As the name suggests, the personal training relationship is personal. Really think for a second about all the types of information clients entrust to their trainers: physical insecurities, health issues, mental state, and probably a good dose of personal gossip as well. They trust the trainer’s judgement in the areas of health and fitness so much that they pay for his opinions and expertise.

So what is the trainer’s role in helping clients get to that level of openness? It’s easy to say that trust simply builds over time, but really there has to be some sort of initial confidence in the trainer before a client will even sign the contract. And after that, sure, the rest comes with time.

A trainer can use the same three techniques throughout the relationship to both establish a foundation of trust and to build on it.

Start by listening carefully to concerns before jumping in with solutions.

Taking it a step further, be sure to communicate how you arrived at the solution. Few things are more condescending than someone saying, “I’ve been doing this a long time. Just trust me.”  Doesn’t that come across like, “Because I said so”? Don’t be that trainer. Use questions and concerns as an opportunity to educate the client or to offer a modification that may be better suited.

We can all learn something. Every situation is an opportunity to experience a new perspective that you can take forward in your career and better understand how clients might be feeling.

Admitting when a topic is beyond the scope of practice goes a long way in building trust.

Personal trainers play a vital role in their clients’ health and wellness. We all know that. The evidence is all around us in the questions they ask, the expertise in diverse areas they expect, and the fact that they continue to return for their sessions. And that’s great.

The good news is you don’t have to pretend to know everything. It takes the pressure off you to give yourself the freedom to admit that you don’t diagnose injuries, create specific meal plans or sell supplements. Besides showing that you can be trusted to only provide information in which you specialize, there’s freedom in admitting when you don’t know something and explaining that the subject is out of the range of a personal trainer’s scope of expertise.

Treat your personal training business as a business, and be a professional at all times.

When you take yourself seriously, a funny thing happens: other people take you seriously, too. But, “be a professional” is an abstract term. So, what exactly do I mean?

Foremost, I’m talking about a mental state. It means you introduce yourself as a fitness trainer and believe it…even if thus far you’ve only goaded your brother into taking a few sessions.

It means you’ve gotten an education in the forms of certification and continuing ed. courses. It wouldn’t hurt to have professionally-made business cards or postcards on you (at all times!) to hand out. You never know when or where you’ll make a connection.

It means having goals and a written plan for your business.

All of those things send a signal to others that you are the real thing, and then congratulations are in order. You’ve got a strong enough foundation on which to build a tower of trust.

Building trust is vital to a successful business and career, so help fellow trainers by giving your thoughts on this topic. Talk to us in the comments on Facebook.

If you’re an NFPT trainer, be sure to join our Facebook community group!

Tanisha Rule

Tanisha Rule has a BA in English and is a former Mad Dogg-certified Spinning instructor. She taught indoor cycle and boot camp and has now combined her passions as a full-time writer for the health and fitness industries, check out her site at www.ruleboutiquewritingservices.com. If she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found happily training for an endurance event, likely after having said, “This is my last one for a while,” because there is no finish line; there is only progress.