In my career as a personal trainer, certain training methods I have used regularly have proven successful time and time again and have led, in part, to two Personal Trainer of the Year Awards. Here are my top three tips that will guarantee results with your clients:
Keep Last Things Last
There’s a reason I’m putting this tip first—it’s probably the most important one. As fitness professionals, when we hear someone’s goals, we often let our minds race with all the cool exercises we will use in a client’s program, and the creative and challenging ways to combine the exercises into an effective program. This is a critical mistake.
Designing the workout program is often the easiest part of training a client. People in the real world have a lot of priorities in their lives and all of them need attention—they can’t sweep everything aside for exercise—nor should they. Our job as professionals is to help figure out how to help our clients get results within their available resources—time, energy, money, etc. Our programs need to fit into clients’ lives rather than take them over.
It is impossible to design an effective program until you know the opportunities for exercises and potential obstacles that could get in the way of your client’s progress. You need to know what a client’s daily life is like—his or her schedule, responsibilities, hobbies, and sources of stress and happiness—before you can know what the program will look like.
Therefore, design the program last—try to discover everything that might affect your client’s ability to have success first so you can plan the program around those factors.
Forget the What—Find the Why
Building off of the first tip, you need to know the powerful emotional reasons as to why someone cares about fitness before you can get to the how. After all, the “how” is the easy part—there’s no shortage of info on how to get in shape, there’s simply not enough people using that info!
What will be better in your clients’ lives when they are fit? What will they do? With whom will they do those activities? Find out what your clients value in life and what they’re motivated by, then frame fitness progress in terms of how being fit can make those things better.
Finding out the “why” of your clients fitness goals lets you connect with their personal stories and the powerful emotional drives that motivates them to do anything and everything they do.
If you don’t uncover this information, you’re only as good as every other trainer who can successfully demonstrate a push-up and create a program. If you discover the “why” that drives your clients, deciding what to do with them will come easily. And, more importantly, they will be more likely to embrace it.
Be Everything But a Trainer
The last thing you want to hear when someone describes the role you play in their life is “trainer.” The stereotype of a trainer—someone who puts people through grueling workouts with a drill sergeant personality—is certainly one you want to avoid. Treat people like adults, show them respect and they will respect your authority. A loud voice, big biceps and overbearing behavior don’t make you a good trainer—it just makes you a workout leader. And those are a dime a dozen.
You can guarantee success by acting as a “coach.” Identify your clients’ unhealthy behaviors through thorough investigation and help your clients replace those unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. If you do this correctly, they will probably refer to you as a life coach or fitness guru without you ever having to use those terms.
Yes, some might consider these tips to be unorthodox. Every single one of them requires you to invest a lot of yourself in your clients and to build their trust in you. But really, you shouldn’t want it any other way. Everything about your clients’ interactions with you—from their initial contact, to your paperwork, to the way you handle and coach them through challenges when they arise—should communicate a higher level of fitness professionalism than they have seen before. You will elevate your clients, their perception of you and, as a result, their success!