Top 9 Personal Trainer Mistakes

A client journey in personal training from an instructor’s perspective can be divided into three major stages: Attraction (trial session), Conversion(first payment), and Live time. The internet is full of articles devoted to the methods and strategies of attracting clients and promoting the instructor's personal brand. But while finding clients may seem like the most important challenge facing personal trainers, especially those just starting out in the profession, building long-term relationships with each client has much greater implications for your career, credibility, income, and workload. The goal of any personal trainer should be to extend the third stage of their relationship with a client for as long as possible.

We have compiled a list of mistakes made by personal trainers at different stages of the client journey that result in the clients’ unhappiness and lack of motivation (if not injury). If you know what to look out for and learn to correct the mistakes you found, your clients will stay and train with you for longer, they will share your contact details with others, and your income and workload will steady out, providing the much needed job security.

Mistakes That Affect Conversion Rates

While finding new clients is very important, converting those who come out for a trial session or give you the benefit of a doubt to stick with you for a month into long-term paying customers is essential. Here are the mistakes that hamper your conversion efforts:

1. Insufficient assessment at the start of training and in-between stages

Your first meeting with a prospective customer should be assessment: assessment of their needs, problems, and abilities. It is not enough to run your client through a basic set of exercises: you need to get their full medical history, run an in-depth assessment of physical strength and endurance, and have a good chat to assess their goals. Asking “What is your goal?” is not enough.

You should study the techniques used for goal setting and be able to choose the right one and adopt it for your client. Also, a basic assessment before drafting a training plan is a must. Here you can find a good starting point for creating the test for your clients in the form of exercises for postural assessment, movement analysis, and flexibility assessment.

Another common mistake is skipping the assessments between training program’s stages. When a stage of your program is completed, an assessment is a must. It will enable you to see whether the client is demonstrating progress, whether the client is over-taxed, and how the program should be corrected. Unfortunately, many personal trainers delay this assessment until the client comes in to say that they see no results and want to quit.

2. The all-around approach

An attempt to simultaneously train a person to be strong, resilient, dexterous, and flexible, while also losing belly fat and working on a six-pack, is bound to end in disaster. Such an approach can be overwhelming and easily lead to a lack of progress or even a burnout. Trying to accomplish too much at once can make it difficult to measure the client’s progress or determine which goals are the most important. Achieving success in training requires consistency and discipline most of all, and focusing on too many goals with no visible results can seriously hamper both. In terms of motivation, two weeks of all-around training with no visible results are worse than two weeks spent focusing on one area where results will be much more pronounced.

3. Constant focus on new customers

Yes, finding new clients is important, we get it. But your current and prospective clients (those who came for an assessment and/or trial session) are just as essential and valuable. Customer development includes customer follow-up, so you have to make sure to stay in contact with each of the people who expressed an interest in working out with you. If a person came to a trial session, get in touch on the same day to thank them for an opportunity and to try and get some commitment for the future. Be polite and respectful and know when to stop, but don’t ghost a person after they made an effort.

4. Lack of self-presentation and self-promotion skills

Completing a course (or even several courses) in the discipline of personal training is not enough in itself, if you want to make personal training your (new) career. Your services won’t sell themselves just because you post on social media that you are now a personal trainer. A good course would offer at least a few academic hours in the discipline of marketing, but such offerings are a rarity.

To attract and retain clients you have to know how to present yourself, how to segment an audience, how to choose your specific audience and learn what’s important to them. There are different platforms for attracting clients, and you should learn about that as well. Whether you are selling yourself to a fitness center or a private club, you have to have a value proposition, something that makes you stand out and promises a good return on investment.

Mistakes That Affect Life Time Value (LTV) of the Client

You want your clients to form long-lasting relationships with you as the presence of several stable customers gives you the job security you need and cuts down your costs on customer acquisition and retention. Establishing a working relationship that’s beneficial to the client will help you acquire new customers through word of mouth. But to retain clients you must keep their motivation up through a training program that shows clear progress and results. Achieving this goal can be hampered by the following mistakes:

5. Lack of Planning in Personal Training

Every meeting with a client must be planned carefully because an  unplanned session is a wasted session. As the mistakes pile up, clients lose motivation or retain motivation, but simply lose respect for you as their personal trainer and start looking for someone more professional. Losing a client under such circumstances means actually losing at least two, because you also lose some future customer who may have come to you by recommendation.

6. Incorrectly Selected Load 

In order to improve the training effect, we must adhere to the scientific principle of progressive increasing the load and paying attention to the delicate balance between resting and exercise. Choosing the right load is what helps you to keep clients motivated: it must be hard enough to engender the sense of victory upon completion, but at the same time doable for the client at their current level.

7. Focus on Attracting New Customers

It is common for a personal trainer to focus on a client in the first few weeks, investing time in supporting them at the start of the journey. But as the weeks pass, it is also common for the trainer to switch their attention to the new customers or customer acquisition.

Every customer deserves an equal share of your time and attention. Clients are very sensitive to such changes in their instructor’s behaviour and once they see you distance yourself, there’s a high probability they will bolt for the door, leaving you with all the free time on your hands to focus on those new clients and relive the cycle.

If you want them to remain your paying customers, invest your time in tracking their progress, their results, and their motivation – and adjusting the training program accordingly.

8. Train Every Client the Same Way

You might have your favourite set of exercises or may think that everyone should do X, Y, and Z – but every person is different and if you attempt to train every client with complete disregard for their ability, endurance, and even goals, you will soon find yourself short of those clients. Each client that trusts you to instruct them on the best ways to train deserves your individual attention and an individual program tailored to their needs and wants.

9. Forcing Your Opinion On Clients

There is often a pronounced disconnect between what a personal trainer thinks their clients want and what those clients actually want. This disconnect, which stems from the lack of initial assessment of the client’s goals in a course of an actual conversation, leads to a situation when a personal trainer sets the wrong priorities for their clients’ training and often overwhelms them.

It’s important to take the client’s individual needs and preferences into account when designing training programs. Doing otherwise and forcing the instructor’s own opinions on the client can be detrimental to their progress and wellbeing. Listening to your clients and working with them is the only way to help them achieve their goals.


Being a personal trainer can be a rewarding job because if you do it right, you help others improve their health and fitness and see the positive impact of your work on their lives. It can also be very difficult to succeed as a personal trainer because the fitness industry is highly competitive, with many instructors offering similar services. Abe Health is here to help you find a way to stand out from the crowd while really helping your clients.