In order for trainers be “successful,” they must examine their ability to “keep” current clients. In the field of personal training, where motivation and personality are as vital as practical knowledge, the mainstay of those attributes lies in the ability for clients to reach their fitness goals. Obviously, if a client reaches a fitness goal, he will thank you and be very appreciative, and with that comes great marketability, referrals and confidence. With confidence comes a map to success. Once you taste success, you want to experience it every time.
However, there are bumps along the way. A busy trainer doesn’t just have one client or maybe two. A busy trainer usually has 20 and up to 45 clients per week. Trying to motivate all of your clients on a weekly basis can be a tedious, energy consuming task. Sometimes when you are on your sixth or seventh client of the day, you are tired, drained and hungry. People like you and me wake up every morning “planning” to attend the gym or exercise. Sedentary individuals who have entered the “action” stage need constant motivation to continuously plan ahead. This can be difficult for the trainer, which is why trainers don’t always keep every client. You get “drop outs,” which is normal in the personal training field.
For every lost client, you must try to obtain two or three new ones. In order to make a living at personal training and enjoy it as a profession, it needs to be rewarding on a human as well as financial level.
Many trainers start out with a passion to help others, but then they realize they have to work at retaining regular clients. They begin to hate the “business” side of personal training. They hate the “work” aspect of the career. Some trainers go above and beyond because they are highly motivated to succeed, and some remain just satisfactory because they are motivated by other things.
So what does this have to do with anything? I’ll tell you a story about a friend of mine who is a personal trainer. He loves sharing his knowledge with people and is quite good at it. However, he is unhappy with the fact that he is only paid based on the amount of work he puts into drumming up his business. For instance, he can only “handle” five clients a week at $70 a session each. That’s only $350 a week he's earning for his services. He doesn’t want to look for prospective clients because it takes a lot of effort to build rapport, design a new exercise program, assess and carry out that plan, so his business suffers and so does his wallet. His clients experience his frustration with the direction his career is going and sense a loss of passion on his part. This can be experienced by monotony in workouts, decreased energy and enthusiasm during sessions and frequently cancelled sessions (by both parties). So my friend would rather rely on passive income. Once he begins to rely on passive income, he realizes that passive income is sporadic and is not constant like active income. Active income requires constant attention and drive. Active income requires that you get up every morning and try your hardest to lure in a new client to replace the clients you will eventually lose. Active income resembles the time you spend periodizing a workout for a client, all of the research you do for a client, all of the templates you put together for a client and all the openness you share with a client. But in the end, my friend just sits back down and is satisfied with his $350 a week.
Good trainers will always have clients who have been with them for years. These clients fall into two categories:
- Clients who experience success (have lost fat or gained muscle).
- Clients who love the interaction and camaraderie with a personal trainer.
With either category, the trainer is enjoying a continuous flow of income AND constant referral source. Clients who stay with you for long periods are your best marketers. They talk about your workouts, your personality, your work ethic, your passion and your commitment to help them achieve their goals. With so much admiration being created for you as a personal trainer, why wouldn’t anyone want to work with you?
So if you are presently a personal trainer, on your own or through a health club, here are five tips to help you retain your clients or get new ones.
1) Always use the term “we.”
We will get to your goal in six weeks.” “We should be able to hit that 225 bench next week.” “We better get to it because your marathon is coming up.” Clients love feeling like they are in a partnership with you. Clients look up to their personal trainer and when they feel like you are “sharing” their fitness goal, they feel more supported, more confident and more obligated to not let you down.
2) Show the client the right and wrong way to perform an exercise.
Always demonstrate the right and wrong way of an exercise to clients because it empowers them with knowledge. If a client can visually see the wrong way to perform an exercise, he is more apt to perform it correctly. You can even point out people in the gym performing exercises incorrectly to your clients. This act of empowerment builds trust between you and the client and also re-establishes your role as the educator.
3) Don’t be afraid to speak to your client about things other than exercise!
This happens all of the time. The trainer and client are finished with a set, and they just stand there and don’t say two words to each other. There is no communication! The trainer must not be afraid to talk about the weekend, the kids or the TV show they watched last night - just don’t get lost in the conversation! How awkward is it for the client who grunts and sweats in front of their trainer every day but does not feel comfortable around them? You must establish a relationship with your client, and its okay to talk about life with them. It’s okay to cross that line a little. So many trainers are robots and become fearful of “being unprofessional.” But guess what? YOU control what you say. YOU control what you talk about. YOU control how long you want to talk. This leads to number four.
4) You must control the session.
A client must understand that the fitness professional should steer the session. Some clients may be CEOs or aggressive types, but in the fitness realm, you are the CEO! If you are confident in your ability, confident in YOUR workplace and confident that you can help your client, then you must control the session. You must control the exercise selection, the pace, conversation, length and rest periods. The trainer has “home field advantage” and needs to establish the direction and leadership.
5) Acknowledge your clients when you see them.
When you are with Jane and you see your client Bob working on those Russian Twists you taught him, make sure you greet or make eye contact with him. Assure him that you are watching him and notice he’s made an effort to come in for a workout on his own. Your client's face will light up like a wild fire. As humans, we all like to be acknowledged by name or face. As confidence grows, this becomes particularly true in most cases. So, don’t have blinders on with one client. Keep your eyes moving across the entire gym floor and “scan” for your regulars.
These traits are what score you the next potential new client. If you apply these five tips to your present clients, you should have an easy time receiving referrals or obtaining that lady on the treadmill who has watched you every morning during your 10 o’clock session!