Want to know what my biggest frustration was in training clients?

It was all of those times that I wrote an awesome program for naught. I used to love the feeling of excitement as I finished filling in the last tiny little box on their template. The conversation as I presented them with the program was always one with enthusiasm.

Too often, lackluster home-time habits stalled results. There are 168 hours in the week, unfortunately I only saw my client for 2-4 of those.

The struggle is not getting your clients to work hard in the gym, it's getting clients to improve their activity level and nutrition outside of the gym.

Last week I polled thePTDC's awesome Facebook community to figure out some quick and dirty suggestions for getting clients to stick to their program outside of the gym.

Here are 25 great tips from 25 great trainers in every corner of the globe (isn't the Internet fun?)

25 Tips to Increase Adherence Outside of the Gym

"I give them a reward day. As in if they stick to their nutrition plans for 6 days thy gt a day off on the 7th. If they continue that for a month then thy can take me for a workout" - Craig Guest

"Measure them at the beginning of the week as most non-compliance seems to occur over the weekend." - Stephen Combe

"Will what you're about to do/eat take you closer to, or further away from, your goals?" - Mattman Motivator

"Instead of keeping a written log, I get clients to take a photo with their phone every time they sit down to eat. There is a time stamp on each photo and visually, it is a huge motivator if all the pics look healthy. Clients can lie about adherence whether they keep a diary/ take pics / or just report back to you, but I encourage my clients to post their pics and share recipes to encourage and motivate others too." - Fiona O'Donnell

"Putting a post it on the fridge that says "Will this help me or hurt me?" Lay out gym clothes the night before somewhere they will have to see ie" hang them on the bedroom doorknob" - Thomas Gian Ardito

"I find if the goals leave too much room for contemplation, then things dont get done. Very small goals and an easy (sometimes black and white) path make it easier to stick to the goals at home" - Reece Mander

""What is this food going to do for me?" Your answer to this question has to be good enough to allow that food to enter your body. The answer can be as simple as "because I'm stressed out and would really like a couple bites of chocolate" or "I feel good about my progress so far and I would really enjoy this piece of food right now."" -Alex Mullan

"This is your life. Just think about WHO you are cheating. It's not me." - Victoria Brennan

"I make sure when i set homework for my once a week clients, that it is enough that needs to be broken up over a couple of sessions so the are moving more days of the week.." - Bob Sheldon

"We play a game called "spontaneous food war." kinda like the card game. random times during the day, i'll send them a pic of what i'm eating, and they have to send me what they're eating, too. if they're on track, they get points. if they're not, i get points. they can also send me pics, too. sometimes i'll send pics from one client to another, and "battling" between clients. also, bonus points for creativity/something extra yummy and still on track. makes it fun." - Jackie Wu 

"My clients use myfitnesspal so I can check eating habits at the start of every session or at any time I like using my smartphone. It reminds them that I am a partner in the journey and always available." - Mike Lindsay

"Don't set rules. Educating them will make them feel empowered to be mindful of where they are and where they want to be." - David Pavkovich

"It depends on the personality and schedule. For example, if I have a music lover who has no problem getting up early, I have them make up a few motivating playlists and press play as soon as they wake up to get in the mood. I will know they did it because you can't fake strength, weight loss, flexibility, etc." - Karen Nixon Carroll

"Ask them how important it is to them,this would first appeal to their emotions. Then make at as simple as possible so that they can't screw up. Ask them to focus on one habit and completely disregard anything else. Example could be eat protein every meal,for now don't care about what others say or what you read,just focus on eating protein every meal. Record it down through pictures,then slowly compare the pictures and show them they changes they made. Then slowly introduce new habits with the same method. Finally reward them with something tangible,it could be a I develop a kicked ass habit badge or something simple as a compliment. Appeal to emotion to seal the deal." - Kedric Kwan

"Daily check in emails and/or texts. With one or two habits addressed at a time. Constantly making them reinforce why they are putting in the effort" - Beth Page

"Manage cravings with food instead of relying solely on willpower. Utilizing cocoa powder and restorative activities (walking, yoga, relaxing) to relax the mind aids in craving management while supporting the goal of a healthier lifestyle overall. Reminding clients that "cheat food" will always be there takes the urgency away that they need to have it *right now*" - Julie Rytelewski Stubblefield

"I send them random texts asking what they are doing. I ask stuff like, "Hows the eating?", "Hows the stretching?" Just enough to keep them on their toes." - Gabe Gaskins

"When I set up "homework" for clients, I explain to them that what we do together in session is not going to make much of a difference if they are not doing their part at home. It is their choice whether or not they reach their goals, so in preserve to do that they have to do their part and not rely just on me." - Tera Busker

"I tell mine to love their goals. If you love something it's not work, I give them tips as to how to really own their goals, (pictures, skinny jeans, dress, shirt, old suit etc) what you love to do takes no effort to do it." - Eoin Walsh

"Be kind to yourself! Try your hardest! Fuel up! Hydrate! Quality instead if quantity! Remember this is a journey, not a race! And enjoy!" - Lindsay Watson

"Nothing tastes as good as thinner feels." - Debbie Lentz

"I give body fat measurements at the start of the week, send a weekly email newsletter to clients in the middle of the week, send a short text Friday reminding them about why they need to keep good eating habits going over the weekend. This regular contact keeps clients adhering to their habits to the point that the good habits become their normal routine." - Fiona Compston

"I set one or two goals for my clients per week for when I'm not there. One performance goal (eg complete the home circuit twice or walk three days for 1hour, etc) and one "food" based goal (eg protein at each meal or save the chocolate bar for the day I come ). I follow this up with 2 or 3 texts a week, just to check in and help them feel supported"- Sarah Conti

I provide the tools & it's up to you to put in the work. Remember when faced with a choice just ask yourself;"Is doing this going to take me closer to achieving my goal?" Take some responsibility and use the knowledge to keep making progress." - Callan Headrick

"It's a simple choice: do you want to eat that shit / stay in bed or lose some fat? Because you can't have both. You choose." - Chris Paget-Marsh


Photo Credits: Ed Yourdon, San Diego Shooter