7 ways to build rapport with your personal training clients

Making a success of your personal training business has a lot to do with personality and communication skills. Learning how to build rapport with your clients while still maintaining professional integrity is vitally important. If your clients love you, they’ll keep coming back for more. Best of all, they’ll tell their friends, so you’ll have to spend far fewer dollars on advertising! Here are seven ways to build rapport with your personal training clients:

Find out what motivates them
This is a key driver in any business. If you can tap into what motivates them to want your service and what they want to achieve, you’ll be better able to help them, which will keep them coming back. Find out from your clients:

  • Why are they here?
  • What do they want to achieve?
  • Is there an event coming up that they are training towards?

Take note of what makes them happy
Tap into what presses their ‘happiness button” and remember to use it.

  • Do they feel fulfilled when they have worked harder/achieved more reps/run faster?
  • Do they feel better when there’s been more social interaction or laughs?
  • Are they at their best after they have lowered their stress levels?

Build Rapport with Personal Training Clients - Sage Fitness

Develop an affinity with your client
Do you have anything in common? Do you like similar movies or music? Do you both follow football? By finding common ground and common interests, you can build rapport with your client, deepening your connection. Anything that helps you connect with them builds a healthy relationship, which will be less likely to break.

Be a friend
Ask them how their week was, how things are at work, what’s going on in their life and so on. It is possible and recommended to build a friendship with your client, just as long as it stays professional.

Develop a sense of humour
For many of us, life is way too serious and stressful. Exercise is a chance to let off steam, have some fun, share some jokes and generally have a good time. Make the most of the situation and keep your sessions light and happy. Your personal training session is something that your clients look forward to, rather than another chore.

Stay professional
Just as you want to “do” certain things to gain rapport with your clients, it pays to make sure you “don’t” cross the line and engage in activities that will quickly burn your relationship. Remember the old adage about never discussing politics, sex or religion at dinner parties? Keep it in mind. It’s easy to assume falsely that just because you share the same sense of humour with someone, they’ll share the same political views as you too. Nothing can turn a light-hearted conversation into a heated row like straying down the wrong conversational path!

personal training course in melbourneIMPORTANT: Remember that your “friendship” is a professional one and truthfully, it has to be more about the clients’ interests than your own. Don’t make the mistake of bringing up your own issues or relationship problems in the session, regardless of how caring and interested your clients may seem.  Clients may start to feel burdened by your issues and be reluctant to meet up with you if they think that they will hear more about the latest problems with your girlfriend/housemate.

Pay attention to body language
If you pay attention to your client’s body language and very gently mimic their tone of voice and body language, you can subconsciously build trust with them. It also shows that you understand the client, and can empathise with them. Again, you must act with subtlety here – no creeping people out!

For some of you, these tips may appear to be common sense. After all, essentially it’s about using and developing your people skills.  Given that you are choosing to work closely with people, communicating and empathising with them hopefully should not be hard work. However, it pays to keep these tips in mind:

  • remember to focus on the client and not yourself
  • empathise and note what makes them happy
  • be professional
  • have some fun!

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Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of training in Australia, she is currently writing her PhD thesis on defining quality training in the Australian vocational education sector.
Vicki Tuchtan

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