One of my longtime clients recently said, "You make it personal while always keeping it professional."

She said that upon completing her 3,168th personal training session with me. She's one of 20 clients that have been with me for over 20 years... you do the math on 'lifetime' value of clients like that.

What is it that creates and sustains a 20-year trainer/client relationship in an industry with only a 31% client retention average longer than five years?

You create a special world just for them; a world they will want to visit 3,168 times and counting. They will carve out a small chunk of their time to visit a world structured with their values and preferences.
Make it Personal, Keep it Professional simply means do your job well for each and every client as if they were your only client.
We live in a day and age where many people feel lack of control over most areas of their time and life, where responsibilities and commitments can sometimes be overwhelming.

Some people appreciate a time and space where they can go to 'breathe.' Others want expert guidance to help them stay the course. Some understand the value of exercise in relation to their health and well-being. However, almost all of them will feel the benefits of exercise faster when their trainer hears what they want and provides it.

The world you create for them, on their terms, will offer an environment that is enriching and nurturing to them. Some thrive on a high-energy, fast-paced group; others embrace the privacy of one-on- one. Some want to work only on equipment and can't shake their old-school roots. Others want to be challenged continually; some need constant confirmation of their progress.
The world you create for each client will be a little bit different. If we try to fit them all into the same mold many of them won't fit, won't be happy and won't come back.

Listen for their preferences and create that special world, just for them  even if it's a large group boot camp, you can still help them glow in their own special place with a bit of attention, a well placed wink or nod, a few words of their accomplishments, acknowledgment that you know they are working hard and are proud of them.

Personal and Professional... together in one sentence is the ultimate ideal world for a client in the fitness setting. That perfect combination makes a world of difference to a client and a trainer working toward the future together.

Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness ( 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.