As personal fitness trainers, we get to meet a lot of people. There is no robotic method of getting to know someone with a set list of questions to ask each other. Plus, everyone is different. But here are some tips to add to your repertoire.
Your Personal Appearance
First, if you’re wanting to make a decent impression, make sure you have an acceptable image. There is no special trick here, it’s just about the basics. Your hair, clothes, breath, posture, etc. All of it needs to be somewhat under control.
Some bad body odor, stank breath or an inability to look someone in the eye will quickly make them not want to work with you.
It’s a simple point, but worth the effort.
Ask Them About Themselves
You can’t really have a lot of respect, admiration, or even want to be in the same space as them unless you know something about them.
I am a strong believer in the fact that you can find something that you both have in common and that you both love, no matter who the person is. So, as the person is talking about themselves, ask more about what really interests you. If the woman lives in a historic house and you loved the old cottage that your aunt lives in, tell her.
Just keep learning about the person and find points that you can agree upon. Reinforce the fact that you both are here under a common purpose – to help her attain her fitness goals. Use the positive energy from your common interests to make it fun and keep her coming back.
The more you know about someone, the more you will get along. Don’t come across as weird or prying, but just chat it up and you’ll soon enough be so distracted talking about other things that you’ll forget you’re at work.
Happens all the time.
Be Honest – Don’t Give a False Compliment
I, as a rule, never give false compliments.
If a client hasn’t made any noticeable weight loss, I don’t say that they have. If a client can’t perform an exercise well, I don’t say, “Good job.” I say, “Let’s do an alternative exercise until you’re up to that.”
But, when they do perform an exercise perfectly, I tell them, “That’s perfect!”
When I see that they have lost weight, I say, “Holy crap, you’re shrinking!”
I would never pay for someone to be fake with me and neither would they. There are ways of encouraging your clients that don’t involve false compliments and bullshit. Find them.
The most embarrassing thing is to fail and have someone tell you, “Great job!” You know damn well you didn’t do a good job. The congratulatory person is either fake or dumb.
Don’t be that guy.
Make Sure That They Can Talk to You Openly
A fitness trainer is a great communicator.
You’re going to be talking about all sorts of things with your client. They will divulge their personal information about their bodies like when they have diarrhea, menstrual cycles, if they stayed up late because of bloating/gas. You have to be trustworthy beyond all doubt.
The way you build this trust is by never talking about any of your other clients. You have a responsibility to this individual to keep their medical information private. Keep it. If they believe you will do so, then you’re safe.
All sorts of problems come up when your clients don’t think that they can talk to you openly. They neglect to say things like, “I skipped lunch today” or “I was up arguing with my spouse all night so I’m not going to be worth much today.”
This is vital information and if you’re not an approachable person who can just look them in the eye and give a nod of understanding, then start practicing. Don’t quit until you’ve got it down.
And don’t forget that you now play a major role in their life.
Your Handling of Communication
If your client texts you, text them back immediately. If you miss a call, call them back as soon as you’re free. If they email you, email them back within a day.
Don’t let a text go unanswered. Get a reputation for being the person who always answers and is always reachable.
This is probably more important than you think. It is an indicator of how responsible you are.
People with little responsibility will say, “Oh, I didn’t get your text” or “Well, I was busy so I couldn’t answer.” If they were busy, then they wouldn’t have read the text.
I make it a rule not to do business with people who don’t answer their phones or email. When you really need them, they won’t be there. So, be the trainer who is quick to get back and doesn’t leave people hanging.
Now, you can apply this advice in a really stupid way and be on your phone while you are training other clients. I’m not saying that. Just let them know from the start that if they need you, that they can call reception at the gym and have the receptionist run a message to you.
You should get a reputation for being the trainer who doesn’t have his phone on him while he is working with a client. As soon as the session is over, check it for work-related calls or texts.
If You Screw Up, Be Honest and Open About It
Somehow, you’re going to mess up. Whether it is small or big is up to you.
You could forget about a session, ignore an important message, or piss them off to a greater or lesser degree. It just happens when you deal with someone that often. If you’re decent and responsible, it’ll only be little things.
For example, let’s say that you told Sandra you’re going to come in on Saturday and give her an extra session. But you forget about it and sleep in. Sandra is going to be pissed or disappointed. Don’t get defensive, don’t act weird. Just be honest and say you screwed up, say why it happened and tell her what you’re going to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
This is how responsible people behave. They own their mistakes.
Observation is a whole subject and should be given more credit than it is.
You should become a good “judge of character.” This term is often used to describe people who have an intuition about others. And who are usually right about it.
In addition to that, you need to be able to look at your client and, in less than 1 second, be able to say how their day is going. Some people are stable. Some are more volatile. You see what you see.
Be able to greet them enthusiastically on those days that they are doing AMAZING. Then be more reserved when they are in turmoil. It’s not appropriate to be super cheerful around someone who was just crying.
And don’t make yourself look like an idiot for not noticing she was crying.
Service people, but don’t become their servants. Take pride in your work.
There needs to be a certain degree of rapport between you and your clients. You don’t need to be best friends for life. Just make sure that you can get along well together. Then deliver one hell of a training session.
Things will come up that you never expected. Embrace them when they do and learn from them.
Don’t forget that there are a million ways to start getting along with someone. These are just a few pointers.