The client who shows up religiously for their exercise program, brings in their completed meal/water/exercise logs, asks questions and tracks their progress in relation to the goals they worked out with you is the dream client who seems most likely to get the best results from their program with you. One would think.

We've all had the clients who tell us what they 'want,' and we work with them, digging into their needs and desires to put together a fabulous plan.

Laboring with due diligence and care to keep them progressing, what happens when three or four weeks down the road something is obviously amiss? We ask them questions to uncover the source of why things aren't going according to plan. Minor changes are made based on what they tell you, yet something is still amiss.

Some things clients might not be saying:

What their main objective really is and why they are in your program.

Who they are exercising for. Are they just trying to please someone else to say they did it?

What they use as a measure and definition of results. You think body fat percentage, they think weight.

They don't understand what you are saying and don't want to look 'dumb' so they won't ask.

What they really think of you and your program.

What's really happening with their body, mind and spirit, and how it is affecting their daily life choices and their plan of action.

They have pain and won't speak up or deny having the pain.

Sometimes our clients honestly don't realize that they are living at cross purposes to their stated goals, and other times they know and are simply hoping things will still work out. We need to look for clues in other areas of our conversations with them to help the communication process.

Take the case of one client who was keeping faithful food logs, exercising with me three times each week and yet couldn't lose a single pound over many months (body fat percentage stayed about the same too). After telling me about a margarita lunch at work, I finally put it all together. She didn't equate three or four margarita lunches each week with any extra calories, sugar or carbs in her diet, nor did it click with the beer she consumed on the weekends. In her mind, they didn't count.

For some clients, keeping them on track, keeping them as clients longer, and keeping them happy to refer you to their friends takes a bit of digging to find out what isn't being said.

Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness ( and the Corporate Boot Camp System ( 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.