1 October, 2013

Kate Swann and Kristina Mamrot are psychologists and authors of The Ultimate Guide To Training Overweight And Obese Clients: Fitness Professionals Only. This series of articles aims to help PTs engage their clients, prevent client dropout, and help clients get fit and lose weight.

Golden Rule #1 for Engaging Clients

Be a good listener.

When you’re working as a PT, the single most important aspect of your business isn’t kettle-bell theory or muscle groups. It’s engaging and keeping your clients.

What we hear you ask? Isn’t technique important?

Of course it is. But if your clients don’t stick around long enough to listen to your words of wisdom, no amount of theoretical know-how is going to make a lot of difference.

As a PT, you want bums in seats (or feet in trainers), and you want those bums to return week after week. Until you’ve got that happening, you can’t help your clients, and your clients aren’t going to see results.

And in our experience, the single most important technique to learn for retaining clients, is (drum roll please): learn how to be a good listener.

Now being a good listener is especially important for PTs, because you guys are dealing with people who are feeling fat, self-conscious, fat, out-of-shape, fat, badly dressed, and fat. Oh, and did we say your new clients are likely to be feeling fat?

Because, let’s face it, the majority of your clients will be coming to you to help them lose weight, as well as get fitter and stronger. And when people need to lose weight, they feel fat. They also feel like they’re being judged by the thin people (that’s you), that they look like they don’t have a clue about what they should be doing (that’s because they haven’t learned yet), and also like they’ve dressed in their gardening clothes because they’re not wearing the latest trendy gym gear that only come in sizes XXS to S.

Overweight people are hyper-sensitive to even the smallest whiff of criticism or judgement. They’ll even hear or see judgement when it’s not there.

So it’s vital for you to connect with your new clients as quickly as you can so they have some chance of feeling less awkward, and the likelihood of them returning next week increases.   So what makes a good listener? We’ve put a list together of what we like to call Listeners: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (if you don’t get this reference, you’re not watching enough classic movies – and we’re showing our age).

Good listeners:

  • Are patient and don’t jump in when you’re thinking
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Give their full attention, including eye contact and posture
  • Let you know they’re following you by prompting and nodding and asking you to explain something
  • Don’t judge or criticise
  • Support you to solve your problems rather than coming up with solutions
  • Don’t relate everything you say to their own personal experience
  • Are empathic
  • Are genuinely curious about what’s going on for you
  • Are patient

Bad listeners:

  • Interrupt or change the subject
  • Speak over you
  • Are chronic advice givers
  • Are problem solvers
  • Shift their body around impatiently
  • Don’t hold eye contact and glance around a lot
  • Say Yes! That happened to me! or I remember when…

Ugly listeners:

  • Start a sentence with, No offence, but… and then proceed to offend you
  • Desert you to do something else or talk to someone else
  • Finish your sentences
  • Say I know exactly how you feel!

So there you have it folks. Take a long, hard look at this list, and clean up your act if you fall into the Bad or Ugly category. In upcoming articles we’ll be discussing more techniques for engaging your clients, keep them coming back, and helping them to lose the unwanted weight.   You can follow Kate & Kristina’s updates on Facebook, Twitter and for further details please go to our Website.


Special Offer: For all AFA students, graduates or Industry article readers if you would like to purchase the book “The Ultimate Guide to Training Overweight and Obese Clients” Kate and Kristina will kindly offer a dicount of over 55%.   The Ultimate Guide To Training Overweight And Obese Clients: Fitness Professionals Only can be purchased for only $15 each plus postage, which is great value. RRP in stores is $35.95.   All AFA readers can purchase the book by entering this coupon code (AFA1034) on our website when you checkout.

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