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

The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Professional in the Fitness Industry | Mollie Martin | Exam Preparation Blog | 8/8/2014


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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.


  • 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!


  • 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.