As any trainer knows, getting a good, steady, reliable stable of clients is the perfect dream. We know all too well that what we sell can be an impulse item for many of those who seek us out. At the beginning of the year, new clients pile onto our schedules like ants at a picnic, all imbued with the fervor of their New Year's resolutions.
And you know what happens next; within the month, some of them start dropping like flies. Irrepressible enthusiasm fades and pretty soon, you start hearing every excuse under the sun for not coming to the next training session. People that threw every dollar they had to train with you are now willing to let that money just flush away down the drain.
Working out is hard. We know that better than anyone. Sticking to a schedule for working out is hard. We know that too. We tell them this before we begin. Staying motivated to come and work your brains out is hard. "But, that's what you expected...that's why you hired me, right?" Nothing really worth having is going to be easy. Happens every new year.
So, how do you break through that wall of impulsiveness and weakness to get someone who's just on the edge of quitting to stick with it, trust you, and allow you to get them what they want and need, a fitter, healthier body and self?
Well, here's where your people skills really need to come in. We already touched on the basic tools you, as a trainer, need to give people to keep them excited about the whole training thing. Empathy, enthusiasm, and innovation. What you need to add to that mix is just being accessible. There's nothing worse than a trainer who never has time to talk to their client. My clients have access to me 24-7, with some limits, of course. I mean, don't call me at 3am in the morning.... But you get what I'm saying.
Also, just make sure that you're not overwhelming your new clients. Starting a fitness program for them is already hard enough. If you turn it into a scary, painful nightmare, they're definitely going to quit on you. Some people really need to be eased into this whole fitness thing...not too easily, but you have to work them hard while still letting them believe that they can do this. Pulling out your hardest workouts at the start is just going to defeat the entire purpose.
Another thing you need to do is set a precedent with them as far as their commitment is concerned. Make sure that they know how valuable your time is, and that taking them on was a commitment on your part as well. This is not some casual thing they get to do whenever they feel like it. You are in demand, and you set aside this special slot in your schedule just for them. In a tactful way, make sure they know it.
I also like to set the rules before the first session starts; don't be late, no refunds if you cancel within less than 24 hours, and no frequent cancellations. Lay the hammer down firmly, but softly. They need to know to take it seriously.
Use your first few sessions with them to show them how worth it it is for you to train them. The first sessions are really the make or break point with new clients.
Show your knowledge, caring and develop a good rapport early. Also remember that each client is different, and you have to really use your intuitive skills to know how to motivate that client and keep them excited and wanting to show up again for the next go round.
Client retention is one of the hardest yet most vital elements of a successful personal training career. Takes a bit more work than most realize, but it's so worth it for all involved in the long run.
As any personal trainer knows, there is no shortage of people in our profession. At last count, it is estimated that there are 347,000+ personal trainers certified in the US, alone. that doesn't even count the multitude of non certified hacks out there training people based on what they think they know. In today's world of quick and abundant info on all subjects, just about anyone can log onto the net, copy a few workouts, pick up some fitness lingo, and then hit the gym or the park, looking for some clients.
But, what about you? Even if you are a bonafied, certified trainer, are you really any good? And just how would you measure that? Is it by the number of clients you get? The amount you keep? Is it the ton of certs you've got under your belt? Is it your selling ability? How about the fact that you know how to throw down training sessions tough enough to make grown men cry?
One thing you should be looking at is whether or not your clients achieve the goals they first came to you for. And do it consistently, client after client. Results. That's one mark of a good trainer.
Giving your clients that fit body they're paying you an arm and leg to get. And until you've done that, you're just out here playing games, my friend.
Also, part of your package should be a few key things. Besides just having the gift of gab, an awesome physique and great selling ability, make sure that you keep the most important aspects of training people firmly in mind. I like to call them "the three E's". The three E's are:
Education - The best trainers out here are educated, whether that's by your basic nationally recognized certification programs, studying exercise science and nutrition in college, and also keeping up with what's new in exercise science. Constantly learning new training methods, ideologies, technologies, and keeping up with all the changes that constantly come down the pike in the field. If you're not out here reading, taking workshops and trying out new theories, you are definitely not one of the best. A good trainer is on top of the lot of it, both old and new.
Empathy - Even if you're the buffest, fittest person on the planet, you still have to be able to put yourself in your client's shoes. Try to understand how they feel, and what's really going on inside. You're doing more than just training a body - you're training an entire person. Getting to know and understand your client from a mental, psychological and emotional standpoint is key. That way, you'll be able to relate to them better, and thus provide the motivation and support they need.
Enthusiasm - You should try to be just as excited and enthusiastic about their program and goals as they are. Don't ever make it seem like you're bored and just trying to get through the hour with them. They will pick up on that, and pretty soon, your relationship with that particular client will be over. Keeping the workouts fresh, and finding new ways to get them those results will help you in that area. Challenge yourself to be better, just the same as you do your client. That will definitely work in keeping both of you enthusiastic about training.
Keeping all of the above in mind as you go through your career as a trainer will definitely keep you on top of the pile. Remember, there are a ton of wannabe trainers out there studying and preparing to try and get your job. Be so good at what you do, that it's just impossible! Dare to be the best!