Amanda Vogel by Amanda Vogel

When you start training someone new, client motivation is usually pretty strong. Clients tell you their goals, and you create programming accordingly. But it can be challenging in the long term to keep the magic alive every time you meet. Here are four things clients want trainers to know about what it takes to motivate them during a session.

1. Be Yourself

Be Yourself

Every trainer has a style; it’s no use trying to act like someone you’re not. Clients can tell if you’re acting like a boisterous cheerleader or rah-rah coach when it doesn’t suit your personality. In fact, trying to be someone you’re not can make you come across as fake, which isn’t very motivating.

Clients will respond better to the real you versus an act of how you think a motivating trainer is supposed to behave. That’s not to say the “coach” persona you present in a personal training session has to be exactly the way you’d act at home with family and friends. When you're wearing your personal trainer hat, it’s natural to portray a more energetic version of yourself. In fact, clients appreciate that, so long as it’s genuine.   

2. Don’t Just Count Reps

It’s a trainer’s job to count reps, observe clients’ technique, and correct form. But if that’s all that’s going on in a session, how boring! Aim to communicate beyond the technical. When I first started out as a fitness instructor, I took pride in the fact that I was always on beat with the music and I knew how to clearly cue exercise patterns (the technical stuff). With experience, I came to realize that nobody in my classes cared much about that. They came to be motivated.

The same is true for personal training. Count the reps and correct form when necessary but pepper in praise, too, and share information about what an exercise is doing. Stop for a moment to chit-chat here and there. This type of interactive, social motivation might be what keeps many of your clients coming back.

3. Know What Each Client Wants

Know What Each Client Wants

Think of the clients you saw most recently. What reasons have they given you for wanting to work out? When it comes to motivation, these individual goals should take center stage when you meet up with a client.

Avoid assumptions about what makes people tick. Despite stereotypes, not all female clients care if they look good in a bathing suit. Even if a lot of them do care about this, a simple “Keep going!” might not be what gets them through the last few reps of a tough set. Dig deeper. Bathing suit season might do it for some clients, but often there’s something more meaningful you can tap into.

If you’re not sure what cues will work best, ask. Have a client imagine what thoughts and goals will truly push them when they’re feeling especially fatigued during an exercise. Then use motivational cues with the client that reflect those thoughts and goals.  

4. Engage In The Moment

Clients can feel when you’re not present in the training session. If your mind is always wandering or you'd rather be looking at other people in the gym, they’ll sense it. Even if you think a client can’t see what you're doing, she probably does know you're secretly fiddling with your phone while she’s busting her butt over burpees. When you don’t show an interest in the session, how do you expect clients to? 

One obvious way to demonstrate that you’re focused on clients is to look at them when they’re exercising. Stay engaged in the moment and your clients will want to do the same, for you and for themselves.

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