During my more than 25 years as a professional Trainer I have been approached uncountable times by newbie personal trainers wanting to know how they can get their business off the ground. I always welcome these conversations. I love meeting new personal trainers who are so excited they appear to be jumping out of their skin.

I think many times they are seeking specific business advice: “Put exactly 23 flyers next to the Powerade. Hang up 17 posters in the windows of local business.”

The fact is – that advice isn’t the most valuable.

Let me share five points from my experience in the fitness industry that are must-haves for success in this business.


You can’t create a cookie cutter business and be successful as a personal Trainer. Every person is different. Everyone is a new face with new wants, new needs and different motivations. Listen to them. Design a fitness program that correlates with their physical abilities and emotional barriers.


Go talk to people. If you can’t talk to people – you may need to find a different career path. When someone walks into the gym they are usually uncomfortable. They see everyone working out and “fitting in” and aren’t sure where to start. Many times their inhibitions will keep them from approaching you. Say hello first. Be the one who makes them feel comfortable; the one who gives them that extra push to keep coming back. They will never forget the first person they talked to at the new gym. It’s like being a kid at a new school – you never forget the first kid who said, “Hi. Want to sit at our table?”


Everything you do today will affect you tomorrow. In just a few days I will be having foot surgery. I have passed on a person’s name and number for my clients to call during the time that I will be healing. Many of my clients said, “No thank you.” They didn’t want to go train with anyone else. Now, is this because I’m just the greatest personal trainer in the world?  Possibly not! It’s because I’ve been there for them through their ups and downs. I am not just their trainer – I am their friend. I am their motivator; their supporter. I have proven my character to them time and again and have shown I will always be here for them. And, they have done the same for me. They have shown me their loyalty


You must have self confidence. There is not a secret formula to acquire and maintain success as a personal trainer. You need to be sincere. You need to have the physical appearance that you have accomplished much. You need to have the attitude that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, and that your clients can do the same. Money does not fall out of the sky. You have to realize and accept it takes hard work to get started as a personal trainer. You have to be willing to put in the time. You got to love it.


Get certified. If it is between hiring you and someone who is certified – you’re going to be out of luck. But, let’s say you do get certified. You still have to distance yourself from your peers.  Spend the money, be a master trainer. I’m the only master trainer in Galveston, Texas and I am seeing the benefits.

What other qualities must a good personal trainer have?

Bill McGinnis

Bill McGinnis is an NFPT Master Fitness Trainer. He lives and trains in Galveston, Texas and works at the University of Texas Medical Branch Alumni Field House. Bill previously served at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, an internationally acclaimed rehab facility for substance abusers and persons with eating disorders, as The Men’s Fitness Trainer where he oversaw training groups of 25 to 50 people.
Bill has studied, trained and earned his certification from NFPT, National Federation of Professional, and NFPT Master Fitness Trainer, in 2007.

Bill began personal training in 1989 and has trained, and/or, counseled more than 4,300 people towards improving their levels of fitness. He also played college baseball. Served in the United States Air Force and was accepted into the PGA Apprentice Program in 1997 to become a professional golfer.