woman exercising on pull up straps with man in green shirt kneeling on her left

By Raphael Konforti

You’re waiting for your client to show up, you’re eager to start the session. You’ve got the perfect exercise plan. Every exercise carefully selected. Rest periods formulated for precision energy system development. Specific stretches and foam rolling to address their movement compensations. Time under tension and rest calculated to the minute, ensuring the workout uses every second of the session. In a world of self-certified social media trainers, you rest easy knowing this plan is certified to deliver results.

Changing Your Plan

What if you had to throw out this workout? Not because it isn’t good enough. Maybe your client is stressed out, hasn’t eaten in 8 hours, got 4 hours of sleep, had a terrible day at work or even just got out of a relationship. Think about how often your clients have come to you with one of these real-life challenges or the thousand other things life throws at us.

Keeping Training Personal

The reality is, this happens almost every single session. It’s easy to get caught up thinking our clients need a strength and conditioning program that applies all the latest exercise science research. Don’t forget the first word in the title, “personal”. Training is personal, therefore it doesn’t only mean that each exercise program is personalized. Above all, it means there is a personal relationship between the client and you.

On the surface, it looks like training is picking out exercises, periodizing programs, manipulating intensity or cueing movement. Personal training is so much more than exercise science. It’s really about motivation and keeping clients consistent. Consequently, what good is a well-written workout if no one is there to do it? Both useless. The two major keys to making sure this doesn’t happen are finding your client’s motivation and ensuring they’re enjoying the process.

Motivating Clients

The best way to get clients to adopt lifestyle habits like exercise is by giving them a reason to. People know a salad is better than fast food. Similarly, people know that sleeping eight hours is better than sleeping four. The difference between the two is having a strong enough reason to make those changes. Do you know what your client cares about so much they’re willing to change? Pause and check yourself with this.

Motivation is different than a goal. A goal is losing 40 pounds by your birthday. It’s measurable, even mathematical. Motivation is wanting to feel confident in front of their friends, feeling like their spouse is attracted to them. Motivation is emotional, it’s personal.

Finding a Client’s Motivation

The PTA Global Program Design Questionnaire integrates a litany of motivational interviewing techniques into easy to use questions that will bring out your client’s motivation. Questions that don’t give generic questions that force true introspection from the client. To learn more about these questions, click here. Once you have that real, raw and personal motivator you can use it to drive their habit choices and consistency so that exercise science knowledge can be put to use.

Maintaining Motivation

Motivation comes easy at first, the fact that someone hired a personal trainer already tells you they’re motivated. What’s hard is consistency over the long haul; keeping a client for years, not weeks. One of the biggest indicators of that is how much the client enjoys their program. How much they enjoy working with you and the workouts.

Talking Over Motivation

One of the best ways to do this is also the easiest, it’s asking them. What have enjoyed about working together? Is there anything you were hoping I would do for you that I haven’t yet? What’s the most important goal for you over the next 30 days? The PTA Global Kaizen-6 tool does an excellent job of putting together a few life-changing questions to ask your clients monthly.

The responses are powerful and you’ll gain honest feedback on what you need to keep doing with your client and where you’re falling short. Nowhere in your exercise science chapters does it talk about customer service or whether or not your client will like or want to do your exercise program.

Above all, there are fundamentals to every training program that needs to be on point for it to deliver results. Exercise science plays an important role but it’s only one aspect of personal training. The program needs to be good to deliver results but people also need to follow the program consistently to be a client for years and get life-changing results. PTA Global education knows this and goes beyond the sets, reps and exercise selection so you train the human body but also the human being.


About the Author: Raphael Konforti

Raphael Konforti Raphael Konforti is the National Head of Fitness Education for Youfit Health Clubs, where he oversees the development of personal trainers at 100-plus locations. Raphael's common sense approach to fitness and personal training has been published in over 50 websites and magazines. Having gone from the "Pillsbury Doughboy" to PTA Global trainer and author, he has a genuine understanding and empathy for those seeking to improve their health and fitness.