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7 Best Communication Tips for Personal Trainers

Reading Time: 5 minutes 30 seconds


DATE: 2024-06-25

Communication is not a skill you are born with, but it is something you can learn, practice, and master. And why should you? Because communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, including the professional partnership between client and trainer.

When you communicate well with personal training clients, you improve their results, attract more clients, build trust, and more. You can always get better at communicating, so don’t rest easy assuming you’re good at it. Learn and practice.

Why Is Effective Communication Essential in Personal Training? 

Everything about training relies on effective communication. You are transmitting knowledge and experience, relaying workouts and good form, and also motivating clients to make positive changes. All of this requires communication. The better your skills in this field, the more effective you will be at leading clients to their goals. Good communication goes a long way toward: 

  • Building rapport and trust with clients

  • Motivating clients to do the work and to persevere through difficult periods

  • Educating clients about exercise, nutrition, form, and more

  • Getting better results for clients

  • Attracting new clients and keeping current clients

  • Leading other people to success

  • Being professional

Top Communication Tips for Personal Trainers Working with Clients

You might be naturally social, extroverted, or talkative, but ultimately, communication is a skill. It’s something you can and should work to improve, not just now, but throughout your career. Here are some tips to get you started and a note about non-verbal communication. 

Communication Tips for Personal Trainers Include Non-Verbal Skills

As you learn more about communicating successfully with clients, keep in mind that it involves more than just what you say. Body language is a huge component of communication in all areas of life, and that includes when working with clients. 

Each of these tips—except, of course, online communications—includes both verbal and non-verbal cues. If how you communicate non-verbally isn’t something you’ve thought of before, it’s a good idea to consider it now. You say a lot with body language, so be aware of how you move through a training session and how you react to clients. You could be sending messages you never intended. 

Challenging clients will really test your communication skills. Read more about how to work successfully with difficult clients

1. Practice Active Listening

If you have ever listened to someone talk and let your mind wander, you already understand what active listening is because you weren’t doing it. Active listening means really hearing someone and showing them that you heard. This is important for clients because it tells them you care and helps them trust you. 

On your end as the trainer, active listening allows you to get important information that helps you do your job better. When you really listen to your clients, you can plan better workouts, anticipate problems, and come up with solutions for better results. Here’s what active listening looks like: 

  • Show you’re listening. Here’s where you can use body language. Face your client. Make eye contact. Put your phone down. Don’t let distractions get to you. 

  • Reflect back. Repeat some of what your client just told you so they know you’re listening and you know you heard correctly. 

  • Ask questions. Even if you don’t have a question, ask for clarification to get them to open up more. 

  • Avoid judgment. Resist the urge to interrupt someone to correct a statement or cast judgment. Let them finish their thoughts. 

2. Watch Your Tone

Words matter and body language says a lot, but don’t overlook tone. Do you sound condescending? Bored? Or do you sound interested and engaged? It’s not always easy to judge one’s own tone, so if you aren’t sure, ask someone you trust—perhaps another trainer or your boss—for feedback. 

While talking to clients, think about how you say things. Aim to sound friendly but professional, interested, and enthusiastic. Even if you’re not in the mood to be cheerful or engaged, do it anyway. This is what good communication is all about. You convey a message with your tone, no matter what your current mod. 

3. Ask Direct Questions

A lot of clients will be inclined to listen to their trainers without offering much feedback. It’s how we learned to be students in school, after all. To better get to know your clients and help them reach their goals, you need more information. 

You need a dialogue, which means engaging your clients. Ask them questions constantly to learn more and to get to know them. Ask how an exercise makes them feel? Ask if they liked the workout or want to do anything differently. Ask if they are happy with their results? 

4. Practice What You Say to Clients

Word choice is essential, so it shouldn’t always be on the fly. You know your subject, but don’t assume that means you will always communicate it clearly. Especially if you are new to training, it helps to practice. When you don’t put at least a little thought into what you’ll say, you can end up rambling and losing your clients. 

Recruit friends or family to do practice training sessions. You might even write up a script for explaining specific exercises, talking about nutrition, performing assessments, and giving pep talks for client motivation. Get feedback from your guinea pigs and figure out how to get your message across better. 

5. Remember the 7 C’s

A simple guide to follow as you plan and practice what to say to clients is known as the 7 C’s of effective communication

  • Concise. Be brief and to the point. Using more words than you need only leads to confusion. 

  • Complete. Don’t let concision compromise completion, though. Make sure your clients have everything they need to know. 

  • Coherent. Structure your message in a way that makes sense and is organized. 

  • Clear. Make your message clear by avoiding jargon or idioms that could be confusing. Especially with newbie clients, use terms they will understand. 

  • Courteous. Be respectful and kind in how you talk to your clients. Tone is a big part of this. 

  • Concrete. While also being courteous, be authoritative. Remember, you are the expert. 

  • Correct. Make sure your communications, especially online, are grammatically and syntactically correct to avoid confusion. 

6. Master Written and Online Communication 

Trainers increasingly work online, some entirely. Even if you work with clients in person, you’ll probably communicate with them via email, apps, and social media. All of the above rules apply to communicating effectively online, but there’s more: 

  • Proofread everything you write. 

  • Be responsive to clients. Answer their emails and posts as soon as reasonably possible. 

  • Set boundaries and be clear with clients when they can contact you. 

  • Send reminders of appointments and session expectations. 

  • Use online calendars to make scheduling clearer. 

  • Be professional, even in texts or social media posts when you might otherwise use more relaxed language. 

Are you an online personal trainer? Here are some more tips for being a good communicator online

7. Always Use Positive Reinforcement

Never assume your clients know that they are doing well and working hard. They need to hear it from you. Use it wisely, though, and tailor it to each client. For those who walked into the gym the first time feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, note how their confidence has increased. 

For clients who have never lifted a weight before, admire the strength they’ve gained. In general, stay away from reinforcing improvements in weight or body image. Focus on everything else your clients improve on, such as mental health, strength, flexibility, running distance, and more. 

Great Trainers Know More Than Just How to Exercise

Being a good personal trainer involves so much more than a passion for fitness and the right credentials. Trainers are people-oriented and must be able to communicate effectively. Even if you think you are good at communication, keep working on it. There is always room for improvement. 

Expand Your Training with a Personal Trainer Certification

With the ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer Self-Guided Study Program, you can start your personal training career sooner than you think. Work at your own pace and get ready to take on paying clients. 

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7 C’s of Effective Communication in the Workplace | Indeed.com. Indeed Career Guide. (2020). Retrieved 8 July 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/cs-of-communication.

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