The Fitness Zone

Do’s and Don’ts of Working with Personal Training Clients

Jan 31, 2019 | by AIF

Professionalism and know-how are vital in the fitness industry. For a client to achieve their full fitness potential, they need proper guidance from their trainer. That said, you need to be mindful as to the advice you give and the way you conduct yourself.

To gain a better understanding of what you should or shouldn’t do when working with clients as a personal trainer, here are some helpful do’s and don’ts.

4 things personal trainers should do

1. Keep your education and certifications up-to-date

The fitness industry is always changing and evolving, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with your certifications. Not only does it instil confidence in your client, but it also helps you to be a far better personal trainer. Actively pursue personal training courses, conferences, and read literature related to the industry. The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it is to maintain proficiency in your job and be able to offer clients sound advice and techniques.

2. Be a leader

Being a leader as a personal trainer doesn’t just mean setting out a program and yelling “good job!” as your client follows it. While having a cheerleader to help motivate a client can be helpful, they also need a personal trainer who can lead by example and help them achieve success over their challenges.

Ignite your client’s inner drive by actively taking them through each step and explaining how each contributes to achieving their end goal. Make them fall in love with fitness by getting them to the point where they’re excited to train. Have sincere belief in them and become just as excited about their personal goals as they are.

3. Have compassion

A lot of personal training clients have little to no experience within a gym, are battling short or long-term injury, are feeling disillusioned in their fitness goals, or have a personal hardship that can make training difficult without some form of guidance and empathy.

Having compassion for each client no matter how young or old and no matter what fitness level they’re at is one of the most important dos’ to being a good personal trainer.

It helps to cast your mind back to when you first began training or to a time where you struggled with your own personal fitness roadblocks and to allow that to help relate to your client and offer them the right understanding to encourage them to keep striving mentally and physically.

An effective trainer is one who trains with both empathy and compassion, leaves their ego at the door and focuses on helping their client reach their full potential.

4. Believe in your client’s abilities

A lot of people who are new to training lose faith in their abilities if they don’t see any rapid change or feel like whatever they’re doing isn’t working.

As a trainer, it’s important to re-instil belief in your client by having them acknowledge their accomplishments – no matter how small or sizable they might be – and to reassure them that they have the capacity to succeed.

Tracking a client’s progress can be a great way of giving them the reassurance that they are improving from week to week which will help give them the belief to keep propelling forward.

4 things personal trainers shouldn’t do

1. Don’t ignore the importance of nutrition

You can’t expect your client to achieve optimum fitness & health without incorporating a proper nutritional plan with a fitness plan. Training and nutrition are intrinsically linked, and it’s important to educate clients on both fitness and nutrition and have them know that both is required for their goals to be achieved.

Instead of approaching nutrition in a lecturing way, have them see that the right nutrition is like fuel for the body to be able to perform exercises and lifts to full capacity. A lot of people are swayed to believe that in order to lose weight or maintain fitness, they should enter near starvation mode.

Educate your clients to show them that food in the correct moderation will help to promote muscle growth and aid fat loss.

2. Don’t put all clients in the same fitness box

Every client’s body and fitness level is different, therefore every fitness program must be personally tailored to facilitate this. For a client to stay motivated to train, even outside of PT hours, they need to enjoy what they’re doing. Find out what exercises will benefit your client’s long-term goals and align them with types of exercise that allow the client to perform comfortably.

There’s no sense in giving a client who wants to build muscle a Tabata style program or long cardio sessions. Tailoring the program to the client’s goals will see results come to them a lot faster as well as generate a higher client-referral base.

3. Don’t prioritize intensity over form

Pushing a client to the verge of vomiting is not the hallmark of a good personal trainer. Proper form should always trump intensity when it comes to training a client. Teaching proper form will prevent injury and maximize muscle development leading to far quicker results than piling on the weights and expecting your client to push themselves to breaking point.

Proper form improves overall posture and functional movement which will transfer from the gym floor to outside the gym, allowing your client to become more mindful when it comes to lifting weights or pushing loads.

4. Don’t neglect to explain terminology

To be an effective trainer you need to be able to explain industry-jargon and terminology simply. Try not to overcomplicate your language and when necessary give your client an explanation of any vague terms used. When necessary, demonstrate any technical terms or provide illustrations to help.

Recommend books or blogs and even YouTube videos to help foster a client’s understanding and to teach them why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Be a smarter personal trainer with the Australian Institute of Fitness

Gain the right education and know-how to become a professional within the fitness industry through the Australian Institute of Fitness personal training courses. You can choose from:

Help clients achieve their personal fitness goals with the proper guidance that only an industry-approved and recognized provider can offer.



At the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), we are no stranger to the competitive and evolving nature of the fitness industry. That’s why we remain the #1 fitness educator since 1979. We continuously raise the bar by providing the best education and resources through dynamic and hybrid training methods that mould to your lifestyle. We are strong believers in evidence over fads, so you can be assured your training with AIF will solidify your career for the long-term.

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