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Handling Difficult Personal Training Clients: The Busy Bill

by Jonathan Goodman | Follow on Twitter

How to deal with the client who is always rushing and mentally disengaged.

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Personal trainer PTDC marketingTime is the issue with the Busy Bill. He runs in on his cell phone and rushes out the minute the workout is done. Sometimes during the workout he’ll even stop to take a call. He’ll frustrate you more than watching every actor on Friends career’s die except for Jennifer Aniston after the show.

This personal training client understands the value of working out and usually wishes that he could be more consistent.

Their busy schedule forces them to cancel regularly without knowing when they can reschedule. They’ve simply taken on too many things in their lives. It’s impossible to program even short term.

A Real-Life Busy Bill

I knew Ed from the gym before I took him on as a client. He approached me when his previous trainer left and asked me if I would be interested in working with him. Excitedly I obliged.

The guy already had great form and always seemed to both work hard and have a great time. He had an athletic background as well.

Before he left Ed’s previous trainer warned me not to give him my cell phone number, which I thought was odd. After receiving numerous emails and text messages between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 a.m., I knew why.

My training with Ed started off great. I got him back on track and laid out a long-term plan for him that he was excited about. Ed started to monitor his eating, cut down on his alcohol consumption, and diligently completed his cardio. He was losing inches and gaining strength, but then work started to take over Ed’s life.

He was involved in a nasty legal battle over a business, and making time for exercise became close to impossible. When he did make it in, his attention was elsewhere. The stress caused him to increase his alcohol consumption, and the gains he had made over the past 3 months disappeared quickly.

I was frustrated, but I wanted Ed to stay active during a difficult time in his life. So, I decided to switch our focus. I gave him 2 simple 30-minute workouts and some homework. Every time he was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, he could come into the gym on his own and complete the workouts. My goal was to make the gym his sanctuary. In the meantime, I cancelled all of our organized sessions and told him to call me if he wanted to book a session.

Ed made it to the gym an average of twice a week during that difficult stage of his life and met with me once every 2 to 3 weeks. This lasted for nearly 5 months before the legal issue was resolved. During that time, he didn’t make any progress, but he did continue working out, which was my primary goal.

Busy Bill Challenges

Getting the Busy Bill results is difficult. They work out sporadically so any programmed progression is close to impossible. In addition, because their lives are so busy, stress gets in the way of regular workouts. The typical Busy Bill’s eating habits are usually sub-par and a weakened immune system due to stress may cause frequent illnesses. From a scheduling point of view, he can be frustrating because of the frequent cancellations.

Busy Bill Solutions

First, don’t overwhelm a Busy Bill. Busy Bills have enough stress and having another appointment to keep doesn’t help. If the stress is due to an acute problem (for example, an important work project), give them space. Keep in touch on a friendly basis but be careful not to bug them.

If your Busy Bill’s life is always going to be stressful, there are a couple ways to deal with it.

The first is to do a mini-assessment every time the client walks in. His physical and mental state will be a wild card. Some days he will come in relaxed, and excited for a break in his routine. Other days he may be so stressed he can hardly move. It’s important to read your Busy Bill and take as much time as needed for an appropriate warm-up and cool-down to let his nervous system recover after working out.

If you find that his mind is jumbled it’s probably a good idea to nix the heavy squats for the day. Take some extra time in the warmup and work on shutting the sympathetic nervous system off as opposed to cranking it on more. Who knows, the stress reduction might actually lead to weight loss as well.

The second way to ensure success in over scheduled clients is to give homework. I’ll often advise them to buy a foam roller and mat for their house. Twenty minute of foam rolling, even if it’s before bed, will help them feel good when they can’t get to the gym and give them something to look forward to.

Finally, if a Busy Bill refuses to leave his cell phone in the change room, I always hold it during the workout. If someone calls, I tell him who it is and ask if he needs to take the call. That way he only answers the important calls, and can let others leave messages.

What it all comes down to is this:

Are you giving your clients what you want or what they need? – Click to Tweet

 

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About the Author
Jonathan Goodman

As the creator and head coach of thePTDC, I'd have to say that this thing is pretty awesome. If you're interested in my book, it's called Ignite the Fire. Feel free to come hang out on my Facebook page where I talk explore the perfect balance between fitness, business, and living an awesome and fulfilling life.