How to motivate your personal training clients: top tips

8 min read
Encourage your clients and help them achieve their fitness goals by using these top tips.

Encourage your clients and help them achieve their fitness goals by using these top tips.

A client's lack of motivation is a personal trainer's worst fear. They turn up to a training session and although they are physically there, they just don't have the energy or enthusiasm. Whether this is due to external distractions or feeling discouraged about their progress, it's a rut that can become harmful to your client and to you.

While a decrease in drive and confidence can be challenging to overcome, there are several strategies you can implement to encourage your clients and prevent them from feeling unmotivated during their fitness journeys.

To give you a hand, here are some of the top tips on how to motivate your personal training clients.

trainer at evolve fitness and health performance training a client


Photo Credit: Evolve Fitness Performance

Design and set attainable goals together

One of the biggest mistakes you could make with a new client early on is setting the bar too high. No new client wants to hear that in order to achieve their personal fitness goals they have to do the impossible or push themselves too far out of their comfort zones. Unachievable goals lead to lower morale and could cause a client to feel like they are failing before you have really even gotten started. Rather than making an assumption right off the bat of what your client is capable of, ask them what their expectations and goals are and what they are hoping to achieve with fitness and nutrition.

Designing a plan together that includes all of the elements your clients want to target can show them your professionalism and dedication to their success while providing a tangible outline of how exactly to achieve their goals. Knowing what to expect even if you add in new elements will ease your client's nerves and give them a sense of control and confidence going into every session.

Focus on a personalised approach

Clients have different goals and motivations for hiring a personal trainer or embarking on a fitness journey. Treating each client the same as you would another can result in a client feeling as if you do not really know what is best for them and don't have time for their personal needs. While focusing on each individual client does require you to invest more of your time, a personalised approach always leads to better results for you and each of your clients and boosts client retention.

As a PT the best thing you can do for yourself is to invest in a system that can help you streamline your client onboarding process. Collecting client information, fitness history, and personal details and goals in advance can speed up the process of a personalised plan for your client so that on day one you have everything you need to know to get started. Assuring each client that you are just as dedicated to them as to your other clients is fundamental in building your relationship and delivering the results they want to achieve one on one.

Offer optional group fitness sessions and classes in your program

While encouragement and your undivided attention could be one client's motivator, it can also make some clients feel pressured and overwhelmed. Building confidence doesn't always come quickly and clients who struggle to perform at their best solo may actually be better suited for sessions with other clients included. Having additional support and feeding off the energy of other clients during small-group fitness sessions can encourage a shier client to break out of their shell and fully participate. If you think a client could benefit from participating in group classes or sessions, don't hesitate to make that suggestion. The community and welcoming environment a group class offers can be just the thing your client needed to turn up their own motivation.

Include fresh new elements in your training sessions

Staying consistent with a program or carefully designed workout plan for clients is an important part of personal training. However, that does not mean that you should not incorporate fresh workouts and activities into your training sessions. Offering new workouts, scaling up in lifting weights, switching a HIIT workout with a LIIT workout, running a session outdoors, are just a few ideas for mixing it up while staying on track with the program. Remember that your clients want to progress, but they don't want to be bored doing the same thing over and over again. If a client is motivated by the idea of trying something new, listen to what they have to say and find a way to blend it into your programming.

Supply on-demand content to use at-home

Sometimes a client's lack of motivation comes from their inability to find time in their schedule to fit in their workouts. They miss a couple of sessions, fall out of rhythm, and struggle to continue. Supplying your clients with on-demand content including workout videos is the perfect solution for clients who are unable to meet in-person or clients who want additional resources to take advantage of from home. Now when a client has to cancel or re-schedule an appointment, that doesn't mean they can't still get their workout in.

You can even let your clients know which videos to do on the days when they don't have or can't make a session so that if there is a specific sequence or program they need to follow they can still do so without skipping a beat. That additional content covers your bases and supports your client's needs.

Celebrate your clients' milestones

Clients will often lose motivation or get down on themselves when they don't feel they are progressing fast enough, especially if they have a personal timeline they are trying to follow. Celebrating your clients' milestones, the amount of time they have been a client or sessions they have completed is a great way to show your clients how much they have progressed without associating a certain weight or numeric goal to their progress. Milestones reinforce the idea that this is a journey and progress takes time, but that there are many achievements to celebrate along the way.

Ask clients how they are feeling

While working with clients, making an assumption as to why they are feeling unmotivated can only lead to a larger lack of motivation. While it's your responsibility to do what is best for your clients, that doesn't mean leaving their feelings and opinions out of the equation. If you notice a client is not as enthusiastic about a session or repeatedly comes to sessions with little to no energy, ask them what is going on.

More likely than not, if you already have a good relationship and your client trusts you they will be willing to share. If you are still building your relationship with your client, this is the perfect opportunity to show them they can rely on you. Ask your clients how they are feeling and what you can do to help. Being able to talk about their lack of motivation might be just the thing they need to feel motivated again.

Bring positivity to every session...

The energy and positivity you bring with you to every session have a direct correlation to how a client will respond and act. While many trainers take the tough love approach, several studies actually suggest that the more positivity and praise of performance you share with your clients, the more likely they are to progress and improve. Offering compliments, words of encouragement, and advice and support will help your clients feel safe and comfortable with you. The rapport you build will translate into a client's eagerness to come to every session motivated and ready to go.

...But don't overdo it

On the other hand, coming to a session with the most energy and enthusiasm when you know your client is already feeling down on themselves can be a deterrent. Remember that all clients react differently to encouragement and have different levels of motivation. Stay positive and encouraging, but if you see that your client is still not motivated by your eagerness, tone it down and dig straight into the problem. You might even find out your clients feels too overwhelmed by the hype and prefers a more relaxed and easy-going environment to train. Knowing what motivates your clients is the best way to tailor every session to your client's needs and ensure they arrive in their best form.

To sum it up, listen understand what your client needs

Motivating your clients can come in different forms. Whether they are motivated by goals, your dedication to them as a client, or the environment in which they train, knowing your client's motivations will help you do the best job of encouraging your clients and adding constant value to their fitness journey and customer experience.

Sign in to your TeamUp dashboard or sign up for a free trial to start using our personal training software to provide your clients with an easy and enjoyable member experience.

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