Let's be honest with each other, personal training is a hard industry. It's easy to get in and become a personal trainer, but harder to be great. So have you ever thought about what it takes to be great at your craft? Let's not confuse ourselves with income yet; in order to earn the big money you have to pay your dues and perfect your craft. Before all else we need to take a look at our most precious commodity; our clients. Client retention makes or breaks us and is the definition between being a successful trainer and an inconsistent one.

In my humble opinion, I can pinpoint the time period where the client is lost, the moment where they make the decision that this is not going to be a long-term commitment to their trainer. This happens in the very first month of training, sometimes the first meeting. Why? The four most important components of every client-to-trainer fitness relationship were not covered, asked or discovered. I encourage every trainer in every walk of life to focus on the following four components. It will make your client retention sky rocket.

Simple enough, right? Yes but you have to get down to brass tacks here. What are the goals and of those goals which one is the most important? Also asking about a specific timeline to achieve their goal helps to create urgency.

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of designing a program. Asking questions such as, "Do you prefer structure or variety," or "When you are stressed do you like activities that are relaxing or ones that allow you to blow off steam," will give you a glimpse of what their personality calls for in terms of programming.

It is a no brainer; we as fitness pros need to evaluate who we are training. The more information we know about past injuries, past exercise history and current state of being, the better off we will be. The program depends upon the abilities of the client.

Motivation behind the goal
The main event - the reason they are in front of you. The reasons are many and could be a myriad of descriptions but your job is to find it. Asking questions such as, "Why is this goal so important to you," and "If you do achieve these goals how life will be different," are great ways of gaging motivation in your client.

Having worked with thousands of trainers, I find the four above objectives to be the most important. When asking questions of your client it is always a good practice to write it down while they are speaking. Statistics show they will see you as someone who cares and are more likely to listen to your advice.

Josh 'JB' Bowen, BS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D is the former Quality Control Director of Personal Training for Urban Active Fitness and is currently a personal trainer for Fitness Plus II in Lexington, KY and a consultant and National Fitness Director for Compel Fitness.