Fitness Guru, You!
Ten Secrets to Happier Personal Training Clients
By: Mare Petras
Clients want to feel that they are in the hands of a professional. They want results and they want to believe you are the one to help them to achieve their goals
Uncovering your clients' needs does not
require ESP, just a little social intelligence and the simple task of asking them, "What do you look for in an exercise teacher or personal trainer?" Here are the top ten answers of 100 people polled (from fitness fanatics to couch potatoes) followed by an added bonus: a little 'self-coaching insight' for fitness professionals to help them to continue to serve from the head and the heart.
Clients are looking for an expert who knows their stuff. These days it's not enough to be certified. The fitness industry is constantly changing and clients are looking for experts to keep them abreast of the latest exercise trends. You can choose one solid area of expertise or become a 'smorgasbord of information.' Competency is also the ability to admit when you don't know and refer your client/s to someone who does.
Self-Coaching Insight: What are your self-rules? "If I've done something perfectly over a period of years, then I'm competent. If I've done something effectively once, then I'm competent. If I've done anything like it, then I know I can master this as well, and therefore I'm confident."
Mare Petras (above) has been in the fitness industry for 30 years and is now a Life Coach Trainer. She'll be holding a workshop at the
Clients want to feel as though you are interested in them. In life coaching there are two Guiding Principles that address the basic human need for connection: "People have something in common," and "People grow from connection." Create a two way street that opens up creativity and expression. Don't be afraid to be interested in your clients. People love to talk about themselves. Keep your personal boundaries and make your clients feel valued by asking 'what' questions (What kind of activities did you enjoy over the weekend? What restaurants do your recommend for lunch?)
Self-Coaching Insight: Have you ever watched the up close and personal segments during the Olympics? Does a personal connection with the athletes make watching the Olympics more enjoyable? Could a personal connection with your clients make the sessions more enjoyable for both of you?
Clients want consistency. Why are certain brands popular? Successful brands are clear on what they offer and they always offer what they claim. Consistency takes out the guesswork for the consumer and breeds' client confidence.
Self-Coaching Insight: What about me is unique and how can I be consistent in my approach in providing special value to my clients?
Clients want to feel you care about them. Be 'present' when greeting clients. The best way be present is to rid your mind and environment of distractions. When first introduced to a client, repeat their name, "Glad to meet you, Sue" and then make a mental note to associate something about Sue to remind you of her name. "Sue is dressed in blue"' or "a girl named Sue." Keep files on each client to remind you of their special occasions. Offer 'appreciation treats' like a tea bag to go or, a votive candle. Take a little extra time for them when your schedule permits.
Self-Coaching Insight: How do you care for yourself? By taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, gardening, chatting with a friend, playing with your children, watching an old movie or meditating
you can better care for others in your life.
Clients want to feel that they are in the hands of a professional. They want results and they want to believe you are the one to help them to achieve their goals. Unshakable confidence is not arrogance. It is a sense of certainty that comes from faith and trust in yourself.
Self-Coaching Insight: Beware of confidence droppers: Over-apologizing, defensiveness and negative talk about others.
Clients want a game plan. How many times have you showed up for class, running late, feeling frazzled? Life happens! Your clients are there to get the best of you. How do you give it to them? One technique to help you to 'get clear' for your client is to go to the bathroom and wash your hands, saying as you wash "I'm washing myself free of the blocks that allow my energy to flow freely for my students."
Other on-the-spot tips include: taking a sip of water, practicing deep breathing, smiling or laughing - anything to interrupt you from you! Just in case, create a set class plan to shift into autopilot and before you know can say "gluteus maximus" you be back into a clear-headed flow state.
Self-Coaching Insight: Plan your day. Do not over-schedule yourself and allow extra time to your sessions (bring a book or work to do).
After any correction, add reinforcement by saying 'better" or "looking good." Modifications require the same care as corrections.
Clients want to get results. They also don't want to hurt themselves in the process of getting in shape, but they also want to feel their successes. Know your customer. Are they unconfident and sensitive to added pressure? Positive correction is an art! "Drop your shoulders," is positive, "Don't hunch your shoulders," is not. After any correction, add reinforcement by saying 'better" or "looking good." Modifications require the same care as corrections. Success comes in many packages for your clients: What they can do, the results they get and how they feel about themselves.
Self-Coaching Insight: Ethical Standards + Client limitations = Success (Please note: Perfection is not part of the equation)
Clients delight in knowing that they are being exposed to the latest trends or a new way to work a muscle. Some clients thrive on change and get bored with routine
Clients want innovation. They delight in knowing that they are being exposed to the latest trends or a new way to work a muscle. Some clients thrive on change and get bored with routine. Others may be change-resistant. How often has post-convention enthusiasm been tempered by client overwhelm? Keep it simple. Change doesn't have to happen all at once or be limited to movement. Create a new experience through descriptions, metaphors and visualizations.
Self-Coaching Insight: When you are feeling uncreative, fill yourself up by taking a cooking or dance class…or empty your mind by taking a vacation or day off.
Clients want compassion. A walk around the block or 'down dog' may be 'going for the gold' for your client. Compassion allows you to "step into their shoes" and get a sense of who they are and what they can or cannot do. Directly ask your client "How can I best train you, Jerry?" Compassion also comes in the form of being direct, "Obviously this isn't working, Jane. How can I help you stay on track?" Compassion allows you to understand them and believe in them.
Self-Coaching Insight: Your success does not depend on your client's results. Be gentle with your clients and yourself.
Clients want to feel a sense of charisma. Do you have a great smile, statuesque presence, warm glow, high energy, vitality, gentleness, sex appeal, harmony or sense of humor? All these traits add up to your special charm. You are an original and your uniqueness makes you a leader. Charisma is your own special energy that draws certain personalities to you and helps clients to get much more out of the workout than exercise, itself.
Self-Coaching Insight: Acknowledge, appreciate and absorb, not only your own authenticity but also others special qualities.
Fitness Gurus know the real secret to keeping clients happy is to allow them to shine brighter than they ever thought possible. Help them be their best by being your best.
About Mare Petras
Mare Petras, a veteran of the fitness industry for almost 30 years, is a professional speaker, life coach and CEO (chief energy officer) of Fitness Simply®. She received life-coaching training through Coach University, Coaches Training Institute, Franklin/Covey Leadership and Authentic Happiness Positive Psychology Coaching and will be presenting two sessions at DCAC 2006 for fitness professionals on life-coaching and business growth skills.
Mare is the author of three Fitness Simply books: Tone Up With Wine & Other Fun Fit Tips, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Swimsuit Shoppers and Buff Boomers & Beyond and is a contributing writer to the Sarasota Herald Tribune's Healthy Living, Balance and Chic Mom magazines. She is frequently quoted in national publications, has appeared on TV and workout DVD's.
Mare lives and plays in Sarasota, FL, ten minutes from the famed white powder sand beaches of Siesta Key. You can visit her online at www.FitnessSimply.com
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