A trainer-client relationship is one of the most important professional relationships you’ll ever develop in your career as a fitness professional. It’s one built on a foundation of trust, mutual respect, and support and needs to be treated as such. As a trainer, you must ensure that your clients trust you and believe in you to help them achieve their health and wellness goals, rather than fearing you.
They should be able to express their concerns and vulnerabilities, knowing that you will be able to help them, and that’s only achievable if you actively work on being approachable and trustworthy.
Here are some great tips on how to improve your relationship with your fitness clients:
Maintain a professional attitude and demeanor
To make a good impression on your clients, you don’t need to have the latest trainers or fancy clothes. There are a few basic tenets of professionalism that can start you off on the right foot; being punctual, honoring commitments, staying pleasant, and being honest are often more than enough. It’s important for trainers to maintain a professional attitude when dealing with clients because it helps them see you as their coach and as someone who is trained in their field and equipped to help them.
Communicate clearly, communicate often
Communicating with your clients is very important. Not just sharing basic need-to-know details like timings and schedules but communicating words of encouragement, approval, recommendations, and even off-day workouts. It helps to show your clients that you’re involved, following up with their progress, and offering them support, advice and feedback even beyond the gym floor.
This also applies to regularly communicating their progress and walking them through their performance, improvements in their form, stats, or general indicators. It’s a great way to build rapport for healthy communication.
Empathize and put yourself in their position
Often trainers forget the importance of empathy. Yes, you’re there to push your clients to do better, work harder, and perform more steadily, testing their limits along the way, but you shouldn’t overlook their struggles either. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and envision how they feel being yelled at by a trainer on the gym floor–name-calling, body-shaming, mocking, terrorizing are some of the worst practices any trainer can adopt, and you should work to steer clear of them.
Maybe you were genetically blessed and came out of the womb with a six-pack, but maybe you were also heavily bullied for your appearance once upon a time. No matter what the case may be, you should always remember that your client is a person with feelings and emotions before anything else.
Be specific to their needs but remain flexible
Learn to adapt your training style and schedule to your clients’ needs, goals, and requirements. Rather than taking a cookie-cutter generic approach to training, see how you can help your clients achieve their specific fitness, health, and wellness goals through your services, providing them with the tools, knowledge, and expertise that they need.
You might have a trajectory in mind for them, but injuries, accidents, fatigue, physical and mental limitations can all get in the way and how you respond to them as a trainer is what sets you apart. The more adaptive you are while still doing your job, the more your clients respect you.
Set goals for the long run to show commitment
Goal-setting should be a two-way street as you and your client mutually set goals for your training sessions. Where do they see themselves in 3, 6, or 12 months? How do you plan to help them achieve those goals? It’s important to set aside your assumptions and let them take the lead on these goals, sometimes. As a trainer, you might feel like you can tell exactly what your client needs, and while you might be right, you should also work on negotiating with them and meeting them halfway. Remember that not everyone will have the same fitness and exercise goals, and that’s okay, but as long as you’re thinking of both long and short-term goals that are achievable, you’re showing them that you’re with them for the long haul.
Get to know your client on a slightly deeper level
Lastly, you should learn to be your client’s friend. This doesn’t mean you cross professional boundaries and become besties with them, but rather, you hear them out, let them open up to you, and be honest about their fears, challenges, and insecurities, supporting them in more ways than one. A trainer is so much more than just your gym instructor, it’s someone who sees you at your worst, and you’d want that person to treat you as an equal. It also allows you to be vulnerable and open about your own struggles, helping them feel less alone.
As a fitness trainer, your role goes beyond the gym or classes; what you say and do can often impact your clients directly and affect their mental, physical and emotional health in the process. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on. You should never shy away from working on your communication skills and abilities, developing more empathy, and improving your relationship with your clients.
Learn more about improving your services and working as a personal trainer and a certified group exercise instructor through our courses and training modules. We have some of the most highly-rated fitness trainer programs that include both online and in-person components and will equip you with not just the necessary knowledge and skill to train and coach but also provide you with interpersonal skills and insights. View our range of certifications here, or register for one of our other training and specialties today!