The 5 Pillars of Success For Your Clients

puzzle with 5 pieces

Exercise alone lacks the ability to change body composition and health. Study after study shows that working out by itself has little impact on body composition change: fat loss and muscle gain. So why do we focus on just working out?

Part of the problem is that many personal trainers reasonably think we are only responsible for the workout session. When clients come to us they are typically coming to us for 4 reasons – lose weight, build muscle, increase bone density, and live better. Yet working out only sets the stage for everything else.  So what should we do?

I suggest taking a 5 Pillar Approach that will help your clients hit their goals, change their lives for the better, and make you an in-demand personal trainer.

puzzle with 5 pieces

1. Nutrition – No matter what anybody tells you; you cannot out train nutrition. In fact, when it comes to the hierarchy of fat loss this is the most important element. You are what you eat and what you don’t eat.

We as fitness professionals have an obligation to help our clients with eating better— You do not have to be a nutritionist to help and there are many great certifications that can help you increase your knowledge base in this area. Stop saying it’s not in your scope of practice.

2. Exercise – We need to eat less of the bad stuff and move more. We live in a time when most are sedentary at work and at home with an ever-growing obesity rate. We need to get people moving and strengthening up.

Regardless of your fitness methodology, I think we can all agree that exercise is important for health and longevity. I suggest full body movements over isolations exercises and if you are going to do cardio focus on interval training due to the fact that you want to keep the muscle you are trying to build and burn more calories at rest. Not to mention spending less time in the gym!

3. Supplementation – Regardless of how you feel about supplementation (proteins, meal replacements, multivitamins, etc.) when you are trying to change body composition, you will have nutrient gaps. You can’t simply get what you need through food alone especially if you are in a caloric deficit.

When you workout your body is breaking down and with right vitamins and nutrients your body can build back up. Your next workout is only as good as your last recovery and that is why supplementation is so important. Are all supplements equal? Short answer NO.

This is where we need to educate ourselves when making a recommendation to our clients. I suggest looking for at the very least 2 things- 3rd party testing and NSF certified for supplements. Just because something is on the shelf doesn’t mean its effective or safe. Start there!

4. Accountability – This is where everyone could use more of and where we fall short. When our clients start missing workouts or don’t log their food, we are not helping them by letting them off the hook. The best results are predicated on following the above 3 Pillars. Some people believe that they don’t need a trainer for exercise but all could benefit from having the accountability from one.

5. Attitude – I think this is the most important. If your mind isn’t right then the body won’t change. This also where we come in and can make a huge impact. We all love to train clients that have a great attitude, who work hard, and give you everything they got during a session but what about the opposite type of client. The client that doesn’t want it is the one that needs our help the most, and if we can change their attitude for the better than they will have greater success and can make a real difference.

Exercise by itself is not enough. Be the personal trainer that wants to be the “one stop shop for your clients.” You will find that you will be more in demand, make more money, and help make real progress towards your client’s goals. Focus less on selling exercise and focus more on the overall solution that will actually make the difference for your clients. Embrace these 5 Pillars and see what happens.


Ian Nimblett, CFSC, CSCS, NFPT-CPT and is a functional strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer, and author. He is the founder and owner of Premier Fitness Group LLC in South Salem, NY, a world-class functional training facility that provides private, semi-private, and group training.