Amber Long by Amber Long

Beginning your career in fitness can be both exciting and daunting, all at the same time. Information is constantly changing, products and technologies are always moving forward and, as a whole, the field is continuously evolving. Health and fitness professionals who evolve with it are most likely to succeed, while those who don’t are likely to struggle. Avoiding the following common mistakes is a great way to help ensure your success as a health and fitness professional.

1. Aggressive self-promotion

Many people enter the fitness and wellness field because they enjoy participating in fitness activities. This is a fine way to begin a career, but new professionals quickly realize that working in this profession requires a passion for helping and focusing on others. The successful pro understands that the client is the focus of each and every session. Make it a point to keep daily conversation directed toward the client’s exercise program rather than your own. Celebrate their successes instead of boasting about your progress. Also consider your use of social media. Any information you post is a reflection of you as a professional. Make certain that the information you post is credible, and deliver evidence that you are a trustworthy and professional resource. Provide information or videos to enhance the knowledge of clients and friends. They want to know how to better themselves, rather than watch your personal fitness journey. In general, if you represent an organization, make your promotion efforts about the company rather than yourself. These things are noticed by managers and other professionals. Business leaders look for people who promote the organization as a whole and act as a team player.

2. Wasting continuing education

NCCA-accredited organizations require fitness professionals acquire periodic education to stay abreast on new research and methods. Some health and fitness pros, however, will wait until the last month to quickly meet these requirements, rushing to frantically complete online courses. Successful health and fitness professionals understand that learning is the key to staying current and valid in the field. As a new professional, cast a wide net for education and soak up as much as you can. As you become more experienced, look for more niche-specific education. Space out your education over time to boost your professional inspiration and disperse the financial impact. Make sure you understand the continuing-education requirements for your organization, and select courses or materials that will qualify. Maintain accurate records of all trainings so you are ready to submit information or present records in case you are audited. Put new information or techniques to practice within a week of taking the course to help it stick. Continuing education is one of the best ways to constantly improve, enhance your career and network with like-minded people.

3. Criticizing others

Approximately 79 percent of the population does not meet minimum recommendations for physical activity. There are plenty of people for every trainer, instructor and club. We are all on the same team, each fighting to help people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. Successful pros understand the need to develop a collaborative network of other fitness and wellness professionals. There are many methods of exercise and each individual will be drawn to the method that fits him or her best. Successful health and fitness pros create a client-first environment, utilizing many tools to fit the needs of each individual. Make it a point to learn about all the programs and services offered at your facility. The ability to refer a client to another professional breaks down the fear barrier and makes it easier to try something new. As the industry grows, it is equally important to be able to refer clients to appropriate healthcare providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors and general practice physicians. Establish relationships with providers in your community and you will likely see them refer people to you in return. Lastly, there may be relationships with clients that are not a good fit with you. If this is the case, there is no shame in referring a client to another class or professional. The ability to refer clients to others will improve your credibility and demonstrate that you are focused on their overall health, rather than your ego or paycheck.

Success is a subjective term. It means something different for each and every person. With that said, remaining current on industry trends, making your clients your primary priorities, and respecting others in the field are great ways to elevate yourself as a credible and successful health and fitness professional.