Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Talkative Client

I think over the years I have run into every possible client I can have: The skeptic...the over-achiever...the whiner...the skeptic...and the champ...the list goes on!

But there's always the talkative client. The one that always keeps the jaws moving and the conversation about absolutely nothing that I am interested in. Trust me, I do believe in making a connection with clients to hear their day to day experiences, BUT I am very interested in getting them closer to their goal. When the gabbing continues, I know that they cannot physically give me 100% effort--especially when my plans are to increase the load or complexity of the movement.

Over the years, I have come up with ways to decrease the gabbing during the workout: circuits & intervals. Yep...with virtually no rest in between and a constant flow of energy consuming activity, I really don't give the client much room for mouth flapping. We roll from one exercise to another with no rest or some minimal periods of deep breaths or water bottle sips, and then its right back to the next exercise.

There are moments of empty conjecture. It is usually done before the "meat" of the workout, or at the end, when the grand finale has ended. Like bookends, there's only a limited couple of opportunities to jib-jab before we get into the nitty-gritty of a session.

Now I do this because I have come to understand why some of my clients are "talkative". Not all are motor mouths or lonely souls. Some what I call "nervous talkers". Here is what I have gathered from my experience, and you may have also found similarities:

1.) Decrease intimidation: Most of my clients are typically nervous during the first few sessions and since they are new to being "trained", they feel insecure and inadequate. Very common and being talkative is a natural reaction. My advice? Let them talk it out--get the nerves calm and get it out of their system. In time, as the trainer and client establish a trust and comfort with one-another, the client will not need to speak too much.

2.) Awkward silent - Many clients feel they need to talk during silent times of a session. Although I am not sure why a session would be quiet, it is just another reaction to the level of comfort you and your client are in. Soon enough, the two of you will be totally comfortable in that awkward silence.

3.) Lonely client - Okay..so maybe your client doesn't get enough attention at home, or doesn't have a social outlet. You have taken on that role. Want to quiet them down? One answer: squat thrusts. Hehehehe...
In seriousness, connecting with your client is important. It supports an effective line of communication that will enable you to coach them more effectively. If they talk too much, explain to them that "getting them closer to their goal is all business" and they should not be offended if your replies are quick and short.

I wrote about many of the untaught logistics of clients dynamics in my book Secret Skills of Personal Training.


  1. I like to use the line, "Less talkie, more workie" They usually get the point after that - and hopefully I don't come across as a total jackass, haha.

    Another good one is the circuit, like you mentioned - Not much time to talk, when you have to complete a tri-set of dumbell swings, push-ups, and inverted rows with no more than 15-30 seconds rest.

  2. after 22yrs, small talk is very difficult for me, I limit my female client list to 5, thats my max for chatting.

  3. Good thing you brought this one up John. It is unfortunate that some clients possess the gift of the gab, ha ha...thanks for highlighting the issue and for offering sensible tips on dealing with these clients. Keep up the great work.

    Rick Kaselj

  4. I have one client who is so socially awkward that he barely talks during the session! At the opposite end of the spectrum it makes for a very frustrating session where getting verbal feedback is pretty dam close to impossible.

  5. Hehehehe...I have a client--who is actually a CEO a very LARGE company (discreet) and he has NO personality! So I know what you mean about awkwardness!!


Thanks for checking out the blog and commenting!