Greg Slade, Head of Health and Fitness at The Training Room

Are soft skills more important than education?

A study last year showed that the business leaders of tomorrow believe people skills will be the key to business success despite the fact we are entering a truly technological age.

The study examined the views of hundreds of recent graduates from the CEMS Master in International Management programme and over half (56%) consider either social skills (33%) or the ability to manage people (23%) as the most important skills to develop as technology increases in the corporate workplace. They rated these soft skills more highly than teachable hard skills (7%), technical job-specific content skills (7%) or process skills such as critical thinking (12%).

The Training Room has been championing and delivering soft skills and emotional intelligence training for some time and later this summer will be rolling out the new standards in Level two and three fitness and PT education. Soft skills play a critical part in the role of a modern personal trainer.

Communication is one of the most important skills that a personal trainer can possess. Personal trainers have a responsibility to help people achieve their health and fitness goals and if they can’t communicate effectively with their clients then they are unlikely to achieve the best results. Soft skills and a good level of emotional intelligence is key to being a successful personal trainer.

Motivating your clients to push themselves physically and often mentally, beyond levels they might not have been to before as well as helping them maintain a fitness programme and healthy lifestyle outside of the one-to-one sessions isn’t an easy task and isn’t something that can be taught in one lesson. The best motivators will often use encouragement to drive their clients, coupled with positive reinforcement, which will build confidence and determination.

However, some people will respond differently and might need more direct and forthright language and encouragement. As a PT it’s down to you to read and establish which approach is right for each client.

Although most of the time a PT will be giving advice, it is crucial that PTs can listen to their clients and pick up on subconscious cues. A good PT will ask plenty of open-ended questions and get feedback about the programme, training and any other obstacles or issues impacting the programme.

Empathy is one of the most important skills a PT can have. As a PT you might find it easy to train and eat healthy whilst avoiding temptation but not everyone is the same. A good PT will understand and recognise this and work with the client to offer support to overcome issues, stresses and strains whilst helping and supporting them to achieve their goals.


Naturally PTs must have the qualifications and knowledge of health and fitness to educate others but just as importantly they need to be able to take their knowledge, experience and expertise and translate it in a way that will help, educate and guide their clients.

Knowledge alone isn’t power – it’s how you apply this to help the lives of others when the power can be truly realised.

Therefore, effective communication plays a critical part of education and it’s vital that all PTs can communicate their messages in an easily digestible and most importantly engaging way. It takes confidence, knowledge, a satisfactory grasp of language, and plenty of practice.

People are naturally drawn to engaging and confident people and this is especially true of PTs. Very few people will want to work with a PT who is hiding in the corner not making eye contact with anyone. Good communication and people skills will boost your confidence, which will then translate across to your clients. Clients will have more faith in your training program if you can demonstrate your knowledge of fitness with authority.

Each year thousands of people train to become a PT because they are passionate about fitness and although training courses spend much time educating students about science, anatomy and physiology it’s crucial that moving forward we invest more time and effort into supporting the development of the softer skills with more practice and more feedback; all of which comes from increased face to face tuition time. This cannot be effectively developed through online learning alone.

Greg Slade, Head of Health and Fitness at The Training Room

Copyright © 2018 FE News

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