Leadership Qualities for a Thriving Fitness Community

Mar 6, 2020

By Tim Saye

The next skill on our list every personal trainer should possess and can transfer into their marketing strategy is leadership. In this article, we'll look at it from a community-building aspect, so you understand how improving your leadership skills will help you reach more of your ideal customers.

What Does Leadership Look Like for Personal Trainers?

One of the many hidden hats personal trainers need to wear when training their clients is being an educator and a leader for them. That's true even when you work with people one-to-one, but it becomes more apparent when you run group sessions, community classes or workshops.

How do you know you're a good leader? You will demonstrate the following four traits, according to Forbes:

1. Proactivity - Actively seeking and seizing opportunities where you can display your coaching and teaching skills are crucial. Whether that's jumping on board with a health-focused offline or online event, noticing a window of opportunity when your clients talk about a mutual problem they have and build a service around that, or just actively starting conversations in the gym to find out how you can be of help.

2. Mobilisation - In this instance, I am referring to the ability to compel action in others. Whether that's successfully encouraging your audience to attend an event you organised, inspiring people to join you in helping a fellow member or a charitable cause or launching a successful lead magnet CTA (call-to-action) on your website, so your visitors download an eBook in exchange for their email address also belongs here.

3. Critical Thinking - The fitness industry is flooded with experts that promote a method or solution to a complex problem. The fitness industry is also full of fitpros and personal trainers who want to genuinely help society improve their quality of life. Many trainers report that they feel the more they learn about exercise, fitness, nutrition and lifestyle, the less they know. If that's you, congrats! You are already a critical thinker.
It's normal to feel that way when you're not set in your systems, and you're willing and open to learning to be able to help your clients better. Being aware of the areas where you may not be as objective as you think you should be, and asking for input from others to help you keep the balance is a definite sign of being a good leader.

4. Communication - Last week, we listed a few tips on how to be an excellent communicator for marketing success. A successful leader is confident in their communication, may that be verbal, non-verbal, in-person or online and understand when they need to listen and when to speak to achieve the goals of a specific interaction.

How to Apply Your Leadership Skills to Build an Engaging Audience?

For trainers who'd like to create a successful personal training business, becoming social and approachable is paramount. Whether you run your business offline, partly or wholly online, the methods of building a community around your fitness brand will be the same. Here are three tips for doing just that!

Tip #1. Be There First

Quite often, opportunities knock on your door, and it's essential to react fast. Other times you need to be the one taking the initiative if you'd like to be the first to provide something no others have done in the past.

Example 1.: Some of your 1:1 clients need a way to increase their aerobic training during the winter months on top of their PT sessions with you, but they are not keen on joining a gym. The weather doesn't allow them to exercise outdoors. 

You can do nothing, or you can approach an independent studio or venue in the area and launch an exercise class aimed at that specific goal. You don't only solve a mutual problem of a group of people, but you create an environment when they can become social and start acting like a community.

Tip #2. Be an Insider!

So, you've created a community forum, but you feel there are no interactions happening? Whether it's on your website or within a Facebook group, you need to be within the community to be able to engage and mobilize the members. Think of yourself as the leader who will become the example for the members. If you are quiet, they'll likely be too.

Example 2.: You launch a weekly Q&A webinar, podcast or blog that answers common questions you get asked, which is excellent! You can even create a closed community to host it all and encourage your clients to invite their friends and family. Then you let them to it.

If you'd like people to stay active and engage within the group, you'll need to keep an eye on posts, comments and questions, answer them to the best of your knowledge, spark and keep conversations going. You may be the creator and the leader of the community, but you also need to be part of it. You are the reason your clients joined, so don't be an outsider! 

Tip #3. Stay Open to Feedback

Remember that everybody is different so you may receive comments of varied opinion on your content and that's ok. Not everybody will be compatible with your style or at a level to take in what you have to say. However, if several people from your audience, especially members you trust contact you with the same feedback, you probably want to at least listen to them.

Example 3.: You publish an article on a topic without realising you missed an important aspect, made a mistake or failed to consider a vital research result. People who trust you and care about you will provide you with constructive criticism when that happens.

It may not feel good at first but stay open and check if their concerns have a basis and if they do, don't hesitate to admit your mistake and make it right.