Is there really more to Personal Training than just physically training a client?
Our job as a PT doesn’t just start and end at training our client’s alone. There’s much more to it than that. One of the other important roles we have as a PT involves us encouraging our clients to change their behaviour and in most cases to help maintain that behavioural change.
We must first understand what drives or motivates a client to achieve a goal and initiate the behavioural change in the first place. Is this drive coming from within (intrinsic), or is it external (extrinsic)? If your client is driven from within, then your main job is probably not going to be providing them with loads of motivation. They are there because they want to be and they want to achieve this goal for themself and their wellbeing. This client could be more interested in seeking your expert guidance and knowledge than your motivational skills. If your client is driven by something more tangible, such as praise, rewards, money or glory then they most certainly have come to you to receive motivation to achieve that goal.
Secondly, we must understand how to find the best way to motivate these clients in order for them to want to change and continue to do so.
As trainers, we all have our own natural style of motivational techniques. This is what works best for us and generally what we feel most comfortable with. Each client we train may actually respond quite differently to these techniques. Some of our natural techniques may work really well on some people but for those who don’t respond well, we may need to look to use some different styles. In order to get the best out of each individual client, we must find what works best for the individual.
So how do we do that?
Start with goal setting. If you can find out the why, then it will make your job a little easier when it comes to the how. Why did they hire you? What are their expectations of you and the service you provide? What do they need from you? If you understand the client’s why then you’ll be in a better position to get the how right.
To get the best out of any client, we need to provide the right type and right amount of motivation. If we give too much or the wrong type, the client may feel nervous, pressured or anxious, but if we don’t give enough, the client may not feel motivated to exercise at all. Learning what works for each client can be a little bit of trial and error at times but you can also use your skills, knowledge and perception to determine this.
It all starts with communication. What we communicate and how we do that can really set us up to succeed or unfortunately if done poorly, fail. Be aware of how you communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. It’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. Your body language can be telling one story and your words can be saying something completely different. Non verbal communication could be as simple as using a thumbs up or touch cue or even the facial expressions you make.
If we can effectively communicate with our clients, we will end up finding what works best. Remember that different personality types may respond better to certain types of communication and ultimately certain types of motivation. From client to client, you may need to change from the “tough love” style to the “in your face” style to the “nurturing” style and possibly all in one day!
If you can find the motivational style to suit the individual then changing that style to suit each client, it will work in your favour and in theirs. If you take the “one size fits all” approach you may end up losing a client simply because their needs aren’t being met.
So, to say that a personal trainer only physically trains clients and nothing more, is an understatement. A great PT has many skills. Understanding why someone has hired you and being able to motivate them in a way that gets the best out of them, will ultimately make you a better trainer.