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August 8, 2014, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Professional in the Fitness Industry

Personal trainer

Professionalism is every bit as important in the fitness industry as it is in any industry—both inside and outside the gym or training setting. To get a better understanding for what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to professionalism, I asked some of our very own ACE fitness professionals here at our headquarters to share their dos and don’ts based on their personal experiences.

DO… 

  • Get professional pictures taken of yourself for marketing and profiles.
  • Take care of your personal hygiene.
  • Follow client confidentiality guidelines used in healthcare (e.g., HIPAA). Always keep your client’s health information PRIVATE—this is extremely important.
  • Determine the most appropriate assessments for each client based on his or her unique health, fitness and goals.
  • Listen actively and understand what your client is telling you.
  • Focus first and foremost on providing positive, engaging experiences that make clients want to come back. Remember, the most effective exercise program for a client is the one that he or she will actually DO on a regular basis.
  • Give clients your FULL attention during training sessions and classes—put your phone away.
  • Develop your knowledge and skills to position yourself as an exercise professional within the healthcare continuum.
  • STAY WITHIN YOUR SCOPE OF PRACTICE and understand what this means to you legally.
  • Take continuing education courses to improve your knowledge and skills, not just to renew your certification.
  • Always remember that the workout is for the client and/or class.
  • Be respectful of everyone using the fitness facility or outdoor space where you are training by keeping your equipment organized and out of the way.                                                                                              
  • Keep you undergarments hidden; your clients don’t want to see your underwear.
  • Arrive to class or training sessions early so you can prepare and get organized.
  • Be aware of newcomers and tell them it is okay to go at their own pace.
  • Have separate social media accounts for your business and personal needs.
  • Remember you are ALWAYS marketing and creating a profile of yourself—at work, online, at the gym or out on the town.
  • Be respectful and polite to other fitness professionals—they are trying to help people with their goals just like you are!

DON’T…

  • Use a bathroom selfie as your profile picture.
  • Conduct all of the same assessments with every client.
  • Train every client the same way. Each program plan should be customized for your client’s goals.
  • Talk more than you listen. The “person” in personal training is the client you are serving.
  • Post information about clients on websites, social media or in newsletters without their written consent.
  • Focus a client’s entire program on the technical aspects of the workout (e.g., sets, repetitions, exercises, intensities).
  • Ever stop learning. Our industry is evolving quickly and the prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity and related health complications are at an all-time high and rising.
  • Think of continuing education simply as a requirement for certification renewal.
  • Use a training session or class as YOUR workout.
  • Litter a fitness facility or open space with your exercise equipment.
  • Assume clients/members know your lingo. Be precise when giving instructions and always demonstrate.
  • Linger after group classes or training sessions if another instructor or trainer is trying to set up.
  • Call someone out for doing something wrong. Give corrective cues to the whole class or walk up to client and provide one-on-one assistance.

By Mollie Martin


Mollie is a Study Assistance Consultant at the American Council on Exercise who holds a BS in Psychology. She is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach and Sports Conditioning Specialist, as well as a boot camp instructor, rugby player and fitness enthusiast. Mollie moved to San Diego from the Midwest in 2012 to pursue her passion of playing rugby and to be able to participate in outdoor fitness year-round.

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