It is a true privilege when someone trusts you with their goals and it is not something to be taken lightly. Most people become personal trainers because they want to help people and some because they like working out. Whatever your reason is if you want to be known as one of the best personal trainers in the market, and get referral after referral, then you need to be following the 10 commandments for personal trainers.
- Listen to Understand
- 1 Small Win ASAP – Focus on just 1 thing right at the beginning
- 2nd Small Win – Journaling
- Know What They Need
- Set Them Up For Success
- Check In Daily
- Celebrate The Big Wins in a Big Way
Number 1 on the list of 10 commandments for personal trainers, CARE. This is first on the list because it is the most important for all personal trainers out there. Not every client is going to be your ideal client, in fact, every person brings their own set of challenges. It is your duty to rise to the occasion and make sure that the client knows how much you care about them and their goals.
If you became a personal trainer because you like working out or some other vain reason, start looking for a different profession. Seriously, I know it sounds harsh but you have to have a deeper reason to get you through the challenges you will face.
Caring about your clients is how you will get referrals. Referrals are how you become profitable without pouring money back into your business. Offering incentives for referrals is also how you make money.
Acquiring new clients cost 5x more than retaining existing clients. Increasing client retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%. The success rate of re-signing a client you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of signing a new client is more like 5-201%.
Truly caring about your clients will help keep them coming back while also referring their friends to you.
2. Listen to Understand
Listening is a skill that many people struggle with. Do you ever find yourself in a conversation just waiting to respond? While you are waiting to respond you are not actually listening. You are listening to respond not listening to understand.
This one skill can drastically change how you interact with potential clients and how you interact with the clients you currently have. When you start trying to understand your clients and meet them where they are you are able to provide a better product.
Some days it might be subtle, but you will hear things that provide you insight into their world. Maybe they are struggling with their kids, having a rough time at work, or have unsupportive family members.
Sometimes people will stop coming to your classes or want to quit because of reasons that have to do with their environment, not because they are ‘quitters’. When you understand this you are able to give them what they need to keep pushing through, therefore retaining them as a client and once again showing them that you care.
Empathy is the act of being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand the feelings they have. Not everyone can do this, it takes effort and it’s not easy. For example, I will never forget a potential client that came to see me one day and when she sat down I noticed she was shaking. She was so nervious that her body was literally shaking right in front of me!
The thought of stepping inside a gym, a place that is unfamiliar and intimidating to many people is so scary it’s debilitating. Can you as a trainer understand that? If you were once in that position and that is why you became a trainer, then my friend you get it. However, not all trainers do, especially the ones that who are genetically gifted.
With everyone you meet you owe it to them to empathize with where they are in their journey. If you do this, I promise you will sign 9 out of 10 people you talk to.
Encouragement seems like an obvious one for personal trainers. Out of the 10 commandments for personal trainers this one should be practiced right out of the gate. I would also encourage people to come to one of my classes for free instead of doing free consultations. Why? Because this allowed me to do a couple of things:
- It didn’t take any extra time out of my day.
- I was able to show the value in my services right away because I gave them encouragement right out of the gate.
I would create a no expectations environment, provide them alternative exercises for anything they couldn’t do, and remind them that this is there starting point. One thing I ALWAYS say, “Where you are at now is not where you are going to be a month from now or six months from now.”
When they were done, I would often see a smile mixed with a look of “Wow, I did it but that was hard and I didn’t do very well.” But here’s the thing, they made it through the class and I was able to encourage them which provided them a quick win. I knew this win was crucial in those first moments, because, they needed to feel a sense of accomplishment.
5. Win #1 – ASAP
This goes hand in hand with #4. Most of the people that will come to you have failed many times before, they might feel desperate, and have many doubts that hiring you will work. If you get somebody a quick win right off the bat, it squashes those feelings.
Getting a quick win in the first week allows people to feel like YES, it is possible to achieve my goals. We tend to think of things long term, where we want to be in the next 6 months to a year and how hard it will be to get there. Our minds lead us down a path of negativity, tricking us into thinking things are impossible.
The truth is they are not impossible, we know this as trainers but the hard part is getting those clients to believe in themselves. When someone signs up with you figure out a way to get that quick win, this is best done with a super small goal within that first week.
6. 2nd Quick Win – Journaling
After you get the first win, it’s time for another and pronto! People need to feel that sense of accomplishment soon after the first win to help keep them on track. I always did this by asking people to journal for 3 days.
Journaling for 3 days allowed me to understand their current eating habits, what a typical day was like, and also provided us with our 2nd win. I often told people to not change anything they were doing because they started working with me, if they did I would not understand their current routine.
You can’t expect people to drop all the bad habits overnight. It is your job as a trainer to educate them on the process and why you are doing the things you are doing.
Once they would hand in their journal I could pin point one thing to work on over the next week. Can you see where this is going? One small win after another leads down a path of success. If you are always focusing on the BIG goal you forget about the journey it is going to take to get there.
7. Choose The Right Program
After I would learn about their current routine and get them some quick wins it’s time to start talking about the proper nutrtion plan. Every trainer has their own school of thought, which is fine but if you want to be the best you better be able to adapt to your clients needs.
All the diets out there are tools at your disposal to help your clients in the best way possible. For instance, I don’t believe in Keto as a long term strategy or something that is maintainable as a lifestyle. However, I do think when someone is 100 + pounds overweight it can be a way to lower blood sugar, detox the body, and begin a structured nutrition regimen. You should only start someone on Keto if you understand how to introduce carbs back into their diet.
If you understand your clients current habits, know what their daily routine is like, and what they struggle with the most you should be able to make a customized program that will fit their goals and lifestyle.
The mistake I see some trainers making is always sticking to one type of diet, can we please stop doing this? Not everyone is going to be successful on keto or successful counting macros, or intermittent fasting. These diets are all tools that we can use to better help someone reach their fitness goals.
8. Set Your Client Up For Success
How do you set your clients up for success? It’s actually pretty easy, you prepare them for the challenges! We all know that when you start a new program you are not going to be 100% on it 100% of the time. Things will come up and you will have to maneuver around them.
I like to have discussions with clients about the things that could come up that would present challenges. Then I would walk them through what to do when that happened and prepare them to be flexible. In fact, I wrote another blog post called, That All or Nothing Attitude is Killing Your Goals.
We tend to have this mindset that if we are not perfect on our daily diet and we cheat then screw it I might as well eat everything! I used to explain to my clients that having this attitude is like getting a flat tire and then slashing the other 3 tires, insanity!
When you have up front conversations with your clients about possible challenges and then providing them tools to face those challenges, you are setting them up for success.
9. Check In Daily
Number 9 on the list of the 10 commandments for personal trainers, check in daily! It seems stupid simple, but is so important when clients are just starting. It can’t feel like the same old routine when they hire you. They need to feel a change physically and mentally, like they have someone in their corner fighting for them.
10. Celebrate The BIG Wins
And last but not least on the list of 10 commandments for personal trainers, CELEBRATE!
People are going to come to you with their goals and their dreams, that’s a big deal. As trainers we know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, dedication, and consistency to get their. Do right by your clients and lead them from small win to small win all adding up to THEIR BIG WIN.
These big wins deserve to be celebrated in a big way. If they are ok with it, post on social media. Everyone wants to show off their success in front of others, even the shy people.
Check out my favorite planners & journals here: