What To Wear, What To Wear?

Posted on: January 26th, 2013 by Rachel Cosgrove

“Dress for the highest level of expectation for that day.”

–      Fashion Expert, Tim Gunn

What to wear, what to wear? As a fitness professional this can be a difficult question. If you don’t work for a gym that you have to wear a uniform and instead you work in a gym training clients, demonstrating exercises all day…what should you wear everyday to look professional yet be functional and able to do your job well?

Having been a trainer(aerobics instructor for the first 2 years) for 18 years, I have been wearing sweats for my entire adult working life. When I put on jeans that usually means I’m dressed up for a fancy date night, usually with my nicest pair of Nike’s (this is especially true since my husband has been wearing sweats for his career longer than I have). If either of us come home from work and put on a pair of jeans…wow, your dressed up, are we going out tonight? I have always loved fashion, shopping and clothes ever since I was young. I remember demanding that my jeans must be Jordache when I was probably 8 or 9 (what a brat huh? :) Sorry Mom…)

When I was working as an aerobics instructor in the early 90′s I rocked a leotard and stretch pants and yes I even wore a thong leotard at one point(not too professional). Then I started working as a personal trainer in New York and was surrounded by male personal trainers, wanting to be at the same level as them I dressed similar to them wearing mostly black all the time. When Alwyn & I opened our gym(over 12 years ago) we ordered polos that we both wore along with black sweats. The polos were not flattering since they were men’s polos. It took me awhile to realize I didn’t need to dress like a man and could still be seen as a professional.

So back to the question, what to wear? There is a fine line between getting dressed for work as a personal trainer, getting dressed for your own workout, wearing sweats around the house and what you wear to bed…

First of all, if you are wearing the same clothes you wore to bed to train your clients- not OK.

In fact, if you are wearing the same clothes you worked out in or are going to work out in- Not OK.

Remember, your goal is to be seen as a professional by your clients and potential clients. Your clients are paying you a high hourly rate as one of the professional’s on their team. Their doctor or physical therapist would never wear their pajamas when meeting with them and neither should we if we want to be seen as part of their health professional team.

If you want to be seen as a top level expert in your profession you must dress like one. If you aren’t making the money you want as a personal trainer, it is time to pay attention to your appearance and be sure you look professional everyday.

“Dress, approach your day and act as if you are making the money you want to make.”

Dress for success and dress to impress everyday. Dress as if you were going to meet someone you have always wanted to meet or make an impression on every single day because you never know what the day holds. I am amazed at how people in our industry dress to go to work. I have seen top coaches in our field show up for appointments with paying clients in flip flops and shorts. I realize that we need to be able to move and demonstrate exercises but that doesn’t mean we can’t dress like we are coming to work as a professional and not dressing for our own workout or for the beach. Think about what you wear and the impression you make on your clients.

Tips for you as you are getting dressed for work as a personal trainer:

  1. Put some thought into it. Come up with a uniform that you wear when you train your clients that looks professional (it can be fashionable too).
  2. Get shirts made with the logo of your business as part of your uniform.
  3. Stick to one clothing brand. Wearing all one brand gives the impression that you are sponsored, by that company.  Act as if and who knows one day you might be!
  4. Remember the training session isn’t about you, it is about your client. I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach and looking the part but you don’t need to show your body off while you are training your clients. Wearing next to nothing can be intimidating for a lot of people and gives the impression that the training session is about you, as you are drawing attention yourself wearing next to nothing, and not about the client. Hint: Save your half tops and short shorts for your own workout when it is about you.
  5. Color is a good thing. I have more black Nike pants than anyone I know. Black is easy and always looks good. Black pants are fine but start to learn what colors you look best in and wear some color for your “uniform” shirt. Certain colors will make you look more tired and others will bring out your coloring. Notice the days you get compliments, you are probably wearing your colors or when you take a good picture, what color were you wearing?
  6. As more and more women are building careers in the fitness industry we can bring a sense of fashion and attention to detail when it comes to our appearance and how fitness professionals dress, rather than looking like we are wearing the sweats we slept in last night. (But let’s vow to never bring back thong leotards!)

As you build your career in the industry and have a team working for you, start to be sought out as an expert and have opportunities to speak to audiences and be in the public eye this becomes even more important. Represent our industry in a way that elevates our field, from being seen as gym rats to being seen as professionals.

What should you wear to do your first presentation? When speaking to an audience dress similar to what the audience wears to connect with them, except one level up so they see you as the expert in the room. For example, when I am giving a lecture at a conference most of the audience are personal trainers in sweats. If I am not doing a hands on, then I’ll dress one level up, wearing jeans a shirt and a blazer(shows I mean business). This way I can still connect with the audience but I’m also seen as the expert in the room, wearing my nicest pair of jeans of course.

Overall, my bigger mission is to change the way fitness is done and elevate women in the fitness industry. It starts with how people perceive us as professionals, being seen and taken seriously. The only way to get there is to start dressing and acting like professionals.

If you want to join the mission of changing the way fitness is done come to our next Results Fitness University Event! Take advantage of getting the Early Bird discount TODAY. Click here to learn more. 

Related posts:

  1. Lessons from Barbie