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7 Tips to Keep the Clients Coming Back

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Are clients losing interest in training?

Are Clients Losing Interest in Training?

As personal trainers, our mission is to help clients achieve their goals. It’s a simple mission when you think about it, but how do we retain clients once we have helped them get to where they want to be? There are certain tools we can use to reassure our clients that we are always thinking about them, their results, and will commit to them long-term.   

It’s in the Job Description

Let’s break down the term, “personal trainer.” What does this actually mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘personal’ as, “relating to the person or body.” While the term ‘trainer’ is defined as, “one that trains, or a person who treats the ailments.”

At the ISSA we believe that those two definitions combined make up the perfect job description, eloquently expressing the duties and responsibilities of a personal trainer.

You see, for your current or potential clients to experience success, everything you do for them should be based upon their individuality, not what works for the masses or the general population.

When a client can see and feel that they’re receiving your full attention and effort, they feel comfortable enough to let their guard down and form a more personal relationship with you. The connection between the two of you will increase accountability, responsibility, and reduce resistance to possible changes!

It doesn’t matter if a client is a bit of a handful. You know the ones I’m talking about:

  • they test your patience,
  • they question everything you say,
  • they ask about every new product they see on the infomercials,
  • they don’t fill out their food journal or remember their HRM.

Your mindset should always be “client-centered,” because, in the end, it’s about them, their results, their satisfaction and happiness, and their health, not yours.

Effective relationships are built on trust, communication, honesty, and integrity.

  • Present clear expectations and goals.
  • Be honest and allow communication to flow both ways.
  • Give your clients 100% of your energy every moment.

These actions, done consistently, will pave the way toward long-term success - for your client’s health and your business.

Seven Principles and Practices for Client Retention

#1 - Honesty and Positivity

You need to make sure that you keep your relationship both honest and positive. If your client slips up or isn’t progressing as expected, you need to let them know. Don’t sit back and pretend you’re client is doing just fine. Speak up and address the issue, but be careful not to ‘point the finger’ and place blame. Rather, help them take responsibility for their situation.

If you think your client isn’t following the plan you outlined for them, sit them down and talk to them. Help them figure out the underlying reason for why they aren’t seeing results. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions!

  • Are they stressed?
  • Have they been following their plan?
  • Have they been sick?
  • Are they working more hours?
  • Are they taking care of personal obligations?

My client Michael and I have been working together for the past two years. When asked about our level of honesty and positivity with regards to one another, he said,

“Tom doesn't let you use excuses. He unapologetically tells you the truth and what you need to hear. This not only has allowed me to see things from a different perspective but has attributed to my success within the timeframe which I have spent working with him.”

#2 - Proper Terminology and Explanations

You should be able to explain your programming to each client in a way they will understand. How much does your client know about fitness and nutrition and how interested are they in learning more? 

Explain to them how each exercise contributes to their goals. Share with them the benefits of drinking that green smoothie or getting up from their desk and stretching occasionally. But don’t use technical jargon unless you know they’re savvy to the lingo.

The goal is to further your client’s comprehension, increase their confidence in the program, and increase their autonomy so they understand the program and adhere to it.

“When I first started working with Tom I had a fitness goal in mind that I wasn’t sure I could ever attain. I wanted to find a way to get abs while continuing to get stronger and put on lean mass. Tom met with me to go over our game plan, figure out where we would start with my macros, cardio routine, and strength-training program. I was skeptical on if I could ever follow the macro plan and hit my daily numbers but Tom was able to explain to me not just how to follow the outline, but why certain variables were in places while others weren’t.”

#3 - Build a Stronger Bond

Get to know your clients inside and out. Everyone has bad days, deals with daily stressors, and has to fulfill personal obligations. Life happens, right?

If you notice that something seems “off” or your client is losing focus, take the time to address the situation. If this means that your client opens up to you regarding family or personal dilemmas, you now have an opportunity to build a great deal of trust in the relationship.

You may end up telling them to take time away from the gym to handle their current situation. Trying to force someone to “push” through an obstacle can do more harm than good.

Once your client sees that you care for their overall success and not just their physique, they will start to value and respect you like never before. They will trust you more and remain open to honest communication which will ultimately motivate them to stay on track with their fitness program because they don’t want to let you down.

In a situation like this, remember that there is a fine line between offering advice and overstepping your boundaries. Do NOT force an issue or offer to help beyond your scope of practice.

#4 - Be Flexible

I’ve already mentioned and we all know, life happens. It is important to give your clients space in the face of extreme stress or daunting obstacles. However, you should be keen enough to recognize when a client is making up excuses and professional enough to nip it in the bud.

For example, let’s say you have an online client who checks in with you every Thursday. If that client happens to miss a check-in and you don’t hear from them as you typically would, send them a message or email as a reminder. Get them to commit to a check-in as soon as possible so they can stay on track.

If your client has also failed to fill out their workout log or nutrition journal, then your client may be struggling. It’s time to find out why. Get in touch with them and let them know you are thinking about them and care about their success. Give them the opportunity to ask you questions or share their concerns. Change the program as necessary based on their feedback.

#5 - Further Your Education

Don’t limit your potential by strictly following only one method of training. Keep learning!

If you close your mind to alternative exercise and nutrition strategies you will not only derail your own personal growth, but your client’s as well. Don’t allow yourself to become apart of a certain “camp” of thought; low carbs, keto, flexible dieting, set meal plans, or anything else in-between. Leave room for variability and remember that everyone is different.

If you further your education by acquiring a broader base of skillsets, you will increase your value to current clients and open the door to working with a larger, more diverse clientele.

“I decided to work with Thomas a couple a month's ago after seeing how incredible the transformations were from the people that were currently working with him. Upon starting with Thomas I was nervous about the amount of  calories he set forth in my protocol, as I have never ate this many carbs before (231 carbs). Over the course of our time together we've been able to increase my daily calories from 1200 per day to up over 2200. At first, I was taken back, but I trusted him and have been able to get stronger, leaner, and have made progressive strides building my self-esteem both inside and outside of the gym!”

#6 - Establish Habits That Build Value

Show your clients how to make fitness an active part of their lives. Discourage “all or nothing” thinking. Behaving as if fitness must take over every other aspect of life puts clients at risk for failing in other areas of life - work, relationships, etc. Of course, this is far from the goal of personal training.

Teach your clients how to effectively and practically prioritize their health. When fitness and nutrition fit easily into their daily lives, you’ll see an increase in their consistency, energy, commitment, and most importantly, enjoyment.

You can help them stay accountable to these habits by checking in with them during their sessions. Ask them if they met their goal of drinking 60 ounces of water each day. If they had a hard time, ask how you can support them in reaching that goal. While they are with you, take notice of any behavior that supports their goals. For instance, if they drink a whole bottle of water during your training session, congratulate them and remind them to add it to their nutrition log!

#7 - Professional, Service-oriented Web Presence

Market yourself within a service-oriented system. Invest in a professional website, business cards, and brand your social media accounts to match. Make your services available to potential clients via each of these platforms so they can read about and access your services on demand.

  1. Answer common questions.
  2. Describe your training philosophy.
  3. Share client testimonials.
  4. Offer guidance and support.
  5. Give potential clients a way to contact you.
  6. Celebrate client achievements.

Remember, the key to client retention is to make your business all about your client, not you. Use your online presence to demonstrate your service-oriented approach to training and your clients will see that you are truly committed to them and they will remain committed to you, too.

For more tips to keep you at the top of your game as a personal trainer, check out our top tips from other trainers out in the field. Then, check out our nutrition course to add to your knowledge and boost your business. 

Thomas Munck