4 Ways for Personal Trainers to Maximise Client Motivation

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This is a guest blog post written by Luke Grahame of Tough Love Cardiff. Luke is an experienced personal trainer and has consulted for The Independent on Sunday, The Metro, BBC News and others.

The first weeks and months of Personal Training can be tough for a new client.

For many, it will be the first physical exercise that they’ve undertaken in years which can be daunting, if not terrifying prospect. Even harder is what we then go on to do: we take the client’s notions of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle and turn them on their head. Special K for breakfast isn’t healthy, the cross trainer isn’t the greatest instrument of fat loss ever conceived, and eating 3 eggs a week won’t make your heart explode in your chest. We quash our client’s accepted truths and ask them to change decades of deeply ingrained habits in a short space of time. It’s difficult, it’s scary, and the client’s mind and body will be straining to find excuses, run away, anything to make things return to the status quo.

So that’s where we come in. We need to demonstrate the value of our profession, be so good that our client’s motivation and resolve stays strong. Here are 4 ways to help you keep them on the straight and narrow at all times.

1. Show results

We need results and we need to be able to demonstrate them to the client. Provide unarguable results that our system works and motivation will soar. Skinfold, weight, measurements, progress photos, 1-rep max – anything will suffice as long as it shows the client the desired improvement. If regular assessment doesn’t show results then the trainer needs to be on the ball and make adjustments in training and nutrition promptly. Continued lack of results simply means that we are not as good at our jobs as we think we are.

2. Goal setting

In terms of results, a little often is fine. If weight is the variable being tracked then a pound a week of loss is perfectly acceptable, on the condition that the client understands that this is the target. If the only agreed goal is a long-term target of several stones then a short-term loss of a single pound will feel like a failure when it is in fact progress. Agree and write down long term and short term goals together with the client and regularly re-evaluate and re-establish new ones. All Personal Trainers know what a SMART goal is. How many PT’s use them effectively is another thing.

3. Give the client their control back

Many have felt out of control of their bodies for years and, despite what they believe are their best efforts, they have changed physically in ways that they do not want and do not understand. It is our responsibility to make them aware that they have the power and the control to change themselves and all they need are the tools that we provide. Turning up to train regularly, training hard during sessions, following their food plan, avoiding junk food, and getting lots of good quality sleep are all powerful choices that give the client accountability and control over their actions.

4. Motivation works both ways

The trainer should be equally invested in the progress of the client as the client is them self – after all their results are your results! Every little step they make should be met with positive reinforcement and enthusiasm, from new personal bests, to successfully met goals, to a newly visible vein on a bicep; they are all steps on the road to success and should be applauded accordingly. If the trainer doesn’t treat the client’s achievements as being valuable then why would the client? And subsequently, why would they be motivated to continue? Their motivation will reflect yours so do your job well and lead by example.

In today’s litigious society, it is important to ensure you are protected from yourself and the unpredictable. Fortunately, insurance is available to protect you and your interests and though legal matters may be far from your mind, as a PT it is highly recommended that you invest in a policy which can protect you, your equipment and your credentials. Click here to get a quote.