"It was like breaking up with a girlfriend."

When one of my trainers came to me with this statement, I heard and saw his frustration with a client who had said, "You're a great trainer, but..." This relationship had been a three-year "hearing but not listening" tug
of war as the client denied and refused to stop certain lifestyle behaviors that were thwarting the efforts of trainer and client in the gym.

Trust and communication between trainer and client are central to setting and achieving goals and the vision. A few minutes at a time, a few days each week, your clients communicate their very life to you, creating a bond of friendship, trust and mutual work (or play). Your client/trainer relationships are investments you make in your business.

Sometimes those relationships stay strong and continue to grow year after year. Sometimes they deteriorate or never get off the ground from the start. Some are a combination of ups and downs with a few twists mixed in.

Listen, and you can hear what is important to them. "Listen" to their facial expressions, body language and choice of words as they respond to their latest measurement or assessment results. That moment is a window of opportunity to grow that relationship investment to new heights.

If you see dread in their eyes, hear excuses coming from their mouth and defeat in the sag of their body, then they are speaking to you loud and clear. There are some obstacles in their life, in their habits, in their thinking. Some have unsupportive family members, some have deep-seated emotional eating issues, and some are party animals outside the gym. These people who have sabotage in their daily life will not achieve their goals unless they face that obstacle and make some determined and definite change.

This is the point where you, as their trainer, must step up your communication with them. Ask them the difficult questions and don't settle for evasive answers. Acknowledge their struggle and help them fi nd the determination to overcome those obstacles and rise to the next level. Otherwise, you've lost that client, even if they continue working out with you.

By filling a time slot and going through the motions, that relationship is no longer built on trust and real goals. If you continue to "train" them, you have "settled" for an unfulfilling trainer/client relationship. Listen
well to your investment with your ears, eyes and heart. Don't settle for an unfulfilling trainer/client relationship, because your business will only grow in the direction you grow.

Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness (www.aycfit.com) and the Corporate Boot Camp System (www.corporatebootcampsystem.com). He has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than a quarter of a century as a club manager, owner, personal trainer and corporate wellness supervisor.