Part II: What Makes An Exceptional Trainer

By Coach Manny A.

It’s no secret that I believe most trainers who are considered “good” are actually just average. I wrote a post about this on my blog titled “Most Good Trainers Are Actually Just Average” if you’d like more context. While I don’t consider average to be good, if more trainers were operating at an average level, it would be a step forward for the fitness industry (which is sad, isn’t it?). But what sets exceptional trainers apart from the average ones?

To me, exceptional trainers bring results to people who have previously failed to see progress. They can help clients that most other trainers can’t. And this isn’t because they have a better exercise program or a better diet plan. That’s not what distinguishes an exceptional trainer from an average one. When I think of exceptional traits of a trainer, I think of expertise, efficiency, systems, communication, and intangibles.

Expertise is crucial for a trainer. They must have a vast knowledge of their subject area to navigate through common barriers. Sometimes, these barriers are concrete, but oftentimes they require outside-the-box thinking (more abstract). Efficiency is the trainer’s ability to deliver the minimum dose for the maximum effect, without any filler. For example, some trainers will program accessory work just to fill up time training, when oftentimes, the answer is actually less, but with specific intent. This leads to the importance of systems. Systems allow the trainer to make objective observations to track progress, have a flow, and are easy to follow by the client. The system helps tremendously in building trust and credibility. It also makes it a repeatable process that can still be tailored for each individual.

Communication may seem like an average skill set, but it’s a superpower that only exceptional trainers possess. Communicating with compassion, active listening, asking relevant questions, reading a situation, and having high emotional intelligence are all vital skills that exceptional trainers have. It’s not just about listening to clients’ personal problems and giving them blanket advice. Exceptional trainers can communicate effectively in a way that makes clients feel seen and heard.

Finally, intangibles are what make exceptional trainers special. These are the indescribable things that make clients believe in their abilities. It’s what sets them apart from the average trainers, outside the concrete things that we can recognize. Intangibles are often a bit abstract and hard to identify within the coach. It’s their special superpower. Most trainers, even good ones, may never become exceptional because they simply don’t have that “it” factor.

This is just a snapshot of my current thoughts and ideas on what makes a trainer exceptional. It’s worth noting that exceptional trainers possess skills and abilities far beyond what an average trainer has, which is why their clients see far better outcomes. I believe that by raising the standards for trainers, we can create more exceptional trainers in the future. My goal is for my affiliate, NorthEast CrossFit, to build exceptional trainers, and for my coaching system, The NEHP Coaching Academy, to pave the way for trainers to aspire to be exceptional.

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