Essential Personal Trainer Skills and How to Highlight Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Personal trainers often help guide individuals' health and fitness activities. They possess several skills that allow them to complete their essential duties relating to coaching and leading physical training sessions. Learning about personal trainer skills may help you develop into a successful personal trainer. In this article, we discuss the skills needed for a personal trainer, describe what a personal trainer is and what they do, and identify how to highlight your skills as a personal training when applying for the role.

Personal trainer skills

The fitness profession may require trainers to have diverse personal trainer skills when interacting with their clients and guiding their fitness activities. You can consider strengthening your abilities in the following areas if you are interested in working in the field:


As a personal trainer, it's important to explain complicated principles, such as correct form or muscle mass, in ways your client can understand. For example, perhaps you notice your trainee is performing a core exercise incorrectly. You explain the proper way to target those muscles and why the exercise is impactful.

Communication skills can also help you build relationships with your clients, making it easier to understand what tone and words motivate them during training sessions. With empathy, you can address their concerns without judgment. Practising patience and active listening can help you guide your client at a healthy pace. By developing positive relationships with your trainees, you can increase the likelihood of retaining them as clients and encourage them to recommend you as a trainer to the people they know.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

Technical knowledge

Technical skills can help personal trainers properly instruct trainees through fitness routines. Here are some examples of areas of technical skills that may help you as a personal trainer:

  • Nutrition: Nutritional knowledge can enable trainers to suggest food and drink items that complement their clients' exercising habits and goals.

  • Equipment: To help ensure that clients stay safe while using exercise machines, it's important for trainers to demonstrate the correct way to use weights and other equipment to minimise injuries.

  • Stretching: With knowledge of stretching techniques, instructors can show clients how to expand their muscles to increase flexibility and minimise soreness after exercising.

  • Exercises: Personal trainers who know a variety of exercises can assign routines that are specific to each client's strengths and overall fitness level.

  • First-aid training: It's important for instructors to know what to do if a trainee becomes ill or has an accident during a session.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Customer service

Customer service involves meeting the needs and expectations of trainees. Personal trainers can create surveys to measure client satisfaction, which they can use to attract new clients. They can also provide resources such as websites or online calendars to give clients easy access to appointment times and registration for services. It's important to practise professionalism in all interactions with your clients and respond to questions quickly and efficiently.

Related: What is Customer Service?

Fixing errors

As a personal trainer, you may help trainees improve their fitness levels through exercise routines. You may notice errors in your trainee's form, in which case it's important to correct them in an understanding way. It's productive to have patience when clients are new to an exercise routine.

Time management

To be a successful personal trainer, you may effectively manage your time so that you can meet all of your clients' needs and help them improve their fitness levels. Time management is a critical skill in any service-based industry. Personal trainers may balance their time between managing multiple tasks, keeping records of their trainees and keeping the fitness centre organised at all times. To complete everything in a timely manner, it's important for instructors to use their time wisely and plan each day with realistic limitations.

Read more: Time Management Skills: Definition and How to Improve

Fitness testing

Fitness testing involves measuring a trainee's fitness levels at the beginning, middle and at the end of a training session. Trainers can use testing to assess whether clients are achieving their goals and whether they're making any necessary changes. Fitness testing also helps trainers gauge how to improve their clients' abilities and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Nutritional assessment

Personal trainers use nutritional assessments to help trainees change their habits and adopt healthier dietary habits. They can create diet plans for clients with different nutritional goals, such as clients who want to gain muscle or clients who want to lose weight. Some potential dietary changes include:

  • reducing fat consumption

  • eating more fibre

  • consuming less sugar

Meal planning

Meal plans help guide personal training clients as they transition from unhealthy eating habits to healthier alternatives. Personal trainers monitor their client's meal plans to ensure they adhere to their goals and maintain a pattern of consistent eating. They may also use meal plans to set training goals and motivate their clients towards healthy lifestyles.

Coaching methods

You may use your knowledge as a personal trainer to create the best coaching method for your client. You can base their routine on their age, fitness level or other factor that may be significant to them. Being adept at coaching methods may increase customer loyalty, as customers may be more likely to have a positive personal training experience.

What is a personal trainer?

A personal trainer is a person who provides services to help people improve their fitness and overall health. It's common for personal trainers to design a program that's specifically tailored to the client's needs and goals, based on the client's current state of physical fitness, time available for working out and any previous exercise experience.

Some personal trainers may teach classes for small businesses or corporations, while others may work in gyms or health clubs. They may also coach youth sports teams and students at vocational schools. Personal trainers may also work with clients who are elite athletes or those whose jobs require intensive physical activity.

What does a personal trainer do?

Here's a list of common personal trainer job responsibilities:

  • develop and implement a fitness plan

  • educate and motivate clients

  • consult with clients on personal health and lifestyle

  • recommend proper exercise-related equipment and techniques for their clients

  • provide clients with informational material such as books or journals on the latest exercise techniques and healthy eating ideas

  • evaluate client progress to determine if or what additional training or instruction they may need

  • maintain client records that keep track of past workouts, posture measurements, weight measurements and other performance measures

  • conduct fitness assessments, such as body mass index (BMI) or body fat measurements, to determine a client's overall health and fitness level

  • provide clients with safety instructions and appropriate safety precautions for the activities in which they engage

  • recommend corrective exercises for those who have injuries or are at risk of future injury

  • schedule appointments

Highlighting personal trainer skills in a job application

For your next job as a personal trainer, you can show an employer you're qualified by describing your skills and citing specific examples of your experience in the field. Be sure to study the job posting to learn exactly what the hiring manager is seeking in a candidate. Here are ways you can highlight your personal trainer abilities during your job search:

Personal training skills for your CV

Your resume is often the first thing hiring managers read, so it's important to share specific details about your work history and skills. In the experience section, include the job titles and responsibilities that are most relevant to the job you're seeking. For example, you may list your experience using certain exercise equipment or scheduling software. In your skills section, choose specific hard and soft skills that demonstrate your knowledge in the industry, such as a fitness program certification or critical thinking abilities.

Personal training skills for your cover letter

In your cover letter, you can expand upon the skills you included in your CV and describe your dedication to fitness training. Include specific examples of fitness routines you've created for clients. You can also mention how many years of experience you have in the industry and summarise achievements you've made in that time, such as high client satisfaction ratings.

Personal training skills for the job interview

The job interview enables you to make a good impression on the hiring manager, either face-to-face or over the phone. Prepare for questions that ask about how you assess your trainees and design client-specific routines. During the interview, you can describe your personal training philosophy and explain how you have helped clients overcome challenges during their fitness journey. You can also discuss the path you took to become a fitness instructor and your specific career goals. For instance, you may mention how you want to teach fitness classes to seniors.

Explore more articles