The Trainer – Client Relationship

1. DRESS LIKE A PROFESSIONAL
Dressing like a professional makes you think and act like a professional. This in turn creates a positive perception in the eyes of the client and commands respect. Wear a uniform. Professionals in all fields wear uniforms. This could be color coordinated sweats, coaches shorts, quality tank tops, polo shirt with company logo, and clean exercise shoes. Avoid hats, boots, wild colors, string tanks, baggy pants, and old t-shirts.

 

2. MAINTAIN HEALTHY, ATHLETIC PHYSIQUE
You must look like you practice what you preach. You don’t necessarily need an 18″ arm, but you must be lean, toned or muscular, and in good aerobic shape. Always make time for personal workouts. No one is going to listen to a fat trainer.

3. TRY TO KEEP CONVERSATION PERTAINING TO HEALTH & FITNESS AND CURRENT EVENTS
Remember you are paid a lot of money for the hour you spend with a client. Make them feel their getting their money’s worth. Try to constantly educate them in various areas of fitness (nutrition, aerobics, etc.). It’s acceptable to discuss current events, but try to avoid topics such as Aunt Bertha’s latest love interest.

4. NEVER CARRY INFORMATION (GOSSIP) FROM CLIENT TO CLIENT
This could be your fastest way out of business. As your client base grows, you will find a majority of new clients come from referrals or “word of mouth advertising” (this is great)! So, many of your clients will know one another. The last thing you need is to spread gossip. Keep all information confidential. Believe me, you will eventually get some very confidential information and others will want to know about it (i.e., did Jane have a face lift, leave her husband, color her hair, etc.). If you’re asked about a confidential matter,”mums the word.”

5. NEVER DISCUSS YOUR PROBLEMS, BUSINESS OR PERSONAL, WITH ANY CLIENT
You must maintain, what I call, a professional “buffer zone.” A client can and will eventually discuss many personal problems they have (which its fine to lend an ear), but never drag a client down with your problems. Remember, you’re paid to make them feel good. You don’t want to develop a reputation that you talk too much about your problems. They could eventually blame (through no fault of yours) their lack of results on you.

6. NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL-YOU ALWAYS FEEL GOOD
You must always exude health and well being. So if you have a headache or other minor problems, fake it. Act like you feel good (you will probably feel better)!

7. NEVER ARGUE WITH A CLIENT
You are a professional. Make sure that you stay above any problem that may arise. Never, ever, raise your voice to defend yourself. Always try to calm any situation down (pour water on the fire). Remember, you want to keep the client satisfied and the money coming in. You don’t want the reputation of having a bad temper.

8. CHOOSE YOUR VOCABULARY WISELY
Never use foul language. This is a quick way to lose respect, and degrade the profession. You’re not a “Gym Sergeant.” It doesn’t make you sound tough. Always sound professional. Try to increase your vocabulary skills by reading. Always address an adult client using “Mr.” or ” Mrs.” unless told otherwise. This shows respect and professionalism.

9. NEVER GIVE ADVICE ON SUBJECTS OUTSIDE OF FITNESS
You will at times be forced into being a part-time psychiatrist. Just make sure you only “lend an ear.” You don’t want to be responsibility for anything negative that might happen. This could hurt your business.

10. BE CAREFUL ABOUT ACCEPTING PERKS
No matter how sincere and thankful a client might be about offering a “perk” (tickets to basketball games, using the house while they’re gone, having dinner with them, etc.), they usually expect special consideration in the future (last minute cancellation and expect not to be charged, etc.). If you have been with a client for more than two years, you should know them well enough to make a good business decision.

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These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.