If you have been working as a trainer for a while, you know that motivating some clients can be as challenging as pulling teeth. You know the type of clients I am talking about, who moan and complain about the training regimen, who lean heavily upon the phrase “I can’t”, and who make you want to rip your hair out in frustration. You became a fitness professional partially due to your passion for fitness and partially out of a deep need to inspire others and to guide them towards reaching their fitness goals, right? So why would some people resist your efforts to help them when it should be obvious that you have created a career around getting people fit? Sometimes clients can be so highly resistant that no trainer or coach will ever be able to get through to them, but sometimes the trainer may have a hand in the breakdown in communication.
One of the biggest rifts which can occur between a trainer and a client is one in which the trainer has forgotten how to relate to the average person. While a trainer’s immersion in the world of gyms and exercise equipment is a natural outgrowth of his interest in fitness, that immersion might cause him to forget somewhere along the way that fitness newbies might not understand or be able to relate to the “gym is life” mindset. Non-fitness people are often extremely intimidated by health club or gym environments for a multitude of reasons. They may find the experience of navigating through a plethora of exercise equipment completely terrifying. They may question their ability to perform exercises with the proper degree of coordination, balance and strength. Though clients hire trainers for their expertise and their ability to motivate, some of them are so reliant on their self-defeatist thoughts, simply because the pattern is familiar, that they often sabotage the trainers’ efforts. Such clients may even hold onto the notion that asking their trainers too many questions may be embarrassing, and if the trainers aren’t very perceptive, breakdowns in communication can easily occur.
The most successful trainers and coaches understand that there is a great deal of psychology behind personal training. For every gung-ho client who is ready to give 100%, there is a client who is indecisive and non-committal. You will have the best chance of building a rewarding trainer-client relationship with the latter type of client if you make an effort to address his or her concerns. Instead of focusing solely on the physical component of training, you will become far better as a trainer if you tap into the mental and spiritual components of your client’s transformation. Another important skill which you should develop is the willingness to adapt a client’s training regimen so that it accommodates any true physical limitations. If you practice a militant approach with all of your clients without taking into account valid physical restrictions, you run the risk of not only injuring your clients, but also of losing your clients’ interest and respect. Make sure to clearly define goals with your clients which are congruent with what they hope to achieve, not what you think they want to achieve.