Personal Trainer Skills List and Examples

male personal trainer training a woman doing plank exercise
••• Robert Daly/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Personal trainers are their own best advertisement for dedication, training, and results. Aside from their knowledge of fitness and nutrition, it's their ability to motivate and inspire their clients that makes them successful. Here are some essential skills you need to be a masterful personal trainer in a dynamic and exciting career field.


Your passion for a healthy lifestyle, education, fitness, and proper nutrition, both for yourself and others, aids in teaching and guiding clients through a training plan and instills confidence and motivation in. Chris Powell from Extreme Weight Loss says that for him, success isn't about what he's accomplished, but rather what he can help others to achieve.

Industry Knowledge

High protein, low carb? Short bursts of high-intensity training? Effective dietary supplements that help to burn fat and make the most of your clients’ workouts? Personal trainers have to be on the cutting edge of rising trends in fitness and nutrition. The industry is always changing and growing, and thus your education doesn't end when you get your certification. Personal trainers must keep abreast of the latest research and developments and constantly learn in order to best serve their clients with the latest nutritional and training advice.


Sticking with a new eating and exercise plan can be a daunting task for people who are chronically obese and/or have always lived sedentary lifestyles. Venturing upon a rigorous and consistent exercise program will be filled with highs and lows for them – times (especially at the beginning) when they just want to throw in the towel, and glorious moments when a weight loss goal is achieved or a new athletic skill is mastered. Clients look to you to inspire them, show them the way, demand accountability on their part, and perhaps even change their life.

Personal trainers need to be able to motivate their clients with their instructions, advice, and personal example, get them back on track when they fall off the wagon, and empathetically deal with any emotional issues standing in their way.

If you are a personal trainer who also is willing to provide group instruction at a gym or training center (and most personal trainers do this), then you must also know how to manage group dynamics among class members who may or may not get along. It takes a special brand of leadership to be able to recognize and respond to the needs of individuals within a sometimes competitive group setting.

Energy and Commitment

No matter how many clients you see during the day, each one deserves your full physical energy and an unflagging positive outlook.

Dealing with struggling clients also takes patience and perseverance. You have to stand ready to restructure a program if it isn't working, cheer on a client who doesn't believe in himself, and carefully calculate when to push for extra effort and when to pull back. You occasionally also have to know how to tactfully defuse and support a struggling client who decides to take his or her frustration out on you.

Personal Trainer Skills List

Here's a comprehensive list of personal trainer skills employers seek in the candidates they hire or that you'll need to run your own business. 

Personal Attributes

  • Dependable
  • Analytical
  • Determination
  • Dynamic Personality
  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexible
  • Following Up
  • Friendly
  • Helping
  • High Energy
  • Hold Others Accountable
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Motivational
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Nurturing
  • Independent Worker
  • Networking
  • Organization
  • Passion for Fitness
  • Patience
  • Personable
  • Persuasive
  • Planning
  • Observational
  • Ongoing Learning
  • Punctual
  • Positive Outlook
  • Problem Solving
  • Self-Motivated
  • Set High Expectations
  • Stamina
  • Tact
  • Teaching
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management

Interpersonal Skills

  • Speaking
  • Advising
  • Coaching
  • Communication
  • Counseling
  • Group Presentations
  • Customer Service
  • Effectiveness with Diverse Clientele
  • Results Oriented
  • Sales
  • Verbal Communication

Industry Knowledge

  • AED/CPR Certification
  • Assessment
  • Current Fitness Trends
  • Demonstrating Exercises
  • Designing Exercise Programs
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Facility with Personal Training Software
  • First Aid Trainer
  • Knowledge of Anatomy
  • Knowledge of Kinesiology and Biomechanics
  • Knowledge of Physiology
  • NASM or Other National Certification
  • Operating and Maintaining Exercise Equipment
  • Personal Training Techniques
  • Record Keeping
  • Role Model for Healthy Living
  • Safety Conscious
  • Safety Techniques
  • Understanding of Principles of Nutrition