I've said a lot over the years about this topic, and I'll continue to do so no doubt until the fitness industry holds its own where personal trainers for the most part have the collective respect of the allied health industry. Unfortunately for now the dropout rate of personal trainers is still extremely high and their general attitude towards 'best practice' is back to front. Yes I understand aesthetics is important to the general public in our ever materialistic world. However I ask, what's wrong with the aesthetics of a gymnast? At least if you train like one you get function as well as looks rather than looks and dysfunction.
The primary job description of a personal trainer is exercise prescription, therefore with that in mind I would argue that a successful personal trainer is one who can cater for any of theirs clients needs and wants associated with better movement and performance.
Am I a purist? Unfortunately yes! The reality however in the fitness industry is that there are many personal trainers who have 'succeeded' in business whose exercise prescription is questionable at best! They ride on the PERSONAL side of their job title. These personal trainers know their clients dogs names, birth dates, husbands favorite sport and what little johnnies favorite cartoon is. And I tell you what their clients love them for it!
So to answer the original question I guess one must first ask themselves, "what do I stand for within the fitness industry and what do I want to be known for? If you want to be known as a personal trainer that has an outstanding reputation for exceeding their clients expectations then chances are my recommendation to you would be, start burying your nose into books and learn as much as possible because I know you're initial PT certification would have been left well short on the knowledge stakes when it comes to having a sound understanding of human movement, performance and nutrition (Uni degrees a side).
If you want to be the personal trainer that is always their for their clients every need and are deeply supportive, well hopefully you already have exceptional inter-personal skills and love to talk. Because at the end of the day all this style of client really wants is to move a little and have a person to talk to about their troubles. So between the gentle endorphin release you give them and the vent session they can walk out of the gym feeling a million bucks.
For me as you guys we know I'm all about quality of movement, I'm there to help coach individuals who want to grow and push themselves as individuals, this is what creates genuine change to peoples lives and creates a greater self worth. Not pamper to our clients insecurities and false pretentious, because at the end of the day this doesn't really serve them and just drives us insane!!!
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.