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!
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.
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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