Lifestyle

The Trainer’s Guide to Keeping Clients

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Listen, we all make mistakes on the job, and in general. Nobody’s perfect, nor should they be expected to be, but there are some simple things we can try to avoid to both enhance our professional experience, and our clients experience.

We see them, and we do them, the downright stupid mistakes that cost us clients and respect in the industry. So in case no one has called you out on any of this stuff lately, allow me. Oh, and by the way, I’m hardly innocent. Here are some of the more common mistakes that are easy to avoid.

  • Leave the coffee off the floor.  You may think your client doesn’t mind; you make think nobody notices, or that it doesn’t look that bad.  You’re wrong!  It looks horribly unprofessional to have a coffee, or anything other than a water bottle on the gym floor.  This also applies to your supplements and lunch.  This is your client’s time, not yours.
  • Turn off your cell phone.  And no, that doesn’t mean set it on vibrate.  Check your voicemail and do your texting between clients.  It’s just plain rude, and you know it.
  • Don’t just wing it.  Have a program ready for your client.  If it’s your first meeting, have everything you need for a proper consult.  This should be a no brainer; if they wanted to wing it, they wouldn’t have hired you in the first place.
  • Leave your personal life out of the conversation.  Your clients may look to you for a lot more than training advice; they may open up to you and disclose personal details, especially when going through stressful times in their life.  The fact is, they trust you.  As humans, we naturally want to empathize, and as a part of that process we open up, and share some personal details of our life, as a way to show that we understand.  Remember, you are not a counselor, and giving away too many personal details can really blur the lines in the trainer / client relationship.  Keep the sessions on task and leave your Friday night details out of the conversation.
  • Don’t bash anyone in front of your clients.  This can be hard (especially if it’s something that they bring up) because, let’s face it, some people just aren’t very good.  However, the more you engage in this type of conversation, the worse you will look in the eyes of your client.  Just be confident in what you have to offer, answer their questions professionally, and get back on task.
  • Don’t lie.  If you do not know the answer, say so – don’t make it up.  You really do tarnish your reputation when you get caught.  “I don’t know” is a respectable answer – use as needed.  Then, go learn the answer for next time.
  • Don’t brag.  Your client doesn’t care what you bench press, how well your abs are coming in or that you just got 151 likes on a picture of your ass.  The session is about them not you.
  • Don’t add them on Facebook.  A lot of people still like to keep their private and professional lives separate.  Respect that.  Give your clients your card, with your contact info, which can include your social media details, especially if it relates to your business.  Let them decide to add you, or like your page.
  • Don’t flirt.  Keep in mind that it would be major professional misconduct for any other health care provider to hit on a patient.  If you absolutely must, discharge them as a client first.  It’s also a good idea to not flirt with others while working with a client.  Again, it’s their time, not yours.
  • Don’t be late.  Self-explanatory.
  • Dress like a professional.  You’re a health professional, so, act like one.  Wear clean, appropriate gym attire and have your hair neat.  Leave the cocaine and caviar, or beer shirt at home.  Seriously, if you want to be treated and paid like a professional, dress like one!

I could keep adding to this list, and I’m sure anyone reading can as well.  Any seasoned trainer will tell you that they’ve made a lot of these, and similar, mistakes.  If you catch yourself doing any of these, just stop, apologize, and move on.  It’s not the end of the world.  Just don’t make them a habit.

Have one of your own?  Post a comment below!

Mike Samson is a strength and conditioning coach and university instructor who lives in St John’s, Newfoundland. Mike holds a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. A competitive athlete in Judo and BJJ disciplines, Mike is available for consultation in the St John’s area and also provides services online.

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