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22 August, 2019

A positive persona is one of the most important qualities of being a Personal Trainer. It is our job to ensure that our clients stay motivated, upbeat and focused on achieving their goals.

A client, on the other hand, might arrive at their session grumpy, unmotivated and inattentive. Maybe something has happened in their personal life or at work.

What is the best way to tackle this? Is there a one size fits all solution? How do you help them get the most out of their session?

Here you will find some helpful tips to not only combat the attitude and mindset of a “Negative Nelly or Miserable Mike”, but also to ensure they achieve their fitness goals for that session:

1. Build rapport early on
This goes without saying, but the most important thing you can build with a client apart from their physique is rapport. This trust and mutual respect can be built in a number of different ways, but the better you know a person the easier it can be to pull them out of a negative slump. Knowing someone’s favourite sport and/or team, upcoming birthday or holidays planned can also help reignite the positive fire inside them. In saying this, always let a client feel like they can express and confide their feelings with you. Sometimes negativity can be a defence for something else. Try to divert their attention to something more positive.

Fitness Rapport

2. Listen to what is actually being said
Sometimes there is a deeper meaning to the client’s problem and a real reason that they are in a negative mindset. Moving on quickly to your own agenda can appear to a client that you don’t care what they are saying. This does not mean though that we should let them speak for 30 mins of their 45 min session without completing their program. Highlight the best times for them to talk (rest periods, end of the session, while they are stretching). The key is to give them a shoulder to lean on – maybe not literally – and although counselling isn’t a direct responsibility/skill that personal trainers need to exhibit, it can’t hurt just to be an outlet for your client. What you mustn’t do is dismiss their problem altogether or just tell them to “get over it”.

Trainer Yelling

3. Don’t always try to put a positive spin on a situation
A negative client can react in an even more negative manner if you are always responding to a situation with a positive solution. Sometimes being a realist is the best way to approach the situation. Most of the time agreeing with their situation can provide the verification that they are seeking, this will then enable you to switch the conversation to a topic you know they will be happy with.

4. Remind them what their goals are and why they are training with you in the first place
Not all results that a client will receive will be positive. They might gain a small amount of weight, or they might not be achieving those extra centimetres in their arms. The most important step is to highlight how far they have come and what may have caused this result. Keep them on track at all times and focused on the improvements ahead, not any difficulties along the way.

5. Keep your session flexible
If your client comes in with a negative attitude, be flexible with the session program and include a few exercises you know they are good at and that they like. There is no point you giving them an exercise you know that they have a negative attitude about if they are already in a bad mood. Alternatively, you could also include something new and challenging to their program for the day. This can give them another focus point and draw their attention away from their negative thoughts. If they achieve a new goal, it could give them some much-needed satisfaction.

Now that you’re equipped with some handy behaviour management hints, you’ll be able to handle your next negative client and implement some effective methods to help them stay on track with their fitness training.

Written by:

Aaron Spence

Student Support Officer

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