge from working with them that other trainers don’t have. This is a valuable aspect of personal trainer development so be sure to put it to good use…

Develop this skill by… Finding CPD courses (ACE and NASM offer the best choice or check out our PT deals page) that focus on the special population you’re particularly interested in working with.

Sales skills

Knowing how to sell your services is a vital skill for every personal trainer. Without it, you simply won’t be able to sign up the number of clients you need to earn a decent salary. Whether you’re a PT or fitness coach, selling is vital if you want to be successful.

It’s a sad fact that 90% of personal trainers leave the industry within their first year. Many struggle to get enough clients to earn a proper wage, and quickly become disillusioned with their dream career. So, if it’s absolutely crucial to learn how to sell fitness and sign up more PT clients. There’s really little point in signing up for other fitness-related professional development courses if you won’t be able to secure clients afterwards.

Develop this skill by… Reading books on sales, practicing techniques with prospective clients, or signing up for our online course that’s designed specifically for personal trainers who want to learn sales skills.

Personal Training Sales Success [Online Course]

Specialist training skills & techniques

Are you a specialist in certain types of training or would you like to become one? Maybe you focus on HIIT, boxing, or strength and conditioning. Perhaps you like training clients using plyometrics or circuits.

If you develop a specialism, then this is something that you can use to differentiate yourself. Standing out in a crowded fitness industry can be tough but this is a great way to do it.

Develop this skill by… Incorporating your specialist training into your own workout program and experimenting with different techniques, watching YouTube demo videos from experts, and attending a specialist CPD course (again, ACE or NASM offer the broadest range) that’ll develop your skills even more.

Skills for career progression

Think about your long-term career goals – what are you or your team member working towards? Is it becoming an expert in a particular type of fitness training, promotion to team leader or gym manager, or something else? Then create a plan for developing an skill-set or experience gaps that will be needed for this next career stage.

Some of the most common skills and areas of knowledge needed for personal trainer career progression include…

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Team management and leadership

So, identify which of these are most relevant to your career goals and then hatch a plan to develop them.

Develop this skill by… Volunteering for special projects (like running marketing campaigns), asking to shadow colleagues who work in these areas, or completing a course (like our sales and marketing).

Personal Training Sales Success [Online Course]

Implementing Personal Trainer Development Programs

Taking a proactive approach to personal trainer development is essential for your career. Whether it’s for yourself or your team, it’ll boost success, client satisfaction, and morale. If you’re a personal trainer mentor or career coach, then encouraging others to play to their strengths is an easy way to help them.

Start by identifying what you’re good at, then how you can leverage it for greater success. If you build on your natural abilities, you’ll find it much easier to develop and grow your PT superpowers.

Training & Resources For Personal Trainers

We offer ready-made templates and training that make it quicker, cheaper, and easier to promote your personal training services. Whether you’re a newly qualified PT or seasoned industry pro, these templates and training courses will save you time and effort. They’ll help you identify the most effective sales and marketing options, develop a strategy, and create the promotional materials needed to generate more revenue.

Personal Training Sales Success [Online Course]
Personal Trainer Strengths Professional Development

Caroline @ Wellness Creative Co

Qualified personal trainer (BSc Sports Science) & nutritionist (MSc Human Nutrition) with 15+ years of fitness & wellness marketing experience working with global brands.