The Fitness Zone

Should you Become Friends with your Clients?

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

As Personal Trainers, we need to develop relationships with our clients… but, is it ok to go the extra step and become friends with them? Annette Chatterton, Fitness Coach and Director at the Australian Institute of Fitness SA discusses the commonly asked question.

Great Personal Trainers need to create great relationships with their clients through being understanding, having empathy, being a good listener, having a good memory, being interested and interesting, and above all, going the extra mile.

They also need to deliver great customer service, which means that they give clients 100% of their attention during the training session and also past the session with communication about nutrition, lifestyle, motivation, weekly plans, etc.

How far do you take the relationship?

The level of how far you take the relationship between you as the Personal Trainer and your client is up to your professionalism and personality.

The first question to ask yourself is ‘could my intention be misinterpreted’?

Visiting your senior client to deliver some homemade soup when they are sick not only establishes a long-term friendship but shows you really care about their health and wellbeing.

Going for a coffee after a training session is also a great thing to do if you think it would be a good opportunity to discuss your clients’ progress or their nutrition for example, but if the coffee leads to lunch or a drink at a bar discussing other topics then you may be crossing the line of professionalism.

I have socialised with many of my clients, and some of them are great friends, but we discuss things like long-term goals, lifestyle, new jobs, shopping, and cooking and it’s an immensely valuable key for me to build relationships both professionally and personally.

If a natural friendship develops that can be great, but if you are unprofessional with a lot of your clients your reputation as a professional Personal Trainer could get tarnished.

Crossing the line

There are many scenarios where the line between a Personal Trainer and a client could be crossed. Attending a client’s birthday drinks for example, shows your support, however, drinking too much at the party demonstrates a lack of professionalism and role modelling. Nor should you flirt and chat up their friends.

There is a line in the sand that designates a professional boundary. Stepping over this line not only has the potential to destroy your career as a Personal Trainer but could also tarnish the reputation of the fitness industry. Making friends and networking however, is invaluable – just don’t get the two mixed up!

Professionalism is key in the fitness industry, especially as a Personal Trainer, as many of our clients confide in us and share things about their lives that is unrelated to their workout session. As a Personal Trainer, you will challenge your clients; sometimes to breaking point. It is incredibly likely you will see them in a vulnerable state, so keeping these moments personal is essential to establishing a trusting relationship.

Need help with your fitness business?

Check out our  Fitness Business Essentials  giving students the essential tools, know-how and the confidence to successfully run their own business for the long-term.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

Read more articles

View all articles

Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.

Download the Guide 👇

Diploma of Master Personal Trainer Course Guide

Download the Guide 👇

Diploma of Remedial Massage Course Guide

Download the Guide 👇

Complete Nutritionist Course Guide

Book a call below 👇