Once you’ve fully qualified from your personal trainer course and gained your personal trainer qualifications, your next step will be to find employment OR start your own personal trainer business. Here are a few tips on how to approach your client relationship philosophy.
1. Detail and structure appropriate expectations at the beginning of your client relationship.
Agree and fine tune realistic expectations by exploring what your client expects to achieve and do this at the very outset. Your client needs to be informed about the exercise regime, how it will be structured and why. They may also need to know about the types of negative side effects which can accompany initial efforts to increase physical activity levels, for example muscle soreness (DOMS). Clients also need to understand the difficulties that can arise from starting out too quickly or too strenuously at the beginning of an exercise programme. After all it’s all too tempting to start off at great guns and then find it’s unsustainable!
2. Prepare your client for inevitable lapses.
Preparing your client for pitfalls like illness, unplanned breaks, hectic work schedules and so on normalises these challenges and helps in preventing the full blown drop-out so often seen following such unexpected breaks.
During these times keeping communications levels high will encourage your client to resume their training programme as soon as they possibly can.
3. Determine client preferences, needs and exercise history
Explore the following;
- Why are you seeking to work with a Personal Trainer?
- Have you had a Personal Trainer in the past?
- What are you hoping to achieve?
- Why is this important to you?
- How quickly are you looking for results?
- What motivates you?
4. Decide on the specific types of activities that are a ‘best fit’ for your client’s objectives, available time, commitments and personal style.
Then tailor the exercise program to each client. For example, use indoor exercise for the client that feels embarrassed to be seen outdoors in public. Got a client who gets bored easily? Build variety into their programme, exercise location and type of activity to keep them inspired.
5. Set appropriate and realistic exercise goals using the SMART principle.
Short term, flexible goals that are client owned and accompanied by constructive led feedback are really useful. Be prudent with your goal setting here as less is definitely more. With the achievement of one goal looming the next one should be forward planned and discussed.
Contracts can be drawn up between you and your client to assist with adherence, personal responsibility, commitment and accomplishment. The use of contracts can be enhanced further by including a reward for reaching the goal. The contract should detail your responsibilities, how you will help your client as well as outlining the client’s responsibilities in this process.
In the early phases of an exercise program, depending on the client, it may be best to focus on a ‘quick win’ such as a goal based on attendance rather than exercise related performance.
6. Offer choices
Your approach with your client should of course be structured. However many clients will benefit from being offered a choice of alternatives within the general structure of their program. This in turn helps develop a form of partnership and ownership between you and the client which is crucial to developing a positive, lasting relationship.
7. Provide feedback
Regular, constructive and informative feedback that is client specific and relevant can be highly effective in maintaining motivation and adherence to exercise especially in the early phases of the exercise programme. In this phase the more tangible benefits from the programme such as increases in muscle size or muscle tone have yet to materialise. Testing clients every three months should provide enough feedback to reinforce current activities and motivate future adherence. Be mindful though that testing during a plateau or shortly after resuming the programme after a break could have the opposite effect!
8. Smartphone prompts and reminders
Request that your client sets prompts on their smart phone for your training sessions. In addition ask them to set time into their hectic schedule to make an exercise appointment with themselves, so that they are reminded to exercise outside of your sessions.
9. Be an appropriate role model for your client
Appropriate and consistent modelling of exercise related behaviours can provide significant motivation for clients. When coaching and teaching the actual exercises do so slowly so your client understands the correct technique and how to execute the particular exercise. Be prudent in exercise attire and remember that as a Fitness Professional you are well placed to be a role-model for other important health behaviours. This can be achieved by not smoking or abusing alcohol and drugs together with pursuing decent nutritional habits, taking regular exercise and making sure you look the part.
If you’re thinking about a fitness career you can request a copy of our prospectus which contains full details on our Personal Trainer courses and Fitness Instructor Courses here.