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Dec. 7 2010 12:00 AM

Quick Tips to Maintain Client Motivation

Reformat goals: Give clients something more meaningful than lifting more weight or doing more reps. Rather than trying to increase a bench press by a certain number of plates on the bar, think of the goal in terms of body weight. For example, a 215-pound client striving to lift "the bar plus two plates on each side" or 225 pounds, may do better to think of this in terms of lifting "more than his body weight."

Encourage training with a partner: If you're training regiment allows it, encourage clients to train with a friend. Knowing that someone else is counting on them to show up makes them less likely to skip out on their commitment to the gym (and it's good for your revenue).

Get rid of excuses: Encourage your clients to always have workout clothes, a protein shake and whatever else they might need for a workout packed and ready in the car. If their workday runs late, there is still no excuse to miss the gym. Keep track of whatever excuses they have and help them develop a plan to neutralize them.

Be flexible: If you plan to have your client tackle that advanced kickboxing class but when your client shows up, they're clearly not up for such a challenge, be ready to change your plans. Have a list of alternate workouts ready. You can tackle the harder stuff at a different session but not at all if your client becomes too overwhelmed by the workout and quits.


One of the most rewarding aspects ofpersonaltraining is the realization that eachtime wetake on a new client, we automaticallybecomea part of that individual's vision.Eachclient comes to the gym with a uniqueagenda, goals that are important tohim orher; and it is set upon us to find thesafestand most expedient path towardsachievingthose goals. As we set about the taskofcreating a personalized workout,however,we sometimes overlook a very importantaspect of the client's vision: thereasonwhy this goal is so important. Bydelvinginto this, we can uncover the keys tointrinsicmotivation, thereby allowing us toprovide toolsfor keeping the client connected anddriven between training sessions. Thenotion that more progress is madeoutside the gym than during a one-hourtraining session is a difficult onefor many clients to grasp. Therefore, by identifyingeach individual's motivating factors,we can help chart a course for howbest to maximize the time spentbetween appointments.

Taking the Dread outof the Workout Afterworking with a newtrainer for a few sessions, clientsusually develop a sense of the trainer's style.Hand in hand with this familiaritycomes the knowledge of what to expect interms of exercise choices, because astrainers, we do tend to have our favoriteways of working each body part.Encouraging feedback from our clientsregarding certain exercise preferencesand finding out which exercises areparticularly difficult is of value tothe trainer. Are there exercises that theclient dreads at the end of theworkout that prevent them from focusing orenjoying the rest?

These exercises can take over theworkout and make the entire sessionseem unattractive to the client,making them groan at the thought of theirnext workout. Choosing to positionthose difficult and dreaded exercisesearly in the workout can provide aclient with a sense of mastery over thedirection of his or her training.Then, when away from the gym and mentallypreparing for the next workoutsession, the client can ready himself with thereminder that once the "dreaded"exercise has been completed, the rest ofthe workout will seem easier bycomparison!

I often provide my clients with myemail address so that if they havequestions between sessions, I am fullyavailable to clarify anything forthem. It also enables me to send themexercise tidbits that I may comeacross in my reading or research tohelp keep them engaged and motivated.They look forward to their nextworkout sessions because theyknow what to expect or they want toshare their reactions to whatever Ihave sent them at home.

Set Them up withTheir Own Resources Notevery trainerwishes to establish this level ofintimacy with clients. Another way to accomplishthis same goal is to direct clients towebsites with fitness messageboards. These are usually fitnesscommunities frequented by like-mindedindividuals with common goals ofimproving various aspects of their physicality.Very often, one can find posts fromothers who have accomplishedtheir goals, tips on how they haveachieved them and what new conquestsare on their horizon. Many clientsfind this to be a source of inspirationtoward meeting their own goals andkeeping motivation high between sessionswith their trainers.

While "cross-training" seemsto be a term with which our clients are familiar,most probably associate this withactivities performed in the gym,such as taking a group exercise classto augment personal training. However,there are many types of cross-trainingactivities that can be enjoyedin the days away from the gym.Encourage clients to keep a fitness log ofactivities and exercises performedelsewhere, anything from taking a hikingexpedition on a weekend to enjoying afamily bike ride. On days whenmotivation seems to be lacking orenergy is ebbing, the client can refer backto their fitness journal. Just thesimple act of seeing all that has been accomplishedon "days off" can sometimesbe empowering enough to get movingagain, thereby re-establishing thededication that the trainer will expect tosee at the subsequent trainingsession.

Don't Forget the FullPicture Priorto becoming certified as atrainer, I began my personal forayinto the world of competitive bodybuilding.It was about this time that I learned(unfortunately the hardway!) that pre-workout andpost-workout nutrition are among the mostvital aspects of training. For manyclients, this can be a true awakening,since a vast majority of the generalpublic still believes that working outhard in the gym allows them the freedomto consume whatever theyplease with no consequences.Subsequently, they turn around and blametheir trainers when they fail to meettheir goals. By taking some time atthe end of a training session to talkwith clients about their nutritionand explaining how altering theirdiets somewhat each week can have aprofound effect not only on meetingtheir goals but also on their performancesin the gym, we can begin to empowerthem in a new direction.Creating healthy meals can be animportant step towards staying connectedbetween sessions. Suggest to clientsthat they keep track of newrecipes, and encourage them to sharethe successful ones with you atyour following appointment.

While all of these ideas are indeedvaluable, they share a certain commonality:a focus on "doing." Many ofour clients become so caught up intrying to meet their fitness goalsthat they lose sight of the body's need forrest. Indeed, getting adequate rest,not only between workouts but also eachnight, is imperative for a successfulstrength-training program. Buildingtime into a client's schedule for an off-dayor two not only allows the musclesto rejuvenate, but also ensures thatthe client will be able to approach hisnext challenging workout with 100%mental clarity. The quickest route tosabotaging a great effort is tooverburden a developing physique. An occasionalday off from all physical activityhelps to clear the mind and restorean often overworked metabolism. Aresponsible trainer must ensure thata client grasps the concept thattaking time off will not undo all previousefforts; rather, it will enhance the effortsexpended the next time around.

By employing some or all of thesesuggestions, we can help to create atrainer-client bond that transcendsthe hour spent together in the gym. Wecan help our clients remain engagedduring their "in-between time" by providingthe right motivation, thereby grantingthem the ability to becomestronger not only physically but alsopsychologically. As fitness professionals,we must recognize the value in this,and come to view it as a gift wecan give our clients, one that willcontinue to propel them forward in everyaspect of their lives.

CathleenKronemer is an AFAA-Certified GroupExerciseInstructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer,competitivebodybuilder and freelance writer. Cathleenhasbeen involved in the fitness industry for 22years.Look for her on, andfeelfree to contact her at your feedback and your comments!


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