Friday, August 12, 2011

5 Simple Ways to Retain Your Personal Training Clients

I believe that in order for a trainer to call him/herself “successful”, I must examine his/hers’ 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 a client to reach their fitness goal. Obviously, if a client reaches a fitness goal, they will thank you and grant you an abundance of praises. 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 your clients on a weekly basis can be a tedious, energy consuming skill. So I understand that sometimes when you are down to 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 that have entered the “action” stage need constant adherence and motivation to continuously plan ahead. This can be difficult for the trainer, so I understand that you don’t always keep every client you obtain. You do get “drop-outs” and that is normal in the personal training field.

I also understand that for every lost client you suffer, 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 rewarding on a human level and financial level.

Many trainers that begin in the field start out with a passion to help others—which is the main foundation of the craft—but then they realize that 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. That is fine too. I don’t think there is a company in the world that employs staff with an equal level of work production. Some employees go above and beyond because they are motivated by one thing and some remain satisfactory because they are motivated by other things.

Good trainers will always have clients that have been with them for years. And you know who these clients are? They fall into 2 categories:

a.) Clients who experience success (have lost fat or gained muscle) or

b.) Clients whom 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 that 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 5 tips to help you retain your clients or get new ones:

1.) Always use the term “We”.

In your communication with your client, always use the term “we”.

“We will get to your goal in 6 weeks”…

“We ought to 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 the 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.

I have always demonstrated the right way and wrong way of an exercise to a client because I believe it empowers the client with knowledge. I believe that if a client can visually see the wrong way to perform an exercise, they are more apt to perform it correctly. I even go so far as point out people in the gym performing exercises incorrectly to my client. And while we stand there and watch, I’ll explain “why” and “what exactly” is wrong with the way the exercise is being performed. 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!

I see this all 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; or 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 me to number four.

4.) The Trainer Must Control the Session.

A client must understand that the fitness professional must steer the session. Some clients may be CEO’s or aggressive types, but in the fitness realm—you are the CEO! If you are confident in your ability, confident in YOUR workplace, and you are 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 Client 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. I can’t tell you how many times, and how bright a client’s face lit up, when I said “Hey Frank!”, when I was working with someone else. Their faces light up like 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. And I guarantee, if you apply these 5 tips to your present client list….you should have an easy time receiving referrals or obtaining that lady on the treadmill that watched you every morning train your 10 o’clock client!

More tips like this are available in my book, Secret Skills of Personal Training. Thanks for reading!


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