Over my time of training, I've realized and learned so many things when it comes to being successful while working with personal training clients. The cool part is, I feel as though I've barely scratched the surface as to how special and powerful this profession can really be.

Those of you who love and are passionate about Personal Training probably know exactly what I'm talking about. This isn't just another "job," to us. We chose this because of our personal passion regarding health and fitness and probably in some way to "escape" the "normal" workforce.

Here's some tips for building great relationships with clients:

1. Always show appreciation.

I caught myself the other day telling I client how much I appreciated them coming in for their session.  This wasn't a "bad" client as most of us have experienced. This client shows up on time, is ready to work, shows consistency, and is a true pleasure to work with.

There was nothing "abnormal" about our session, but I really was just very appreciative of the opportunity it has been to work with her. I believe simply showing appreciation to people for showing up, from our longest standing client to the new consultation in front of you, is important for building great client relationships. I mean, who doesn't enjoy the feeling of being appreciated?

 2. Smile, smile, smile.

Smiling is awesome. It's contagious. When you smile, it puts the client at ease, and allows you both to have more enjoyable sessions. Smiles are trust building actions. Look at most marketing and advertising banners that you see. They almost always show someone with a big "smile" as this relates trust and brand credibility. To all my fellow fitness professionals out there, I simply say-SMILE:)

how to build relationships with clients | thePTDC | business relationship building skills
Editors note: Jesse doing his best attempt to keep our attempt at only posting cheesy stock images alive.

 3. Be punctual.

You'd think this would go without saying, but showing up on time for every session is just simply professional and a great representation of personal character. Now, there's always that "occasional" issue that causes you to be late or maybe even have to cancel the session all together, but being on time sets a standard of expectations for how you conduct your business as a trainer and will communicate, on some level, that you take your time as well as the client's time seriously.

 4. Take a personal interest in your client's lives.

Some will argue this, but getting to know your clients personally as well as professionally can make a significant impact on their level of trust in you, especially during the initial stages of training.

A lot of clients come to us intimidated and insecure as they are ashamed of their current physical condition as well as intimidated by our "elite" physical status and even our knowledge. (Jonathan Goodman has a great article on the PTDC regarding how we need to change the industry from being so "Elitist" to being more "relatable" and "approachable") Know your "limit" when it comes to relationship building with your client, but seek to take an interest in their lives. This information will allow you to get a great understanding for their lifestyle, stress levels, and the biggest reasons and obstacles as to why they may be struggling in their fitness.

From Jon: Feel free to use the spreadsheet that I created to track personal details of your clients live:

--> Tracking Personal Training Clients

 5. Be honest.

Different trainers have different opinions, different personalities, and different approaches on everything from how they train, why they train, and how they deal with different types of clients.

One of the personal struggles I had in my early days of training was simply being "up front" with clients regarding their lack of effort or what they would REALLY need to do to change. This only occurred with clients who we might consider "problem" clients with very low adherence to the programs I was prescribing them.

There was the part of me that simply didn't want that uncomfortable confrontation with the client for not doing as they've been "paying" me to do. (Don't worry, I've learned my lesson and know that certain clients are beyond my help)

The lesson I've learned is to be as "calmly" honest but direct with the client as I deem necessary and sense that the client will handle well. As I've matured and grown in the profession, I'm much better at the "pre-qualifying" and "calmly honest" approach.

Part of my fear was that I would "lose" the client for being the "crack-down" coach, but, again, my maturity has taught me that some clients just aren't worth keeping if they are too much "stress" and that they are better working with a member of my staff or simply coming back when they are more motivated and willing to adhere to the program. I learn, I grow.

Being honest has "freed" me in my profession and has yielded greater client adherence and helped me a ton, especially in the initial stages of training.

6. Be human.

Being human is necessary for being relatable.  If we put ourselves on this "pedestal," we then become harder to relate to and people will simply be discouraged from adherence to our programs, and possibly even from training in the first place.

I've seen it sometimes where our clients think we "always" eat healthy and that our lives revolve around the gym and doing anything that requires measuring calories and sweating them out all over again. Although I do eat healthy 90% of the time and workout 5-6 times a week, I try not to talk much about my personal journey as I've seen this become more discouraging rather than encouraging for quite a few.

The majority of my clients are baby boomers needing to establish a higher level of fundamental fitness. For me to tell them that I work out 6 times per week and eat 5-6 meals a day wouldn't resonate with them very well. On the other hand, If I was working with athletes and bodybuilders, representing the training and nutritional lifestyle would probably be a higher priority to them. Know your clientele, be professional, and make sure to remain "human."

 7. Care.

Simply caring for your clients will be the #1 thing that yields results. If you care, going the extra mile will be the "norm." If you care, you'll take interest in their success and not just be another "trainer" on an assembly line of clients. As J. Goodman says in his book, Ignite the Fire, "people buy trainers, not training."

Put your care into action. Write thank you letters, birthday/holiday cards, and give hugs and high fives when appropriate.

Our clients biggest struggles are almost always related to self-esteem and "mindsets" that have allowed them to get to their current state. What they need is care, honesty, and someone willing to make a significant difference.

Further Reading

6 Ways to Establish Rapport with Your Clients - Jonathan Goodman

5 Ways to Break the Ice With Clients - Jonathan Goodman

How I Lost a Personal Training Client - Jonathan Goodman