Right, wrong or indifferent, our industry has segmented itself in a myriad of directions. Functional training, corrective exercise, CrossFit, bodybuilding, sports specific, the types of fitness programming can go on for days. Also, not to mention our industry is constantly evolving every day. This can be problematic for a new trainer and as equally troublesome for veteran trainers. If you feel your business is not taking off the way you want it to, you may want to consider marketing your skills towards a specific population and "specialize" to boost your clientele.

I've always lived by the old adage, 'you can choose to be good at a lot of things or only great at one,' and while that isn't always the case, in our industry the specialists are the ones that are pursued by the clients. Clients want to know you have trained and have been successful with someone like them. So my advice to new and old trainers wanting to take their business to the next level is to specialize and here is how you do it:

What are you MOST passionate about?
We all enjoy certain aspects of our craft more than others. Many trainers would prefer training athletes over special populations or vice versa. Whatever that means for you, find what you are most passionate about and feel you do well and market yourself to that population. Trainers that are successful and enjoy training people with injuries have a large population base they can target and market too.

Research and certification
Once you find your niche, garner certifications specific to that skill. For example; if corrective exercise and injury rehabilitation is your game I would suggest NASM's Corrective Exercise Specialist to market to your clients. If you wanted to develop a client base made up of athletes; NSCA's Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist would be a certification worth getting. Also, research everything you can from research journals to the industry leaders to know everything you possibly can about your niche. This adds a ton of value to you when you can say you specialize in a particular skill and you have certifications and knowledge to go with it.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water
It is great to specialize but remember what got you into fitness. Do not throw away the fundamentals and forget how to train other segments as well. Yes, specialization is preferred in our fast moving and competitive industry but we always have to be ready to train someone that does not fit our niche or we could possibly lose out on a client. Specialize but keep your skill set fresh for other potential clients.

Our industry is competitive. Certifications and degrees no longer separate trainers from one another. Experience is also suspect depending upon who you have spent your experience training and at what level. To be at the top of the industry you must specialize to attract your niche market but must always be ready to train and market to other populations as well.


Josh 'JB' Bowen, BS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D is the former Quality Control Director of Personal Training for Urban Active Fitness and is currently a personal trainer for Fitness Plus II in Lexington, KY and a consultant and National Fitness Director for Compel Fitness.

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