Personal Trainers: Are you failing your clients?

Most personal trainers up and down the country will be sat there now rubbing their hands at the thought of the phone ringing off the hook with New Year enquiries…

Literally everyone has over-indulged over the last few weeks and that magical thing that happens at the start of the year is about to happen again!

Yes it’s New Year, New You time! Those special few weeks when everyone decides that this year is definitely going to be their year to make amazing things happen!

They've made their resolutions list and decided they are going to get that dream job, finally finish that project that has been winding them up for the last few months - or maybe few years. They are going to have an amazing relationship – and they are DEFINITELY going to get in the best shape of their lives in the next twelve months!


So what are you going to do? As a personal trainer – You should be feeling excited. You'll get to work with a ton of new, super-motivated clients who have clear goals they want to hit. You’re going to be busy, you’re going to be energised by working with these new clients and you’re going to earn a ton of money

– or are you?...

Before you start advertising yourself to the hordes of people desperate to work with you. I want to challenge you to determine if you're actually the right person to work with these clients? Can you give them the great service they deserve? Can you deliver great results? and are you actually a great trainer that these clients deserve to work with?

Trainers are really quick to moan about the gym being too busy for them to train in January and that they can't wait until March when it get's back to normal. Have you ever thought that so many people drop off because YOU give them such a bad experience?!

Put yourself in your potential client’s shoes. They decide, maybe after years of failure that they are going to join the gym in January. When they get there they realise that they haven't got a clue what to do! They look around the gym for some help, who are they going to turn to, the trainer who laughs at them being there or the coach that gives them a little helping hand or a few words of encouragement?

As a trainer you are always marketing yourself. You can't be a d*ck on the gym floor and then shove a pretty flyer in someone's hand, it doesn't work like that. You are in a position to change clients lives but SO many trainers out there struggle to make ends meet. As a nation we are getting fatter and fatter and the demand for a good trainer is getting higher and higher, BUT sadly, the average trainer in the UK earns less that a McDonald's employee! In my opinion this is down to the TEN SIMPLE MISTAKES that most trainers make which I've listed below.

There are so many options for potential clients, why should they choose to work with you? There are some fantastic group fitness offerings out there, some amazing apps, some great trainers delivering online programmes. If you want to succeed as a trainer then you need to be well ahead of the game and deliver something that goes above and beyond your clients expectations.

Some people think that Personal Training is on the decline, and I believe there may be some truth in this. With so many great alternatives out there, and some pretty bad trainers, without doubt, over the next 12 months we will see some average and even a few half decent trainers go out of business. I also believe with the the average trainers failing, the next twelve months could be the most enjoyable, exciting and profitable time for a great trainer!

If you want to step up in 2019 then take my simple test below:

1. Are you a fitness professional or a fitness unprofessional?

It’s amazing how many trainers just get the basics wrong. Just because you post a ton of pictures of your own training on social media doesn’t make you a great trainer.

  • Can you show a potential new client that you’ve got some great qualifications?
  • What about first aid?
  • You are insured right?
  • Have you got your own website?
  • Have you got your own business cards?
  • Have you got your own marketing materials?
  • Have you got your own uniform?
  • Do you turn up to work looking, smelling and feeling ready to perform at your highest level?
  • You’ve got pre-written emails to introduce clients to your business?
  • Have you even got a personalised message on your answer phone?
  • Do you actually reply to these enquiries!

These are simple things that EVERY trainer should have in place but I guarantee that a load of trainers will fail with so many of these simple things.

Don't let this be you! Stand out from the crowd simply being being professional, your clients deserve this as a minimum.

2. Do you offer an initial consultation

Please don’t give potential new clients a “taster session”. There are SO many things wrong with this. Just to start with, you know nothing about your client so the only thing you can give them is a taste of how YOU want to train them without any thought for what THEY actually want or need...

Take the time to sit down and LISTEN to your client. What do they want? How do they want you to help them? What negative experiences have they had in the past? What injuries do they have? What issues may get in the way of them training regularly? What concerns do they have about training? What concerns do they have about you? How can you make them feel great about working with you?

Don’t forget, this is also an opportunity for them to interview you. Never assume that they will just sign up! You should treat every consultation as you would an interview for your dream job. Read the section on types of clients in my book to find out more about this...

3. Do you Assess your clients?

Before you even consider training a client you take them through your own assessment process right?

This is the big reason why you can't just throw them into a taster session. You have no idea about how they move or any issues they may have.

The client may feel that an assessment is a waste of a session and you may just want to get started, you may even feel the same. Don’t! It’s vital that you find out exactly where your client is at before they start working with you.

If you’re not assessing then you’re only guessing, and your goal should be to deliver a structured training programme, not just a workout that feels right that day.

I don’t care what your assessment involves, you need to determine that. just make sure you’re getting a true understanding of where your client is at right now and how you can use the results of your assessment to create a programme that is right for them.

  • Bonus tip: Please don’t use the first assessment session as an opportunity to ask them to pose in their underwear so you can build up your before and after posts for Instagram!


4. Tell them about the programme you will receive

Clients want a coach that will take you on a journey – not a trainer that will take you through the workout that they did earlier that morning.

How do you work? what are your principles? How are you going to use the results of their assessment to create the ideal programme for them? How are you different to the hordes of trainers out there?

I get it. Its personal training and you won’t be able to tell them exactly what you’ll be doing, but you should be able to give them an overview of how you work and why the journey with you will excite them. The success of your training programme comes down to you building trust with your client, they need to get to know you, get to like you and eventually trust you. Showing them you know exactly what you're doing and where you are going to take them goes a long way to building this trust.

Take the time to plan out the first twelve weeks training with you, set some goals and get them engaged in the process of working with you. If you're a great trainer then you'll have this all written down in a well presented document that you can share with them...


5. Tell them about your nutrition programme

We all know, you get fit in the gym, you lose weight in the kitchen. A great trainer knows that to achieve great results for their client then they HAVE to provide them with their own nutritional programme or at least a programme that is in line with their philosophy on nutrition, If you can't do this then you are simply wasting your clients time and money! FACT.

Let’s be honest you know that the biggest results your clients will see is in the things that they do when you’re not there. Sorry to burst your bubble, you're not the hero in the process, they are! You just need to provide them with all the tools to make sure they succeed on their hero's journey.

A great coach understands that one or two hours per week of one to one time won't get results. Great results come from a client really believing in their coach and following their advice, a nutrition plan isn't just a nice add-on it's an essential piece in the tool kit for any great trainer so don't even think about taking on a new client this year without one.

** Bonus Tip - As a great trainer, you should always be learning. Sadly many trainers never read another book after getting their qualification, I'd put money on the fact that an average trainer couldn't even get to the end of this article! If you're still with me, then keep reading...

6. Be clear on exactly who you are as a coach and the type of client you want to work with.

I’ve met so many trainers in my time that speak badly about their clients. Why would you do this?

To me this not only shows a lack of respect but two other things:

  1. You’re clearly not the right trainer for that client, which means you’re probably choosing to work with anyone that will pay you – which leads on to my second point…
  2. You’re probably not a very good trainer, otherwise you’d have a diary full of clients you really wanted to work with.

Successful trainers work with great clients. Successful trainers don’t complain, they take responsibility, they make things happen, they own their current situation, they see new opportunities and have the courage to make changes that take them away from a negative situation and towards new opportunities

Unsuccessful trainers choose to complain, blame and stay the same. Deep down they know they’re not good enough but instead of facing up to this they find excuses and reasons why things aren’t quite happening for them.

If you're moaning about your clients then it's your fault. Know who you are, know what you stand for, own your current situation, don’t complain, choose to be the best trainer you can be, or do your clients a favour and get out of the industry!

7. Show some evidence to support your “expert status”

What proof do you have to show that you’re even a half decent trainer?

You've got a qualification - so what?

In most cases this isn't anywhere near enough. Thousands of people qualify each year from a six week, two week or even a few days worth of training and announce themselves as "Qualified Personal Trainers". Showing you have a certificate from an official organisation doesn't mean that you have the expertise to work with clients with any movement dysfunction, postural issues or pre-existing injuries, this type of knowledge take years to acquire and a trainer with a very basic training education can often make most of these issues significantly worse! If you're not the right person for a client then put your ego aside and find a more suitable trainer that is.

Once you have developed your knowledge, you need to showcase this through blog posts videos and books. If you’re an expert then put your message out there. If you haven’t got your own blog or at least a few articles that you can share with a prospective client then shame on you.

8. Show them your testimonials

I don’t mean the made up ones that your girlfriend wrote for you, (you know who you are!). If you’re a decent trainer then you should have people giving you testimonials without you even needing to ask.

Not only does it give you the reassurance that you're doing a great job, but it acts as your best marketing material. Let's face it, no one really cares if you think you're the best trainer in town, but if a trusted source tells someone how great you are the chances are you'll be picking up a new client pretty soon.

Show the world the proof of how great you are and let other people sell your services for you.


9. Give them a money back guarantee

Trainers are great at over-selling and under-delivering. They will start out in style and then they sadly fail to deliver on their promises.

The unprofessional side kicks in, they fail to do what they say they will do, they cancel, call in sick and let their clients down on their training goals. Don’t be like this. Over deliver at every opportunity. And if the client isn’t happy then give them their money back.

The truth is very few clients will ever ask for this and if they do then why would you want to keep seeing them?

Hand back the cash, move on and work out what you did wrong and learn from it.


10. Give them a "bore off" escape clause

My biggest gripe with personal trainers – they’re boring!

They live in their own little bubble and seem to forget that their clients come to see them because they are the complete opposite of them! They hate the gym, they don't want to "Go hard or go home" and they don't spend their Sunday's prepping chicken and broccoli into plastic containers! If they were like that they wouldn't need you.

If you’re lucky enough to be busy as a personal trainer charging really good fees then it's likely you’re working with clients that are pretty good at what they do and in a position where they can afford your services. They got there by being professional, striving for more and having something extra to offer. You can learn a lot from them!

You also need to recognise that these professional, successful people have chosen to invest in you, they've trusted you to change their body and inspire them on the way. You have to learn to engage with your clients, entertain them and show them you're as professional as them but instead you turn up looking like crap, tell them about your bad day, the stress your girlfriend is under and some crap you read on social media. Well done!


It’s busy at the bottom, there's a ton of struggling trainers out there, it's not hard to be average but there’s room at the top for great trainers, - want to find out how to get there? CONTACT ME to book a consultation.


Why did I write this? Because I want new clients to have a great experience with their personal trainers in 2019. I don’t want them to give up by March and I don't want trainers with the potential to be great to waste that potential.

I also want to raise my own standards and those of my team.

I’ve been guilty of employing some very average trainers in the past and as a result its led to me lowering my own standards and letting clients down in my business I am committed to not allowing this to happen in 2019.

If these tips have inspired you then you can get a ton more in my book, The Trusted Trainer which has recently been included on the best books for personal trainers list.

If you like what you’ve read then I am running a weekend PT Business Bootcamp at my studios in London in February 2019, There are only 6 spots available, to find out more and apply CLICK HERE