Keeping clients on your schedule is easier said than done. Not everyone will mesh with you. Not everyone will make fitness a priority even if they say they want to. A little extra thought and effort pay off and get more people to stick with you.

Use these strategies to prevent clients from quitting prematurely.

1. Check in during the workout

Every 10-15 minutes, ask your client on a scale of 1-10 to report perceived effort and difficulty in her mind. You can do this after each exercise, but it might get repetitive. Ask any willing client to wear a heart rate monitor to get feedback from her body. This will tell you how different her perception is from the effort of her system.

woman on phone

2. Follow up after the workout

Always call after the first session or two and then periodically from time to time. Ask your client how he feels from the workout. You know that soreness doesn’t always appear right away and if the next session is days or a week away he might not remember.

Your client will likely not call you to tell you what happened after he left the gym. If there was too much soreness or not enough, this gives the client a chance to tell you so you can listen, empathize and plan accordingly.

Do call instead of text. If you leave a voicemail tell the client he can text in response. But, make the call – it’s more personable and leaves a great impression.

3. Prioritize the client

Do what you need to in between sessions so that you are laser focused on your client during the FULL workout. Maybe that means leaving 10 minutes between clients so you can close your eyes and re-charge. This time could be used to eat, visit the bathroom or check your messages so you aren’t distracted during the session or worse – late and frazzled when you greet your client.

Also be mindful of your client’s schedule and time. Try not to move people around too much to fill gaps. Instead, use your downtime wisely and it won’t feel like such a waste.

4. Check in with your own self-care 

If it’s too challenging to focus on clients you might be burned out. You might need more sleep, more exercise, or more enjoyment in your life.

Even though this career is one fueled from passion, it can become a burden when the other areas of your life aren’t in balance. Clients can tell when your heart isn’t in it. They can sense your fatigue. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your clients.

5. Refer the client to someone else

Some personalities don’t match. Some training styles don’t agree. Sometimes you’ve got to do the hard thing and give a client to another trainer who is better suited to that person. Other times your client may need to see a nutritionist, massage therapist, or another type of practitioner depending on their goals and situation.

It’s okay to share. It may even earn you referrals in return. Think of it as an investment instead of a loss.

6. Clarify and re-balance expectations

If you noticed a difference in perceived exertion compared to heart rate when monitoring effort with your client there is a chance the person might also have unrealistic goals. Use educational tools and active listening to help your client see what is attainable and what might not be.

This can be easier said than done, but it’s part of your role as a personal trainer. You are the expert. If someone struggles to understand the facts it may be beyond your scope of practice at some point. But, try your best.

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Beverly Hosford

Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn how to help your clients sleep better with in Bev’s NFPT Sleep Coach Program and dive deeper into anatomy in her NFPT Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.