How To Communicate With Your Clients About Their Training Program
I used to try and get clients to care about what I cared out: the science behind things. I would talk to them as if they were training to become personal trainers. I’d blabber on and on about all the concepts that got me excited!
Most clients ignored me, some pretended to care, and a very small percentage fed my bias by being super interested because we were in a similar profession.
I should have failed as a coach. Not only was I awful at speaking at my client’s level, but my communication skills were poor in general.
Honestly, I was so bad that if I hadn’t been working a serving job that taught me how to talk to people, I would have been fired from my coaching job!
Luckily, I had one thing going for me: I was really good at coaching movement. I could make lifting weights feel amazing for those who never felt good under the bar. Clients would stick around despite my verbal awkwardness and tendency to design sessions stuffed with things I cared about.
Revolution: From Employee to Business Owner
Everything changed when I opened my own business. I would no longer be able to rely solely on my coaching skills if I was ever going to make owning a gym work.
Fortunately, two things happened to me that changed the way I talk to clients and that transformed how they perceived our services.
1) I got a boyfriend who was good at listening and asking questions.
I know this seems unrelated, but please keep reading.
For the first time in my life, out of sheer curiosity, someone asked me questions about MY life. What did I do for fun? Where was I from? What did I like about where I grew up? How did I get into coaching? How did I get into coaching people in pain?
No one has ever gotten to know me at that level. I began experiencing something extremely rare: Someone was listening intently as I talked about my life. He came to know things about me that a friend I’d been close with for nine years didn’t know!
After seeing him for a few weeks, I realized I was bad at asking good questions, not just of clients but of everyone in my life.
We always ask clients about their goals, but we need to dig deeper if we really want to understand the person in front of us. With more information, you can adapt your words, approach, and descriptions.
2) I fell in love with the topic most fit pros hate . . . marketing.
When I used to think of marketing, I’d visualize infomercials. I’d think of the cheesy, aggressive salespeople who called my cell 20 times a day after I’d opted in on their website.
However, the more I learned, the more I realized that the marketing I hated was marketing done badly.
Good marketing doesn’t screw people over or convince them to buy things they don’t need. And it definitely doesn’t require you to be a phony.
Good marketing is about understanding your client and describing your services in a way that makes what you bring to the table meaningful and attractive.
The only reason I’d been getting buy-in with clients was because of my coaching skills. I produced results on the training floor on day one, so it didn’t matter what came out of my awkward mouth. The trainee stayed because of the outcomes.
The problem is that building buy-in only gets clients to sign the contract, hoping you can help them reach their initial goals.
When I learned how to ask my clients better questions and market to them more effectively, I started building purpose into my services.
Building purpose into their program makes my clients feel like every exercise I selected was carefully engineered specifically for them.
And clients absolutely love their program. It’s like they suddenly love eating their vegetables versus just tolerating them because mom and dad said it was good for them.
What if after their consultation, every new client left thinking:
“Wow! This training protocol was made specifically FOR ME! It’s going to help with everything in my life!”
How many more new clients would you win over if you eliminated a lead’s initial skepticism—that feeling all potential clients have before buying that high-priced membership?
If you follow these two steps, you’ll turn doubters into raving fans.
Step 1: Have deep conversations to build a connection
When you first get to know a lead, you want to ask them about everything.
And when I say everything, I mean everything.
You want to know their whole story: their past experiences with exercise, their fears, hobbies, work situation, and if they’re satisfied with life.
The conversation has to move beyond the goals they came to you with and toward your becoming an important person in their lives, not just the gym.
Here are a few questions that can better establish a connection during that initial consultation.
(Bonus: Not only will these questions give you important information; they’ll demonstrate that you’re interested in your client and make the person feel like you really care—because you do!)
- What do you do for fun?
- Do you have any hobbies?
- Where are you from? → What was your favorite part about living there?
- Are there any activities you would like to get back into? If so, what has prevented you from doing so?
- Are there any activities you would like to start doing?
- What are your past experiences with exercise? → What did you love about it? → What did you hate about it?
- What do you do for work? → How do you feel during and/or after work?
Now you have a much deeper understanding of who you have in front of you.
Which takes you to Step 2 . . .
Step 2: Sprinkle what’s meaningful to clients throughout your programming
Most people hire a coach to get in shape, which usually means to lose weight. But if you learn how to sprinkle purpose throughout your service, clients will see how you can impact every aspect of their lives, not just the numbers on the training floor and/or scale.
Here’s the best part: It doesn’t matter what kind of clients you have or what kinds of things they like and want to do. Your training protocol will make them better at it all because . . .
Strength Makes Everything Better
Now, I can’t guarantee that getting stronger will help high-level athletes add an inch to their vertical jump.
However, most coaches work with people who have never lifted before, are deconditioned, and have very little strength. In this case, I can say that strength will push the needle in the right direction, no matter what activity or hobby they’re into.
If you go from no strength to some strength, life gets easier. Period. These are the people most coaches are working with. This makes selling training easy. No matter what your clients struggle with or want to do, strength helps.
Here are a few examples of what sprinkling purpose looks like:
Coach: What do you like to do for fun?
Client: My family likes to go hiking on the weekend.
Coach: That’s awesome! Where do you like to go?
Client: Well, the frustrating part is I can only hike two to three miles, so we only hike at our local state park. My partner gets upset with me because my knee starts to hurt toward the end.
Coach: I can see why that’s frustrating. I’d be curious to see how that changes once you start training. Your partner might have a hard time keeping up with you in a few months!
Client: You mean this program will help my hiking?!
This can also happen on the training floor. Let’s say this client doesn’t care much for strength training. They just know it’s important. During the consult, they tell me they struggle taking the stairs at work because they get winded and their knees get tired.
Client: (performing assisted step-ups)
Coach: How does that feel?
Client: Pretty good. I feel my glutes working.
Coach: Awesome! Imagine going up the stairs at work feeling your glutes instead of your knees!
Client: Oh wow—that would be amazing!
Coach: That’s basically what you’re doing right now. Learning how to go up the stairs without feeling pain.
Let’s say this client just wants to crush workouts, but you know they need to focus on the basics and learn how to coordinate their body a little better. You can take what’s meaningful to them and give every aspect of your program purpose—even the parts most people like to skip, like the warm-up.
Client: (doing a half-kneeling exercise)
Coach: Do you remember telling me how you used to love lunges until they started causing you pain?
Coach: How does this exercise feel?
Client: Feels pretty good.
Coach: This is basically Lunge Level 1. If you can do this, we can definitely get you lunging again. It’s an amazing warm-up for all types of lunges.
So the warm-up activity your client might have questioned (“Why am I doing this?”) now has a reason behind it. This newfound purpose will make them more willing to do it and keep at it.
These types of conversations demonstrate to your clients that your services go beyond meeting the initial goal they had when they walked into the gym (or hired you online). They now know that you provide a holistic approach, that everything you do for them is to make their lives better.
That everything has a purpose.