Angel Ramos is an excellent instructor, but he is not a professional educator. He motivates his clients to learn and grow measurably, but he is not an educator. Angel is impacting the long-term quality of peoples’ lives, but he is not an educator. Angel Ramos is an accomplished and popular trainer at Xsport Fitness, where I have been training for for the past five years. He employs training methods that would make him a very effective classroom teacher. What can educators learn from an outstanding fitness trainer like Angel?



Angel, like all good trainers, establishes a rapport with his clients. He learns about their interests, their likes and dislikes, along with their motivations for training. Angel establishes a supportive relationship with his clients. These partnerships create an atmosphere where clients are more likely to “buy in” to the often rigorous training sessions.



Personal trainers, like Angel, put their clients through a series of tests and measures in order to establish a baseline fitness and conditioning level. These measures may include tests of power, strength, endurance, and flexibility. Additionally, clients will have measurements taken of their height, weight, BMI (body mass index), resting heart rate, along with measurements of neck, wrist, bicep, chest, waist, and thigh. These baseline measures are essential to assessing progress.



Once the baseline measures are taken, trainers and trainees will have a conversation about fitness goals and training plans. A good trainer will listen to what the client would like to accomplish with their training. A progress chart, or training portfolio, is introduced and planned cooperatively so training sessions are realistically challenging while supporting the agreed upon timeline towards personalized, measurable, fitness goals.



An excellent trainer will wear their passion on their sleeves. It will be infectious, and the trainees will feed off of the enthusiasm and encouragement. Because rapport was established first, feedback will be personalized to the client. Motivational strategies will focus on the previously stated interests and goals of the client. Angel leads by example, immersing himself into the same exercises as his clients. He is fully engaged in his client’s performance, and he makes them feel like they are the most important person in the gym.



Quality personal trainers will establish and communicate a clear plan towards success. They will solicit suggestions and work collaboratively through the planning with their clients. The trainer brings personal and professional expertise to the partnership. He, or she, will use their training and education to bring sound judgement, and advice, to the training sessions. Angel provides for differentiation in group exercise classes by offering modifications of the training moves. Initial exercises and workouts are closely monitored. Eventually, the client takes over ownership of the process. Even though it is ultimately up to the client to execute the plan, teamwork in group exercise class is emphasized as everyone works towards improvement. The power of the group creates commitment and co-dependence for success. We all get better because the group gets better. “Together Everyone Achieves More.



Frequent coaching and feedback is a staple of any good trainer. Heart rate monitors, distance vs. time, RPMs, sets and repetitions, all offer measures that provide feedback to assess progress towards fitness goals. Trainers will use this information to help clients assess their workout level and make recommendations for improving technique, adjusting effort, or both. Angel will not give grades or scores. However, he will often ask trainees to reflect upon the workout, both during and after each session. What went well? What could be improved? “Did you see measurable progress towards your goals? If not, what needs to change during the next series of workouts?”



Achievement benchmarks are celebrated with praise, recognition, and sometimes more tangible rewards such as spa passes, or coupons for nutritional supplements. Angel organizes and shares in these celebrations. He takes pride in knowing that he is positively impacting his client’s personal wellness. When people are pushed to their limits, setbacks can be expected. Trainers will treat challenges with support and empathy. They will remind clients that accepting challenges and overcoming adversity are part of the growth process that will lead to a lasting fulfillment and success.


These training practices work very well at the gym, and they have also proven to be successful with students in the classroom. These strategies for personal training should be used by teachers to address the needs of the whole-learner while also providing an individualized plan for their wellness and growth. If you check this list again, you will see the concepts of Dave Burgess, Angela Maiers, Carol DweckRobert Marzano, and other educational thought leaders, coming through.


“Educators, what would happen if you stopped teaching and started training your student learners?”


Related Reading

Coach Students Rather Than Teach Students – David Ginsburg

Are We Training Good Students or Good Learners – Marina Olson

Youth Fitness: Teaching Strategies – Christy Stevenson, IDEA

Telling isn’t Teaching: The Fine Art of Coaching – Dr. Richard Curwin, Edutopia

What is the Teacher’s Job When Teaching? – ASCD, Wiggins & McTighe

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, plantronicsgermany.

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