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The Fitness Zone

How to Motivate Your Personal Training Clients
March 4, 2013

Motivation to keep training does not come easy to all of us. If you're thinking about a career as a Personal Trainer, or are one already, it's your job to invigorate clients through positive reinforcements and training methods. This may seem like a hard task, especially with a particularly stubborn or unmotivated client, but nonetheless it can be done!

Here are some fitness career tips on how to motivate unmotivated clients.

Understanding their motivation

Before any work can commence you should find out exactly what it is that is motivating a client to want to get in shape. Whether they simply want to get fit, shed a few kilos in the lead up to their wedding, or are training for a strenuous upcoming marathon. The training routine you design for them should fit in with their ultimate motivation. People often find their drive when working towards something they really want. By understanding what their end goal is and what they hope to achieve, you'll be better equipped to motivate them.

Set short-term goals

Of course you're going to work towards your client's long-term goal, but it can be a long and arduous path if you don't make the journey fun. Real progress and results take time; your client won't magically become ripped or shred fat overnight. By setting short-term weekly goals, it can make training exciting again. For example, ask your client to run one extra minute on the treadmill each week to improve endurance. Short term goals also make the end goal feel more achievable.

Track progress

A great Personal Trainer is someone who monitors their client's progress. This includes regular weigh-ins and measuring body parts. It can also be training focused. Is your client lifting a heavier weight compared to last week? Did they stay longer on the cross trainer or use it on a higher resistance setting? Write any information down in your client notes. Results are more noticeable if you're keeping track, so both you and your client can see where improvements are occurring.

Frequently change programs

The body is believed to plateau after six weeks of vigorously undergoing the same program or training style. That's why it's an important part of a Personal Trainer's job to change up a client's program every four to six weeks. This makes your sessions more enjoyable and ensures clients won't get bored with the same old routine. It doesn't simply reinvigorate your sessions, it also ensures their body will continue to respond to exercise. The results won't stop if they don't!


You don't need to be best friends with your clients, but you should be friendly, patient and understanding. Talking to them about everyday life and their interests is part of building a professional relationship. Your clients need to feel comfortable enough to trust you. But being friendly doesn't mean going soft on training you need to remain firm enough so your clients can achieve their goals.

There's also no harm in giving your clients your personal phone number so that they can contact you whenever in doubt of their progress. Exchanging numbers also gives you the opportunity to send inspirational messages or quotes to boost their morale and show them that you are as committed as they are to achieving their fitness goals.

Reassess over time

Plenty of clients start out their workouts and programs with a goal in mind. However, things change. Your client upon starting their regime may have wanted to lose 30 kilos but as time went on, they may have realised they don't want to lose that much but rather want to work on their strength. Changes like this to a person's goals can mean they aren't motivated anymore by their original goals. Setting time aside every so often to regroup and go over the client's goals is a great way to ensure you're both on track with what your clients’ needs are.

Help to set incentives

Is not all work and no play when it comes to working out. If your client is only working hard and achieving goals and failing to reward themselves, this can be a big hindrance on their motivation levels. When considering your client's goals, also be sure to chat to them about their incentives. Ask them to think about how they will reward themselves when they reach certain goals. If a client is trying to lose weight, perhaps try and avoid food rewards. The right type of reward is also important when determining their goals. It could be as simple as a coffee with a friend, a trip to the day spa or the purchase of new work out clothes.

Remind them of where they started

Your client might be feeling down that they put a kilo on. They may be feeling undetermined after not lifting as many weights or completing as many reps. The truth is, it may be a step back but they previously have taken ten steps forwards. You will need to remind your clients of where they began and how far along they have come. It's so easy to forget how far you've come so you should be there to give a friendly reminder. So they put on a little weight? They've already lost 15 kilos. They didn't do enough reps? Remember when you couldn't do just one? Simple reminders like this are perfect. Even better off an idea are photographs or video. Show them a photograph of when they first joined up with you and ask them to take a look, compare and appreciate the hard work they've put in so far. This will be a great exercise to remind them just how well they have been doing.

Do YOUR best

If you come to the gym or meet with a client and you're feeling down, gloomy or unmotivated, soon enough your client will feel the same way. Truth is, there will be days when you don't want to work out or you may have family or relationship problems. But, when you're working and with clients this is the time to have positive energy and a motivational outlook for your clients. If you're having troubles outside of work, try to ‘put them in a box’ and store them for later. At work, your focus will be the workout and your clients. You'll also find that working out and remaining positive will help lift your mood and spirit to help you get through the day.

Thinking of becoming a certified Personal Trainer? Kickstart your career in fitness with the Personal Trainer - Master Trainer program.

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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