Whether you are learning about exercise physiology and the Kreb Cycle or trying to figure out how to build a website so you can market your personal training business online, it takes time to develop new skills.
Personal training can be very focused and one dimensional. The cheapest and most applicable way you can broaden your knowledge base is by volunteering your time or interning. It can be difficult to pull the trigger at first considering an internship typically doesn’t offer money. But the overall benefit is exponential.
Other valuable forms of compensation include learning new techniques from practitioners, acquiring continued education units, and increasing your professional network. All of these variables will help grow your business and inevitably your income. It just takes a bit of tenacity and work ethic.
Locking down the perfect internship
Sometimes it can seem overwhelming what specializations to pick, so start with what genuinely interests you. The most efficient way to download expert knowledge as quick as possible is to learn from the expert. It’s as easy as researching well known practitioners in your local area and introducing yourself.
These are the steps that will help land your next personal training internship (they worked for me at least).
- Print off your resume. If you don’t have one, here are some templates.
- Google search all of your local physical therapists, athletic trainers, dietitians, etc. and drop them in this spreadsheet I made for you.
- Prioritize and pick your top 5 practitioners.
- Drop off your resume to each practitioner or their assistant and mention you will follow up in a few days (don’t forget to grab their card).
- Go home and send each person you visited a thank you email with your resume attached.
Regardless if you have a piece of paper that certifies you for studying a book, the most efficient way to learn best practices about any subject is to get a mentor. I am not implying that you have to go to lunch with a someone twice a week and take notes, rather volunteering your time in their environment to gain an understanding of their overall approach.
I guarantee you will learn more applicable skills in a semester’s time actively learning than listening to any online video or lecture. Also, you will have developed a relationship with a professional that you can recommend clients to and vice versa.
The immediate benefit to your existing client base
After the first few days of your new mentorship you will already have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to take back your client base. You might notice that your clients will value their time with you more because you are investing in your time outside of personal training.
If you are continuously taking action and seeking out ways to become a well-rounded trainer that can teach the athlete, average joe, and diabetic you have just opened up your market. Although it can be nice having a niche and being the guy who knows the “in’s and out’s” of one specific area of personal training, being equipped with multiple tools and techniques will help acquire and retain clients more effectively.
Remember you don’t have to be an expert, the average person doesn’t want to hear the science rather believe you know what you are talking about and can improve the way they look and feel.
Leverage new skills and grow your professional career
You probably already know that legitimate personal training certifications require continued education units or additional testing to stay certified. Not to mention graduate programs in athletic training, strength and conditioning, or physical therapy require hours upon applying.
Being required to do something doesn’t mean that you are actually invested in the subject-matter. Whether or not you need the units or hours, expanding your professional horizons will compensate you more than just building new knowledge.
For example, if you’re a personal trainer that just got offered an internship at a collegiate strength and conditioning department, a realistic benefit is that you can use the experience of working with teams to market small group training classes as well as individually “coach-up” athletes comfortably.
There are infinite benefits, but will you actually go for it? Let me put it this way:
Simply put, get out of your comfort zone and take the necessary steps to progress your career. The first time you put yourself out there it will be a bit be nerve-racking, but each time gets easier and easier.
So why did I just spend the last 700ish words trying to convince you to find an internship or mentor? It doesn’t matter if you are a rookie trainer or 20 year vet, increasing your knowledge base and professional network will only help you and your business grow. Take “Jill” for example:
- Jill is a personal trainer that is interested in developing a new skill-set and wants to be applicable to a broader market of clients as well as needs to build her resume and maintain certifications.
- She decides to walk into a physical therapy clinic and leave her resume with the lead therapist on staff.
- Because Jill followed up twice in ten days, persistence landed her a volunteer gig at 8 hours/ week.
- After 12 weeks she actually signed two clients from the physical therapy clinic, and was able to use 96 hours of internship time to apply for Physical Therapy school.
- Not to mention, Jill now better understands the stabilization phase of NASM’s Optimal Performance Training model and can use prehab techniques to teach her clients how to build a stronger functional kinetic chain.
It’s a win, win. Assuming you can communicate professionally and put effort in the work, you will walk away with a hand full of contacts, new skills, and potential income.
It might feel uncomfortable taking the leap, but just remember if you are volunteering your time you have the opportunity to contribute as much as you want. So get a little uncomfortable, learn some new shit, and move your training career forward.