Anyone who tells you different hasn’t been in the industry long, at all or is just ignorant to human nature. As people we gravitate to the things that relate to us. Whether it is a goal that we have set for ourselves to how we choose the people we hang out with or the job we have that supports the kind of lifestyle we want to have.
In the fitness field looking the part matters. Reading this there might be some scrunched up eyebrows and frowns, but in truth that’s a very very general statement.
Way back when, I had a coworker who was a tall guy. Built like a lineman who no longer played football. Because. He was.
Smart as hell too. At the time he was getting his masters in Exercise Science, had 2 kids and worked part time as a trainer with a full-time job elsewhere. Sure he didn’t workout much, but did what he could given he also had bad knees from his old glory days as a starting lineman.
A member at the gym sheepishly says to me close by “I wouldn’t want him as a trainer. He doesn’t even look like a trainer!”
Was it a bit of a rude statement? Yes.
Were they right? Yes.
Because to them, he was not an example of someone who would understand HOW to get to where they wanted to be.
If you’re an aspiring Powerlifter, you’re naturally going to want to seek out someone who is proficient in coaching Powerlifting. More than that, you’ll likely want someone who has been/currently is a Powerlifter. Same thing with a wrestling coach or a perhaps a golf coach.
In the world of Personal Training, the general population want to look and feel better. They want to hire people that has experience doing this. It seems like it’d be that simple
Though we have to be real about this fact: In a lineup of fitness coaches, if you were to choose one based off of how a coach looked, from how they dressed to level of their physical fitness, you’d choose the one the looks the MOST “fit”. By that I mean they pass the eye test; with no regard for whether or not you think they’d be a total asshole or has a PH.D. in BroScience.
Again, we tend to gravitate towards the people whom we can relate to whether or not we can currently fit in or want to be associated with them so we can eventually fit in. Remember back in high school when you sat at the same table with friends who were just like you? You probably see this at work too.
You probably get along with coworkers who have kids because you have kids.
Or a Siamese fighting fish.
As a trainer, when you begin to understand this it becomes all the more important to work on yourself as a marketing tool. More important than that, you’ll need to know WHO you want to market to.
Because being physically FIT doesn’t mean you’re going to get all the clients you can handle. In my experience watching the evolution of the fitness industry, more and more people are wanting to work with people that either look like them or look similar to where they want to be. I know it doesn’t sound any different from what I’ve been saying so I’ll explain further.
My coworker, the former football player, had a good amount of clients who were built like HIM. Today we call his body type “the dad bod”; a bit softer, not too muscular, beer belly, relatively small legs in comparison to the rest of the body. You get the idea.
These guys gravitate towards him because that’s where he was at the time. So his clients felt like he UNDERSTOOD them where they were at. Which is the underlying key here:
Lot’s of coaches and trainers think they can get by with their “looks” but the fact of the matter is if you have no personality or show that you care about your clients they’ll eventually leave because of that. It’s that simple.
I had a client who told me to my face that my “body was made of granite” and that I “looked like a superhero”…while standing next to his wife.
Was he scared? No. Was I physically intimidating? Sure.
And yet we spent to years training together because I knew how to connect with him other than me standing there looking pretty.
I know people who have changed their lives through fitness and very soon became a fit pro themselves because they felt compelled to help others once they had a breakthrough. It didn’t matter whether or not they were actual good movement coaches or that they looked like they lost a lot of body fat.
The basic level of training they got was good enough for their clients right away because there were people who knew their history of struggle. These trainers could have been 20, 30, 40lbs overweight. To their demographic, they were the perfect coach. They wanted someone who didn’t make them feel like they were being “judged”.
Now there are plenty of coaches who look physically “fit” and have clients who don’t look like them and have great success. This happens because once the trainer got to know who their client is as a person, a human being, they didn’t pose as a threat.
As a coach, if you’re seen as a threat, you won’t be approached by someone who could benefit from your resources and knowledge. So, “looking the part” is more than wearing clothing that makes you look like a greek god or being able to lift massive amounts of weight.
In the 21st Century, you must have a digital look or image that is favorable to your audience. What you do, what you say, who you support. This all factors in how you look to people. Like training, consistency is key.
End of the day, knowing yourself. Being true to yourself and being able to connect with whoever you’re coaching is what makes a successful coach. So don’t just rest your “looking the part” idea to get ahead in the fitness business.
Focus on BEING the part.