Client Handling for Personal Trainers

Author: Dr Akshay Alawani , INFS faculty


Wikipedia says, ‘A personal trainer is an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines.’
When we asked people what they expect from personal trainers, the response was cocktail of expectations. Some people considered a personal trainer’s work is only to prescribe exercises and some expected a friend who should help them during workout. It is obviously because different set of gyms have different principles that the personal trainers are supposed to follow. However, when we asked about what common mistakes personal trainers do, surprisingly, we found out that same mistakes were getting repeated in different gyms and no one even has noticed those. Let’s see some examples:

1. Personal trainers trying to sell supplements to clients
2. Personal trainers using mobile phones while training client
3. Personal trainer training multiple clients at a time on strength training floor
4. Personal trainer not paying attention to personal needs and giving everyone standard set patterns
5. Personal trainer not carrying out proper risk assessment
6. Personal trainer who himself is out of shape
7. Personal trainer who bitches about another personal trainer
8. Personal trainer discussing his client’s personal information with other clients without proper consent
So, how can one become a personal trainer who is professional, who can easily deals with different situations and is capable enough to judge such mistakes?

The answer lies in ‘Client Handling.’ In simple words, we can define client handling as ‘a way to deal with past/present/potential client based on current situation. ’ Effective client handling will include analyzing behavior of a particular client and giving a proper response according to that situation. There is no one way to handle clients, however, at INFS, we can train you so that you can learn some basic things and using those techniques, you can develop your own unique methods. This chapter is actually covered in detail in INFS Personal Trainer Course. In this article we will cover basic guidelines. These rules will remain constant even if the client is new/past/potential.
A beginner walking inside gym for the first time expects a particular atmosphere. If that person is a teenager, mostly the goal is to look more attractive and fit. If this guy sees bunch of out of shape trainers, do you think he will be interested in going for personal training services with one of these guys? Most likely, no! We definitely do not promote six packs as way of life but the 40 inch waist is simply unacceptable. Appearance matters.
Communication is necessary tool. As a personal trainer you certainly have authority and from time to time,  you should help your client learn more. However, when your client is speaking, you should listen to him carefully. Everyone has a need to feel listened. This way you build a communication and a healthy bond. Listening is more important than dictating in PT profession.

As a personal trainer, you directly deal with people and work on their bodies. Every person has different needs. To treat every client effectively, you need to be equipped with advanced knowledge.

Keep upgrading yourself when it comes to that. Nutrition and exercise is completely different than what it was 10 years ago, and in future too, it will change fast. Stay ahead and match the pace of change.

Be professional. How? Do not commit the mistakes that we mentioned above. Personal trainer should behave like one and should not play the role of a delivery guy who runs to supplement stores and forces clients to consume a bunch of supplements. When you do that and start genuinely caring about client, your image improves and hence the number of clients will go up too. If someone is a personal trainer working with a client and who is on his mobile phone half of the time,then such behavior is unacceptable. Also, when client wants to talk about his breakup on treadmill, stop him.

Never compromise on quality.
Lot of personal trainers, lack ability to say I don’t know. What impression do you have of a teacher, who, in spite of not knowing right answer, claims to know it and gives wrong response instead? You certainly do not have positive impression of that teacher. Saying I do not know, is not a crime. Claiming wrong as right is scandal, especially when you are training human body.

Keep a helping approach. When paying attention to a rep of your client, if someone is making a mistake in their form on the neighboring machine, mention the mistake and try to correct it. A professional trainer should behave responsibly and should make sure that his client should not get injured. It only makes people respect you more and shows that you are passionate.

Keep your professional bonds healthy. If you think your colleague is doing something wrong, rather than telling it to others, discuss that with him first. Never say bad things about other personal trainers until and unless it is absolutely necessary. Let your work speak for itself. People have the ability to understand who is better and who is not. Let them be the judge. Also, if one engages more time in co-operating rather than competing, everyone will progress and do well.

Best service is best advertisement. Keep this in mind always. If you ever want to invest time in advertising, look at what you offer first. When you promise a customized nutrition chart, but offer “keto”  to every client, do not expect to get great response. Then you can find ways to show it off. If you promise the moon and fail to deliver, the client will be disappointed. You won’t get any help from him in future and he will mostly defame you after his program is over.

These are few important basic guidelines to improve client handling skills of a personal trainer. Hope they have taught you something new and I hope that they will help you for better career. Detailed client handling has been explained in the course syllabus of INFS Personal Trainer Certification which stands out as a unique attribute.

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