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When I started out as a personal trainer I felt like I had a decent understanding of the “body” (though I would clearly learn more and grow). However, I have felt that having a greater understanding of the “mind” (especially in these initial stages) would have made a more significant impact my clients and my professional success.

I have a very obvious bias in that the majority of the time I have worked as a personal trainer and health coach I was concurrently working towards my doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in motivation or change psychology. Despite that fact, I still feel and felt that a deeper understanding of the mental side, motivation, cognition, behavior management, etc. was needed and would have had a greater impact on my comfort, confidence, and effectiveness.

I am just wondering if others had a similar experience where understanding people and their needs became a critical component to the success of your work as fitness professionals. Or maybe there is another element that you have found to be the thing that transformed your ability to better serve your clients.

Please tell me what area i.e. group classes, small group, nutrition coaching, one-on-one personal training, etc. (be as specific as you would like) and the things that you learned later (on the job, in seminars, etc.) that you believe would have been helpful to have had exposed/mastered early on (again be as specific as you would like).