Am I too old to be a personal trainer? That was the question asked by someone at a fitness website I like to frequent. It’s a good question and one I've heard before from others who decide to be get into the business, later, after they have already worked in another field and decide they want to change careers. Let's discuss this issue of “older personal trainers” for a moment in case you too have been wondering about it also. After this, also see my post How To Be a Personal Trainer.
The woman who asked the original question that got me thinking about all of this was 30. While to some, 30 may seem “old” it’s really not – and its definitely not too old to be a personal trainer. In 1999 the average age of a personal fitness trainer was 38! While I've had trouble finding more up to date statistics on the age of personal trainers, I really do feel its still in the 30s.
Even if I am wrong and the average age of a fitness trainer is younger, it doesn't matter. Here’s why:
When people hire a personal trainer, I have it on good authority that they often don’t take serious the younger trainers. People in their 40s – and above – often look at a 20 something personal trainer and say “what can you teach me?” or “How can I relate to this person?”.
Younger trainers are actually discriminated against because of their age!
It’s this reverse age discrimination that actually hurts younger trainers – especially those in their early 20s.
Someone in their 40s (or above) usually prefers a fitness trainer who has had some life experiences. That’s someone at least in their 30s.
I know this is true because several people have told me this! I remember one client telling me “you were more mature” than the other trainers. I don’t know whether that meant I was “old” but, it got me a client!
So, all things being equal, people who are “older” are more likely to choose a personal trainer who more closely parallels their own life experiences and wisdom. This usually only comes with age.
So what does that mean for the younger trainers? Personal trainers who are younger – esp those in their early 20s (and who act it!) have to work a extra hard to gain the trust of people. Fortunately there are some pretty easy ways to do this and all boils down to one thing – Be professional.
Fitness Trainers who are professional in public are judged to be smarter than trainers who bounce around the gym wearing skimpy clothes or who only talk about how much they can bench press.
So how can a fitness trainer be professional? Here are several easy ways:
- Wear the gyms staff uniform. I've been in many gyms where the club trainers wear almost anything they like! This sends a bad message to club members.
- Another thing is not working out while wearing the gym uniform. When members see a personal trainer working out while wearing the gym staff shirt, it confuses the members. They don’t know if you are on your own time working out or if you are actually “working”.
- Nothing says “I'm professional” more than staying educated. Personal trainers are so hung up on being “certified” that they never become “qualified”. That fitness cert will not help you keep a client if you don’t know what you are doing. People who hire personal trainers are smart. They know when you are faking it.
That’s why I always recommend my book, Personal Fitness Training Beyond The Basics. If you know what is in my book, you are light-years ahead of most other “certified personal trainers.” I guarantee it.
- If your clients email you, you need to have a professional email address. The email address should either be your name or your company name (if you’re self employed) or be easy to spell. If your email is “fitness-bombshell 38DD” at AOL .com, that’s not a professional email.
Speaking of AOL, if you use that service and have information about yourself in the AOL Member Directory, remove anything in the directory that might be considered pornographic or risque. In the past I have gotten clients from the AOL directory because I was the only guy who had a “sane AOL profile”. In the past, I've noticed that most people on AOL who list themselves as “personal trainers” put all sorts of stupid sexual stuff the AOL Member Directory. They are idiots and I would never hire them.
- Don’t use bad language in the club or where other members can hear you. I biked to my local LA Fitness recently and overheard one of the fitness instructors cursing at somebody in her cell phone. Totally unprofessional!
- The same thing goes for cell phone messages. Speak clearly and be concise. A good phone message might be “Hi this is Bob. I can’t come to the phone now. Please leave a message and I will call you back promptly.”
If on the other hand, your message stars with “Yo Yo Yo”, then that’s not good…
These small changes can go a long way to making a personal trainer seem more professional to perspective clients – no matter what their age.
So, if you are considering becoming a personal trainer, I say go for it because odds are you will run rings around many of the younger trainers I see working in gyms.
What do you think?