PERSONAL TRAINERS: DRESS FOR SUCCESS!!! Talking about wardrobe, off the record, with Super-Trainer readers …

Posted on 16. Dec, 2008 by in Personal Trainer Marketing, Personal Trainer Sales Systems


Before you flame me for the gratuitous eye candy, let me assure you it has a purpose!

I’ve gotten a few e-mails from S-T readers recently about the subject of what to wear. That’s cool because you don’t want to leave this area to chance. Although it’s largely a matter of opinion, and in extreme cases you can almost get away with anything, we still can’t underestimate it’s importance.

That’s because Training’s an intangible product, and your appearance is one of these intangibles. Top performers in every field of sales and consulting are meticulous about how they dress and their appearance for good reason – because a large part of the buying decision is based solely on it!

Here’s my first letter:

Hi Kaiser!
It’s been a while, but we “spoke” (by email) several months ago when I was struggling to master the material for my cert. I’ve been following your blog & Underground Newsletter faithfully. Again I say thanks for the insider info!!!!!!! You’ve made me believe I could do this.
Well, now, cert in hand (ACSM) I am finally about ready to launch my biz. I’m definitely way better at the training part than the biz part. This is like wading through mud for me, but I am determined. My burning question (of the moment) is how exactly should I dress — both for a pic and for training sessions.
You mention the khakis/polo look. And you’ve also mentioned that you’ve now gone to more of a matching/new track suit look. I see that for men, but I feel sloppy in track suits. What I see other female trainers wear is the spandex dry-fit type pants and tshirt/tank/jacket. Now to me, that borders on a little sexy, with the tight-ish pants. (And I’ve learned enough from you to know that I shouldn’t pattern myself after other trainers!) However, I can’t figure out what the right thing is. I don’t know if I’d feel right in the khakis & polo. Maybe.
Help me out?
Thanks again for putting out such helpful content!
Sarah
Hey Sarah you’re right – just thinking about it for a second, most female trainers I’ve met do wear a lot of spandex! And I can definitely understand how that might not be your thing. There are a lot of tasteful track pants around – you may want to check the big stores or if you have a Nike Town in your area. I also know PUMA makes great stuff like this for girls. For your top a logo-t with your business name will be real good, and if you don’t have one, then a matching t.
But I agree, khakis and a polo may be over-kill. The funny thing I find is fashion changes in this industry, just like it does in the rest of the world.
It used to be a khaki and polo was good for a nice, high-end, clinical look then a muscle t and trackpants was what you started to see a lot of (kind of a futuristic look) – then matching track suits. Now I’ve almost come full circle and find myself wearing a logo-t with my business name and matching track pants and shoes. I broke out one of my embroidered muscle t’s recently and it felt wrong, like out of the 90’s. I might even rock one of my old, beat up embroidered polos that has a lot of fading (my hat, shoes, and pants are all brand new). And these are my observations based just on the last few years that I’ve been a Personal Trainer. More relaxed is good these days – Top-Level Trainers have more of a mentoring, personal role. But you’ve still got to have that air of professionalism.
And here’s the second question I got:
HI Kaiser:
I read your article in PFP magazine about how to dress for Personal Trainers. You mentioned a few different personality styles – I get the polo shirt/kahki vision, but what are some other examples of proper attire? How about some pictures of professional trainer attire? You talked about “master trainer,” “the guru,” etc. but it would great if there were some accompanying pics.
Janet
Yeah Janet you’re talking about the article I wrote earlier this year about the Success Image in PFP Magazine. I love PFP magazine – it’s an excellent magazine run be Kelli Calabrese and Shelby Murphy, and they’ve given me a feature column. I like how they don’t censor me and let me talk about real world stuff.

Yeah there were a few looks I talked about in that article. The Expert Trainer was the one you mentioned with the khakis; the others were The Guru, The Master Trainer, and Player Coach. Ok, let me give you an example of each.

For Master Trainer, I’ve always looked to the high end celebrity studio owners and copied their wardrobes. These are the guys that are always on TV, so when people would come into my studio, I know they’re looking for a similar, high-end experience. Even though I was mostly “small time”, I still wanted to create Master Trainer David Kirschthe air of prestige and credibility of guys like David Kirsch, who’s the owner of Madison Square Club over here in NYC. They call David the “ass-man” for his work with models. I even branded myself as a body-specific type of trainer just like David, also based on the work of another trainer Edward Jackowski, the author of Escape Your Shape, a very good book for trainers.
Because of this positioning, my practice attracted many near-perfect girls that were looking for just that extra little bit that God left out.
In his TV appearances, you’ll see David exude a positive image and professionalism through a matching athletic outfit. And in this recent picture I have of him, you’ll see him wearing a loose, plain logo-t like the example I talked about above. It’s about being an “accessible expert”, and he’s mastered it.
Charles GlassFor the Guru, I always think of a guy like Charles Glass who’s in a league of his own. He can basically get away with anything, yet you’ll still always notice him dressed tastefully and appropriately. But his assistant trainers wear logo’d t-shirts when training clients (there’s a video of Charles right now in the videos on right). LL Cool J’s trainer, Dave “Scooter” Honig is a guy I see around often and he’s similar, wearing just about whatever he wants. These guys are older and have the experience to get away with it.
For the Player/Coach look I mentioned, the modern example is Eric Cressey. Although his business model is more small-group training instead of Personal Training, he’s a good guy to follow. With a Player/Coach you’ve got to look good even though you may be taking part in the sessions yourself. Eric’s a young guy and he’ll often do that. As part of this, you’ve got to be comfortable and dressed appropriately for activity, but still look professional. If you ever catch some of the videos on Eric’s site or see the pictures from his book, you’ll notice a good example of this style in his photos. Mark Jenkins is another real good example, and you’ll find a couple of his videos in the videos section right now, and also search some of his media appearances on youtube.
So in general I’m real happy to get these questions because it means the subject of image is on trainers’ minds these days. It’s also smart to pay attention to every other point of contact with your potential customers, like your website and marketing materials too. Always keep looking for ways to upgrade – it’ll make any marketing you do twice as effective!
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12 Comments

I’ve always made an effort to dress in a fairly standardized way. I shoot for a “clean & sporty” look. In the past this has generally been a mix of a polo shirt and matching pants from Lululemon. But recently I made the plunge and had some logo wear printed up. I think this makes a big difference in the credibility of a trainer.

I also went one step further and had logo T’s printed up for my clients. They match mine but are slightly different. That really makes us stand out when I’m training a client in a commercial facility. It is also a nice bonus for the client and promotes loyalty.

Cheers,
Adam

Narina Prokosch

17. Dec, 2008

I run a private studio and require “uniforms”. I have chosen black pants with black collared polo shirts. The pants I picked are slim legged and allow any movement necessary from squats to Olympic lifts. I prefer the professional look to the too casual gym rat look and I know the clients prefer that look as well. Besides you never know who may walk through your doors to check you out. I once had two local physicians on their way to a dinner pop in to see our place as they were looking for a facility to refer their patients. Look professional and you will be treated as such.

Narina Prokosch, RN, CPT
http://www.victoriawellness.com
http://www.victoriawellness.com/blog/

Yavor

17. Dec, 2008

Good stuff! Clothing sends a message whether we want or not. We subconsciously judge people on how they look. Others judge us. Why not control what message our clothes exude.

gaby

17. Dec, 2008

Damn. Another great post! Its like you climb into all of our heads and get the questions and info that we all need and want access to! Im a big believer in wearing the nike, puma or addidas matching track suits. However, I am in the process of printing up some T-shirts with my logo and will wear them as well. I have been doing this for close to 8 years and find that this is the best way to go for me personally. And Kaiser, thanks for helping me step up my game and take it to another level!! They commision check is in the mail, lol.

bill moore

17. Dec, 2008

some good feedback, I prefer to let my trainers develop a style that matchs their personality, but they must be professional. As, the owner/expert in a private studio, I dress in polo shirt and matching workout slacks. (underarmour, Pitbull, Nike)
I encourage styles that enhance the physiques of the trainers, which as all we know our clients look up to.
YOU must practice what you preach when it comes to training !!
now, this doesnt mean “slutty wear” for my female trainers, but I am not opposed to strappy tank tops and form fitting pants. Males can wear form fitting polos etc. again personality types can pull it off.

The “gratuitous eye candy” gets my vote! I would stop making mortgage payments to train with her!
Seriously, Somagenesis has logo’d polos, jackets, ball caps and even lunch cooler bags. My clients dig the attire and often request to purchase Polos from me.

Kaiser

18. Dec, 2008

Thanks for the good word Gaby – yeah no problem, just make checks payable to GoHard Fitness Inc. – hah

Hey Rivak, you remind me of the smart kid in class that used to raise their hand and get every question right – I think I’m going to get together with some other ST readers and steal your lunch money and the milk out of your Somagenesis lunch cooler bag!!!

Yeah so it looks like everyone takes appearance very seriously – Bill took it even further to emphasize physique, which is also part of the overall picture – and everyone that responded is doing this at a high level – for the new-b reading, looks like the message is clear –

Lee Smith

19. Dec, 2008

Kaiser,

Your posts are always on point. I ESPECIALLY like this one because it’s very true. Most people whether we want to believe it or not, will perceive you on how you look. A part of that perception equates to the value the client sees in you too! If a client perceives you AS professional (image, etc.), you’ll have a much better chance getting the fees you want. With in-home training, I try to look at every part of the “image” so the perception of my business is high. If you think about it, our visual perception is our “auto-judging thing-a-ma-jig”. Some things I noticed that make a big difference are:
– personal appearance (neat-looking, clean tennis shoes, functional equipment, professional looking logo)
– Condition of equipment (is the equipment you’re giving your client clean and in good repair?)
– In-home training (umm, is your car clean when you pull up to client’s homes?)
– Is the paperwork you have for your client in good order? Or are you ruffling through your stuff like a overpaid factory worker looking for bus fare in her purse to get home?
– How your customer service? Definitely important…

I noticed things like this make a HUGE difference. Thanks for putting this post up Kaiser!!

Kaiser

19. Dec, 2008

Yeah Lee – this stuff is big – every point you made there was right on – all together it makes a huge difference –

Training is very easy when you pay attention to these details – Top Level training is about:
– maintaining a small client load of ideal clients we enjoy to train and that fall into our specialty
– charging high rates with the option to further raise them
– having the time and options to work on ourselves and our training practice, whatever that is for the individual

All of that is based on the credibility indicators and many more you point out – or else the whole thing gets shaky and starts to fall apart –

So it’s not all roses – if you’ve got all this time and freedom built in to your training practice, your image has got to show it!

oppknocks08

28. Jan, 2009

I work for a company who contracts trainers to clubs. My uniform if you will is black shorts(not short or tight), black sweats or track pants(not tight) and red t-shirts with the company logo on the front and trainer on the back, and athletic shoes. If I dressed like that girl at the beginning of the article then people would think I was sleazy. It is cute but definitely not professional. What do you think would happen when she gets down on the floor to show an exercise and then all you could see was cleavage? This is not a stripper bar, this is a gym.

Kaiser

29. Jan, 2009

Haha – that wasn’t a training uniform – that fitness super-model Jamie Eason! She gets paid to get guys excited –

But funny enough, I have seen some female trainers wearing outfits pretty close to that!!!

Kyle

24. Apr, 2009

lol- girls in Colombia and Brazil even wear less than that. I was amazed. It gave me great motivation to get my ass in the gym :)

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