In a good situation, a client will train 3 times a week. In a great situation, those 3 times will be with you. However, over a week which lasts 168 hours, those 3 hours equals less than 2% of the week. Where do you think the client is likely to win or lose when it comes to results? In the 98% or the 2%? I hope you said the former!
What Can Go Wrong?
Your client leaves your session buzzing. They feel pumped and motivated and they go away fully intending to eat right, get to bed on time, move daily and do the program you set. But then, life gets in the way: a friend’s birthday, a bad day at work, a poorly child, a new box set on Netflix. There’s a million things that could throw your client off track, and unless you are present, all your great work in your PT session will be undone.
So, What Can You Do?
You need to create accountability. Do you have you a system in place for the client to check in with you through the week, and for you to check in with them? I hear trainers constantly asking clients at the start of a session saying “So, how have you been since last week?” “Not great, I haven’t trained, my diet wasn’t good…I had a bad week!”
What a great start to the session! If you had been in touch during the week, you would already know that and it may not have happened. As a bare minimum, you should be contacting your client the day after a session to say well done, thanks and ask them how they are. But if you are setting up habits such as “try and stretch every couple of hours”, would a little text to remind them multiple times a week be a bad thing? Now there are much smarter ways you can do this.
Apps make life easier. Not only do they look professional, but they can provide you a SYSTEM.
Apps can track your client’s nutrition, schedule emails and texts, notify you when your clients have trained, and can allow you to add programs, videos, send articles and a heap more. You can also schedule in body measurement assessments and record them in one handy place. There are many apps out there, but to name a few, check out Trainerize, MyPTHub, PTMinder, and PT Distinction.
Create a Support Network
Golan (2009) found that men who entered in to a weight loss plan lost more weight when their wives joined them in the program compared to those who entered alone. Coupled with the success of weight loss groups like Weight Watchers and Slimming World, social support is something your clients crave and need. So how can you do this?
Things that have been successful for me in the past include:
- A client Whatsapp group – encourage them to message when they train, when they have achieved a goal or to ask any questions. It’s so motivating to your client when the rest of your tribe begin to support and congratulate them.
- Activity challenges – people love a Fitbit workweek hustle, don’t they? You can set up mini challenges for your clients: most steps, most workouts, most food eaten in a day (ok, that last one was a joke, but you get the idea). I love using MYZONE and creating challengers based on MYZONE effort points or MEPs.
- Social media groups – have a client only Facebook group where you can post support messages and share exercise/recipes/motivation tips etc. Also sharing client success (ex. having a client of the month) is a great way to give your client recognition, but also keep them focused.
- Group measurements – you could set up your own weight watchers-style group, which includes measurement taking every couple of weeks with some nutrition education. It is a fantastic model for Weight Watchers. Your clients will likely increase adherence knowing their measurements are being taking in a few days’ time. If group measurements aren’t for you, then definitely schedule in regular tracking assessments. A staggering 66% of trainers weren’t taking ANY measurements at a recent company I worked for, and not knowing they were progressing was the number 1 reason why clients left a PT’s service.
P.S. - the above are also great retention tools too. No one likes to leave a group they feel like they belong to.
Client’s come to us for success but time after time, after accomplishing certain goals, I see a trainer say “Well done” with no reward! You lose a pound at a weight loss group and you get a certificate. Guess where that certificate goes? All over your client’s social media. They will tell all their friends and that weight loss group will get a heap of referrals. Imagine if you gave your client something similar. That would be your business receiving all those referrals.
So why don’t you? A well-done card, a certificate (you can design some professional looking ones on Canva) or a little gift (the more personal the better) can fire up your client and lead to increased motivation, better results and a client for life.
Bonus tip: You can create postcards with a custom photo and text on an app called Postagram. Add a photo of their before and after, or them training, or a results graph with some words of thank you and well done, and they will be buzzing.
What your clients do when they are not with you is just as (if not more) important than the time they spend with you. 98% of the week they are probably not exercising. You need to have a presence in that time by creating accountability and support to maximize chances of success and retention.
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