The Big Reveal: What a Client Wants



Those who spend a considerable amount of time and money on our services hold the keys to the most valuable knowledge we can absorb as personal trainers.

What qualities might a consumer seek in a personal trainer that might not necessarily occur to us?

In The 4 C’s of Personal Training I discussed ways in which we can present ourselves to potential clients so that we highlight our capabilities in terms of Care, Compatibility, Confidence, and Certifications.

Today I explore the flip side of this same coin:

Imagine You Are a Potential Client

The first consideration when choosing a personal trainer is very often the gender of the individual. Surprisingly, this appears to be a top priority, and most potential clients are very firm in their choice. If this should present itself when interviewing an individual, and you are not the gender he/she had in mind, it is important not to show disappointment or take a defensive stance.

The most professional way to handle this delicate issue is to assure the individual that the fitness center employs many highly qualified trainers of the gender he/she is seeking, and that you will personally pass his/her name along to another trainer. After this discussion, be certain to follow through with that assurance!

What Exactly Is Being Sought?

Listening to a potential client is probably the most respectful and important part of the interview/assessment process. People embark upon personal training for a variety of reasons. While we would all love to work with only those who are dedicated, hardworking, and truly committed to making changes in their physique and wellbeing, not everyone has the same agenda for time spent in the gym.

Is this individual more interested in spending an hour away from her toddlers/spouse/work environment than in building lean muscle mass?

If you discover this to be the case, embrace this individual’s position and treat it with respect. As surprising as it may be to us, many clients who hire trainers are looking for one-on-one attention, for any number of reasons. If you are open to this and willing to take a chance with such an individual, it may be possible that along your journey together you may inspire him/her to focus more on the tasks at hand than on using you as a sounding board for problems.

Time Frames

Very often an individual will interview a personal trainer and seem to have a great interest in the endeavor; however, during the assessment conversation, it is revealed that he/she only desires (or can only afford) to train with you once a month.

This is not at all uncommon, either due to financial restrictions, business travel commitments, or child care availability. While we might begin to interpret this as a lack of seriousness on the part of the client, if this is truly what he/she is seeking, decide if such parameters will be comfortable for you. Many of us need regular, consistent clients each week in order to make a quota or to ensure enough hours to receive “full-time’ benefits from the facility. Be honest with yourself, and honest with the client.

Personal training as an industry definitely falls into the category of “Sales”, whether we are comfortable with this or not. However, from the point of view of the potential client, ask yourself: What am I really selling here?

To be of the greatest service to any individual, regardless of his/her goals, what we are selling beyond a shadow of a doubt is “Hope”. Every client has hopes for what training can accomplish for him/her; it is not always about the number of squats performed in a set, or how much weight is being bench-pressed.

Rather, time spent training represents a potential future full of self-improvement on whatever terms the client defines. We are offering them hope that this can, and will, become a reality.

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Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]. She welcomes your feedback and your comments!