We catch up with experienced personal trainer, Adam Neal to give us an insight into what makes a successful trainer. Adam is currently self-employed but works within the Pro-Fit leadership team that includes mentoring personal trainers at the company, as well as providing internal education to Pro-Fit trainers within Total Fitness and other commercial gym chains, plus small commercial gyms.
Can you tell us a little about your background before becoming a personal trainer?
I’ve played rugby from 8 years old and always loved the fitness and weightlifting side of training when I was introduced to it whilst on the Warrington Wolves scholarship programme. I was always a keen learner, asking Strength and Conditioning coaches lots of questions in the what’s and why’s to what we were doing.
So when did you think about becoming a personal trainer?
Whilst I was playing for Salford Red Devils in 2012 we were offered an opportunity to study the level 3 personal training qualification on our days off from training. My time in a full time environment in Super League came to an end in 2013 so I entered the real world and had to find a job.
I applied at Pro-Fit Personal Training never thinking I’d get the role but as I later learned pro-fit recruit on values and character not necessarily experience and qualifications which was great for me as I had a big passion for fitness and was really keen to throw myself into learning with the guys at Pro-Fit.
That’s when my personal training journey began in September of 2013.
What qualifications do you currently hold?
Personal training diploma level 3
Pro-fit level 6
Precision nutrition level 1
CPD diploma in life coaching
Certified physical preparation specialist level 1 and advanced
Bio-force certified conditioning coach
Mac nutrition certified nutritionist (pending - exam to do)
Do you have any daily routines?
My breakfast varies to be honest but usually well balanced with protein and carbs in every breakfast. For example a simple breakfast of poached eggs on wholemeal toast is pretty typical. I always slam down a greens drink too, for a vitamin kick in the morning.
This usually includes a greens powder called athletic greens. It's a bit expensive but tastes good (unlike other greens drinks) and is a great product in terms of ingredients.
I still train 5 Days per week, which include a mixture of strength and conditioning based sessions.
What type of clients do you have at the moment?
My clients range from the usual general population that want to are trying to lose fat, both males and females. I also have a number of small business owners who take their sports really seriously. I have clients involved in football, golf and racing who want more strength and conditioning elements put into their sessions. I enjoy the mixture.
Training the clients involved in playing sport is always fun, and something I’ve done away from my one to one clients. Until recently, I was the team strength and conditioning coach for Oldham RLFC, but due to family commitments and a new addition to the family I have stepped away.
What sort of exercises do you like as a personal trainer?
I certainly love the dreaded split squat and Bulgarian split squat, especially for anyone who’s playing sports on the weekends.
But to be honest no specific exercises to get married to I just have a big belief that if you do the basics super well, with the right technique and in a well structured programme your clients will feel clear benefits and see progress. My basics to do well are Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge and Carry.
What do you think are the 3 biggest skills needed to be a successful personal trainer?
if you can’t put yourself in your client’s shoes and empathise with their lives you can’t help.
It’s very easy for a personal trainer who works in a gym all day to food prep and eat chicken and broccoli all day, but the 45-year-old mum of 3 who has hundreds of responsibilities is in a very different scenario. If you can’t empathise with this, you cannot begin to help the client make sustainable change.
It’s the most basic of skills but no one wants a personal trainer who’s late all the time. It shows disrespect for the client’s time. And eventually a lack of value!
Listen and observe more than you speak
We have two eyes, two ears but only one mouth!
The longer I work with people the more I realise they can tell you everything they need to do themselves, you have to observe and see the spark in your client and then coach that spark to help them change their lives.
That’s why personal trainers are there! Anyone can write a programme, there’s 1000s online, but quality one to one coaching is rare.
The 3 biggest pieces of advice you would give to a newly qualified PT
1. Continuing education is a must!
2. Learn how to sell. I know nobody likes selling but if you’re in a corporate gym very rarely people will just walk up to you and ask for personal training.
3. They must know, like and trust you. If you can’t get clients, then no point being the most educated as you have no one to train to apply it.
Lastly, I would always say if you’re looking at personal training as a career then 20% per year of your wage should be invested in your education and continual development. This can be through accredited qualifications or seminars and workshops with specialist personal trainers. There are loads of opportunities out there to continue your development, and it never stops!
Are there any books you would recommend?
Try to read or listen to one audio book a month if you can. I would recommend starting with Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within.
Also, if you get the chance, try to attend one of his weekend seminars – it was life changing for me.
Are there any podcasts personal trainers could be listening to?
I’d recommend the Pro-fit Podcast. I’m obviously biased but there are some absolute golden pieces of information every week from the best trainers in the UK.
Joe Defranco industrial strength show.
DTS Fitness education podcast.
Art of coaching podcast.
Adam currently works with private clients from the Bolton Arena as well as mentoring other personal trainers across Lancashire.
If you are interested in learning more about Adam or Pro-Fit personal training, Adam can be contacted at: