5 Essential Non-Training Skills for Personal Trainers

Getting Started

Feb 9, 2022

By Tim Saye

With more and more individuals seeking a personalised training experience, 1-2-1 coaching has seen an enormous uptake in recent years. There are almost 60,000 personal trainers in the UKalone. Personal trainers can take several non-training specific courses to upskill and differentiate themselves from the competition in this competitive sector. Self-development for personal trainers is an essential part of running a successful fitness business.

This guide will review 5 skills for personal trainers that don't focus on training customers. Read on to find out how to bring even more value to your clients.

#1. Nutrition

Many clients seek help from a personal trainer as part of a general drive to increase their fitness and health. Nutrition expertise is an excellent asset to any personal trainer's portfolio. Nutrition advice can transform your offering from training sessions into a comprehensive fitness package for your clients. 

Why Is It Important?
Nutrition plays a vital part in recovering from training. Studies support that carbohydrates and proteins aid muscle recovery by helping the body rebuild its supply of glucose. It also helps strengthen muscle and skeletal structure, to minimise the recovery time after training. A good nutrition strategy can augment your training sessions to help clients build strength, endurance and resilience.

Nutrition also helps with energy management to ensure that your client's body can perform its daily functions, including their workouts. Links show that a good nutrition plan can improve mental and physical health by providing the body with the necessary macro and micronutrients needed for hormonal, cognitive and metabolic function. It can help your clients achieve their personal fitness goals, including body recomposition, weight loss, building muscle or improving athletic or everyday performance.

Learning about nutrition and advising people can allow you to offer a value-added element to your training plan. Clients will be happier as they are more likely to achieve their fitness goals with a balanced diet. You'll also find you're able to charge more for this extra expertise.

How Does It Help A Personal Trainer?
As well as the financial benefits for your business and the physical benefits for your clients, a nutrition strategy can also help a personal trainer in many ways, including:
- Being able to apply it to your diet and training.
- Spotting where clients can improve their diet and achieve their goals.
- Increasing credibility as an expert in the field.
- Forming part of a broader wellbeing and lifestyle package.

Where Can You Learn It?
There are plenty of ways to learn about nutrition for personal trainers. The best learning path for you will be the one that fits the purpose of you wanting to acquire nutrition knowledge. If you'd like to provide in-depth nutrition coaching to your clients, you're better looking at completing a nutrition coaching course that will qualify you in the field. 

The range of courses available are vast, but based on feedback from personal trainers, Mac-Nutrition Uni is the top course for gaining knowledge and understanding nutrition research methods. At the same time, Precision Nutrition is excellent in teaching you how to develop coaching skills and help clients through habit coaching and behaviour change. Both are excellent courses.

#2. Lifestyle Coaching

The general population clients looking to lose weight, get more active and achieve a better quality of life might hire a personal trainer to help them with nutrition and workouts. Still, they will also need to address behaviour change to succeed in gaining lifelong results. They might not realise this, though, so you will need the skills to help them through that change. Lifestyle coaching is an excellent skill to include in your personal trainer resume.

Why Is It Important?
Lifestyle coaching helps your clients take responsibility for their actions, including their commitment to fitness and health goals. Often with fitness, there are other lifestyle factors at bay, like self-sabotage, time-poor lifestyles, and even things like stress-eating. This can derail even the best training plans as individuals find it hard to kick unhelpful ways of thinking.

A personal trainer offering a lifestyle coaching element to their services can provide a comprehensive package that includes nutrition, physical fitness and mental wellbeing. You can help clients plan better, establish boundaries, and achieve their goals. 

How Does It Help A Personal trainer?
Lifestyle coaching can help personal trainers:
- Develop a better understanding of blockers to a client's fitness and health goals.
- Help with the overall success of your clients training programmes and sessions.
- Create more tailored training plans to suit your customer needs.
- Lead to better client satisfaction and referrals.
- Create a closer relationship with your clients.

Where Can You Learn It?
If you'd like to add lifestyle coaching to your qualifications, finding a course that suits your needs is paramount. Luckily, fitness course providers have recognised that life coaching could be an excellent skill for personal trainers, so you will find them available from Train Fitness, NASM and a combined L4 Diploma in Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching by the Institute of Health Sciences.

#3. Musculoskeletal Pain Management

According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 1.71 billion people have some sort of musculoskeletal issues worldwide, out of which lower back pain is the most prevalent. As a personal trainer, you'll train clients who have either developed or potentially will develop an injury, a niggle or might live with chronic lower back pain due to sedentary lifestyles. 

Why Is It Important?
musculoskeletal pain affects a significant percentage of the population. Symptoms can be improved through appropriate physical activity and lifestyle changes. Musculoskeletal pain also needs tailored fitness plans to avoid exacerbating existing conditions. An inactive lifestyle with low activity levels is one of the leading causes of musculoskeletal pain.

How Does It Help A Personal Trainer?
A personal trainer able to understand and recognise musculoskeletal pain and its implications can enhance their services by:
- Being able to refer clients to therapists and doctors.
- Tailoring training plans to help clients with musculoskeletal conditions.
- Ensuring clients remain pain-free and do not incur injuries.
- Offering added value to lifestyle and nutrition packages.

Where Can You Learn It?
Like with other skills, there're different types of learning pathways depending on your goals. If helping clients with lower back pain specifically, the OriGym L4 Lower Back Pain Course might be ideal for you. If you'd like to learn strategies to help people with a range of joint mobility and injury prevention, the Premier Global NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist course will get you there. 

If you genuinely would like to understand pain itself and acquire the knowledge on how to help clients manage their pain or maybe you work in a clinical environment with therapists and health professionals, an MSc in Pain Management might be for you.

#4. Marketing

Marketing strategies are a vital tool for sourcing clients, building your business and increasing your reputation. You can be the most experienced, skilled and knowledgeable trainer in your field, but if you cannot market your services to your ideal clients, you will struggle to run a successful business and help your clients. 

Why Is It Important?
Without marketing, you have no business. Digital marketing will give you first-hand advice on how to reach your target demographic through learning how to leverage social media platforms and rank higher on search engines. Marketing is essential to raising your business profile and growing it over time. With the growth of the online fitness scene, trainers need to become better at marketing themselves online.

How Does It Help A Personal trainer?
Marketing can help you stand out ahead of the competition in many different ways:
- Create a brand and strong USP that marks you out over the competition.
- Help you convert website traffic to clients.
- Let you engage your clients with carefully curated content on your site.
- Manage a social media presence that helps increase brand visibility.
- Set you up as a source of authority on personal training.
- Increase your sales and help you grow your business.

Where Can You Learn It?
There are many online resources where you can develop your marketing skills. The PT Distinction Online University offers the Sales and Marketing for The Online Trainer course for aspiring online personal trainers. The Institute of Personal Trainers offers a Marketing Fundamentals Course and separate courses for different marketing channels, including Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Search Engine Optimisation. You can also check online course platforms like Coursera and Udemy for relevant courses for your needs.

#5. Financial Literacy

Your personal training business's financial health depends on your ability to handle money. Understanding money is a vital part of creating a sustainable and profitable venture.

Why Is It Important?
Understanding money is essential when looking to grow your business, increase your profits, and invest in yourself. You need to be able to develop your skills, grow your client base, and manage your money to ensure that you're able to survive in the earliest stages of your business.

How Does It Help A Personal Trainer?
Understanding money helps both you as a personal trainer and your business by:
- Allowing to understand clients with stress due to financial issues.
- Creating a sustainable and profitable business.
- Giving yourself room to invest in further training and development.
- Having a reserve fund to protect against unforeseen circumstances.

Where Can I Learn It?
Many materials and courses offer the chance for you to learn about money. The Institute of Personal Trainers offers a Finance for Personal Trainers course for its members. You can also find courses and resources on finance for small businesses on LinkedIn and Udemy.


Upskilling in nutrition, pain management, and life coaching can ensure your clients get the most out of their PT programs. There are also several financial and marketing courses to enhance your skills as an entrepreneur. Taking the chance to develop your skills can help you stand out from the competition and see your business grow. Education for personal trainers is a regular part of keeping on top of the latest specialisms surrounding personal training.