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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 8 Reasons Clients Leave Their Trainers & How Up Your Game

8 Reasons Clients Leave Their Trainers & How Up To Your Game

Reading Time: 6 minutes


DATE: 2023-06-14

Ending any kind of relationship is hard—both personally and professionally. Sometimes, there is a good reason for a client and a personal trainer to part ways. However, there are times when issues between a coach and client can be mended or eliminated.

If you are aware of the potential issues and take intentional steps to prevent or resolve them, you may be able to reduce client loss.

If you have a coaching business in any niche, losing clients is not something you want to experience frequently. In this article, we explore eight reasons why clients leave their coaches and provide insight that can help you minimize client loss.

Some of the content below is geared toward trainers and coaches in the health and fitness industry (nutrition coach, health coach, fitness instructor, etc.). However, there are many different types of coaching businesses (financial coach, business coach, life coach, career coach, etc.) and the content is applicable for almost any type of client-coach relationship.

8 Reasons Clients Leave Their Personal Trainers and What to Do About It

There are many reasons why a personal training client and trainer would part ways. The following list includes eight of the most common reasons why the coaching relationship comes to an end:

1. Expectations

Many clients leave their trainers because of unmet expectations. Potential clients may have an idea of how things work based on a movie, friend, or previous experience. However, you won't know that unless you discuss their expectations with them.

Minimize this issue by setting clear expectations with each other from the very first training session. Remember, it goes both ways. It's important to understand the client's expectations and ensure the client is clear on what you expect from them. You should both be on the same page with things like the client's fitness goal, the commitment it will take by both of you to get there, timeliness, and how and when to communicate.

2. Poor Communication

Communication is one of the most important components of any relationship. So, if you own a gym or other type of fitness coaching business, there are a few things you'll want to ensure you're implementing when communicating with your clients.

  • Speak your clients' language: Although you know the technical terms within your field, you'll want to save them for conversations with your colleagues. Many clients (especially a new client) may not have the same expert knowledge you have, and they need to be able to understand what you're saying. So, when you're coaching, use words that are easy to follow and explain further when needed.

  • Provide clients with a way to contact you: It's common for clients to have questions outside of their coaching sessions with you. If that is true of your fitness business, you should have an appropriate way for clients to contact you. This doesn't mean they can reach out to you at any time of the day and expect an immediate response from you, but you should have an email or messaging app for your personal training business where they can reach you if needed.

  • Don't overload them with info: It's common for coaches to overshare information with clients in an attempt to help them during coaching sessions. However, too much info can be confusing for the client. Keep info clear, concise, and focus on what's most important. You can share more info in a later personal training session as they progress.

3. Not a Good Fit

Some fitness professionals and clients aren't a good fit for each other—and that's okay! It doesn't mean the client won't be successful or the coach isn't good, it's just not ideal for them to work together. You must understand your ideal potential client, stay within your scope of practice, and try to identify if a relationship is a bad match as early as possible. However, keep in mind, if a client is not a good fit, remain professional, authentic, and kind. If appropriate, help them find a better fit! All interactions are a representation of you and your coaching business.

4. They've Reached Their Goals

This is ideally where you want your clients to end up—they've established and consistently maintained healthier behaviors. Some clients may want your coaching and accountability even during their maintenance phase, but others will move on simply because they've accomplished what they wanted to with you! Make them feel comfortable leaving when they're ready to and let them know you're there for them if they need you in the future.

5. Life Changes

Things like a sudden move, job loss, or divorce can alter a client's relationship with you. If changes in a client's life stress them financially, become more of a priority, or prevent them from attending coaching sessions with you, you may lose them as a client.

You can't always see these types of situations coming but you can try to help clients navigate how to prioritize their goals while dealing with big changes. For example, if you're a personal trainer and finances become an issue for a client, you might suggest small group training. Clients pay less per training session, but other clients are participating in the session as well. Maybe your client is willing and able to continue coaching sessions with you online.

If you can help them see other options, they may continue with you. But for some clients, those life changes may be where you part ways as their personal trainer.

6. Lack of Organization/Professionalism

We are all human—mistakes happen. However, if you are consistently late, forget your sessions, are unprepared or unorganized, you will likely run into issues with your clients. They are investing time, energy, and money into you, so it's important to take your coaching business seriously and develop systems, boundaries, and processes that help you stay organized and provide a good experience for your clients.

7. Workouts Are Too Hard (Or Too Easy)

Clients want to get results.

If you're a health and fitness coach, you know that the body adapts when it's challenged beyond its "normal" stress (overload principle)—sometimes that means muscle soreness. However, clients should not be in extreme pain or unable to function for days after their workout. This will very likely scare them off. Also, keep in mind, clients want to feel like they got a workout, so make sure you understand each clients' fitness level and design their workout accordingly.

8. Your Clients Aren't Getting Results

Clients are coming to you because they want help with something. They want your coaching, knowledge, and support. Sometimes, not seeing results is due to a client's inconsistency with the plan. However, sometimes, it's the coach. If you don't know what you're doing, have poor programming, or aren't making efforts to hold them accountable, clients may not continue.

Invest in yourself so you know what you're during. Customize your training, coaching, and sessions for each client so you're not putting them through the same "cookie-cutter" plan.

How Should a Personal Trainer Cancel a Training Contract a Client?

Sometimes personal trainers may need to end their professional relationship with a client. While it's important to handle the situation with care and professionalism, here are some steps trainers can follow when canceling a training contract with their clients:

  1. Reflect on the decision: Take some time to consider the reasons for wanting to end the training relationship. It could be due to scheduling conflicts, lack of commitment from the client, safety concerns, or a mismatch in goals or values.

  2. Review the contract: If there is a signed contract between the trainer and client, review the terms and conditions related to termination. Understand any cancellation policies, notice periods, or other contractual obligations.

  3. Choose the right time and method: Select an appropriate time and method to communicate your decision. In-person communication is generally preferred, but if that's not possible, a phone call or email can be used. Avoid canceling sessions abruptly without any explanation.

  4. Be honest and respectful: When discussing the decision with the client, be honest about your reasons for wanting to end the training contract. Be respectful and maintain a professional tone throughout the conversation. Avoid personal attacks or criticism of the client.

  5. Offer training alternatives or referrals: If appropriate, provide alternative options or referrals to other trainers or fitness facilities that may better meet the client's needs and goals. This gesture shows that you genuinely care about their fitness journey and well-being.

  6. Follow contract guidelines: If there are any contractual obligations related to notice periods or refunds, ensure that you adhere to them. Communicate any necessary details regarding the return of unused sessions or equipment, if applicable.

  7. Maintain professionalism: Even after canceling a training contract with a client, continue to act professionally and maintain confidentiality. Avoid discussing the specifics of the cancellation with other clients or colleagues.

Ending a professional relationship with a client can be challenging, but sometimes it's necessary for both parties to move forward. By approaching the situation with respect, honesty, and professionalism, personal trainers can navigate the split in a considerate manner.

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