How to Motivate Your Trainees

Daniel A., December 25, 2021

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The action of teaching another person the ways of reaching their fitness goals sounds like it should be simple for any qualified trainer. A client comes to you with a goal and you both work towards it with equal effort and will to accomplish it. This is the perfect scenario but unfortunately, it won’t be the most common scenario for you. 

Chances are you’ll run into more difficult clients and you’ll have to figure out ways to motivate them to their goals. Being a trainer is not only knowing the proper workouts, nutrition, etc. it is also knowing how to work with different types of people and personalities. Once clients are unmotivated, they show up less to training sessions and it’s much harder to collect payment for personal training from them as well.

Set Goals

If you want to know how to motivate clients as a personal trainer read on. Part of being able to motivate your clients is being able to hold them accountable to the goals that they stated and you both agreed upon. This sets the standard for the relationship between both parties because there is a mutual desire to reach the objective. 

From the first consultation, goals should be discussed as far as weight gain/loss, muscle gain/loss, nutrition, food intake, etc. Once established it is now your job to make this happen for the client. A large majority of clients are seeking your services for your knowledge and motivation and will expect you to make it happen for them. However, on their end, they have to understand that you cannot accomplish their goals for them. As they say, “teamwork makes the dream work”, so without the goals being attacked together there will not be much if any, progress.

Make Sure You Are Realistic 

Oftentimes, a client will approach a trainer with goals that are not realistic to happen naturally. They’ll ask for help trying to lose 25lbs in a couple of weeks, gain abs right before their vacations, change their entire shape before a nearing wedding, and do a bunch of other impossible tasks. As a trainer, you have to outline to the client that though their goals are not realistic in the time span they are asking for, it is still possible in due time. 

You do not want to lie or mislead the client into believing they can reach a goal that isn’t naturally possible but does encourage them to stay the course. One of the worst strikes against your reputation as a trainer is if you are unable to help attain goals. Thus you cannot promise training feats that will not happen. Work with your client to lay out a plan that can have them see the results they want in a reasonable amount of time.

Show Initiative

Motivating your clients can’t stop once they leave the gym or training facility. Take the initiative to be in constant contact with the clients about their journeys to their fitness goals. You want to assist in the best ways you can such as designing food intake and diet plans and detailing their activities outside of training. This gives clients a steady plan to follow and provides motivation for them because it is tough to come up with their own, especially when they have other issues to worry about. 

Consistency is one of the most important parts of the training process. After providing the plans you can now check in on the clients at any rate you both are comfortable with in order to ensure they are being consistent. A lot of the time clients will put in the work at the gym but become lackadaisical with their requirements at home and that’s where taking initiative is important. Random check-ins hold the clients accountable for their actions and allow them to get a full understanding of why they are or are not reaching their fitness goals. Once they are able to comprehend where they are falling short in turn it will motivate them to get with the original program to achieve the desired outcomes.

Identify Client Types

As previously mentioned, clients will be different types of people and have different personalities. However, clients also come to you with different levels of motivation overall. It is key that you are able to identify the differences and classify them as necessary so that you can provide the motivation on your end that is needed. 

You can break the clients up into three categories:

  • Highly Motivated: Willing to work as hard as they need to achieve their goals. Usually doesn’t need you but wants you to help make their fitness journey easier and more enjoyable. 
  • Moderately Motivated: Willing to work hard but not as resilient as those that are highly motivated. These kinds of clients will fail if not given the proper coaching.
  • Unmotivated: Not motivated to work hard at all, will give up when things get rough. A lot more work to help reach their goals, must be heavily involved with this type of client.

Understand that a majority of your clients will likely fall into the middle category furthermore a good portion of them will not be able to strictly fit into one sole category either.

Positive Remarks

Just like in any field, your clients will enjoy being told that they are doing a good job. This can occur while physically training them. For example, if they made it through the entire workout with minimal unscheduled break times they are deserving of being told they are “doing a great job” with training. Also, this can occur during check-in if they have been adhering to the diet regimen and activity log you set up for them. This kind of reassurance is a way to motivate clients in the present and make them feel good about themselves as well as give confidence in going further with their fitness journey.

Find Ways To Adjust

In your tenure as a trainer, you will find out that not every client will respond the same way to the same things. For example, in the gym, some clients may respond to a high level of intensity and strenuous exercises while others may not or some may like to keep a food journal while others won’t. Though it can be a tough task at times you must find ways to adjust to the clients’ personalities. A lot of times trainers find that a mutual commitment is a good thing to put into the personal training contract with the client.

The overall goal is to help the person attain the goals you guys agreed could be reached and motivating them is a large part of the battle. Each client comes with their own set of challenges that will require you to find different ways to help them. Designing plans and sessions to fit each and every client is important for their motivation. Clients like to feel like what they are being asked to do is actually possible to be done, so give reachable goals and verbally let them know when they have achieved.

Come Up With Solutions

Another way that clients can be motivated is by seeing how hard you will work with them to find solutions. A lot of times clients encounter roadblocks and give up on themselves but that is where you step in and not allow them to completely fall off. A lot of things can happen in a client’s personal life that can negatively affect their workouts or results.

An example of this is if a client got a new job that would require more of their free time it would inevitably make it harder for them to make it to workouts. As a trainer, you can acknowledge that they are busier but promote the importance of working out not only to reach goals but to relieve the stress from work. Together you can formulate a new schedule and modify the goals that way the client can still feel motivated to keep ongoing. Trainers at times have to get creative to maintain the motivation levels for their clients.     

Pay Attention To Warning Signs

It is easy to get lost in your work as a trainer because more than likely you are managing multiple clients that all need your undivided attention. Yet, it is important not to neglect warning signs from clients. Warning signs are signs that the client is losing the motivation they once had prior. As stated earlier in the article, some clients come in with high levels of motivation others you have to instill it within them. A bad trainer may blame it on the client as to why they are losing the motivation they once had and leave them to regain it or not. A really skilled trainer is able to see when that level is dwindling and is able to find out why and reinstill that motivation and confidence. 

A client’s motivation can be declining for a variety of reasons, for example, they may have been trying to cut down on the stubborn fat in their midsection and it just won’t go away it seems. A lesser skilled trainer would just double down on what they were doing already because it’s “supposed to work” as it was originally designed. As a good, skilled trainer you will encourage the client by changing up parts of their workout and home routines that may become a difference-maker in achieving their goal of losing the fat.

Self Motivation

An important note to add is that a trainer has many jobs within itself, one being to motivate his/her clients. Despite this being the case, the client themself must have some type of motivation within them to achieve their goals. Being a trainer, you should do all that is in your power to give them motivation but sometimes it just does not happen for certain clients. This is OK as you are not a superhero and cannot save everyone but the goal is to try to help as many as you willingly can. Sometimes you may not be the right trainer for that specific person or they may not be ready to endure what it will take to help themselves. Either way, you give it your best and hope for the rest to work out. 

Be Positive

One way to be the complete opposite of motivational is by not being positive. Clients will not be very moved to see the person they hired as a trainer in negative spirits. Hence, even in times of uncertainty and difficulty remain positive that there will be a solution. Once you are able to brainstorm along with the client you should be able to solve whatever issue may be at hand, whether it be mental or physical.

The Persona app allows you to focus on solutions with your clients as it is able to take on all the drudgery of scheduling and payments from you. Persona It hasn’t been chosen as one of the best apps for personal trainers for nothing!

Once you do not have to worry about physically handling or writing down all these factors you can give that much more into your work with each and every one of your clientele.   

Persona is the #1 management platform for independent business owners. it's 100% free, download it now.


Persona is the #1 management platform for independent business owners. Download it now, it's 100% free.