Unlike many professions wherein you have to spend years before gaining a person’s trust, in personal training, you must have your client’s trust from the very beginning. This is similar to the doctor/patient relationships. No one questions a doctor’s advice until the advice fails to produce results, or even worse, it produces the wrong results. People look up to you as an expert in the field of physical fitness, an expert who possesses knowledge far beyond what they know or have heard about fitness. They expect you to apply that knowledge to them in an individual manner so that they can achieve their individual goals.
People will follow your advice because they believe that advice will do nothing but help them. This is especially true for people over the age of experiencing “firsthand” the fact that their body is not responding like it did twenty years ago. They know that they will never have that youthful body again, but they also know that they can slow down, and even reverse some of the aging processes if they start to take better care of themselves. For them, a proper exercise program is as close as they can get to a “fountain of youth.”
The following are some rules you should adapt and follow to ensure that you will not lose your client’s trust.
Do not discuss a person’s problems to other people not concerned with the person’s situation. Many conversations are highly personal, and if information should “leaks-out” and rumors will start. If the person concerned has tracked you down as the one who has disseminated the information, other people will know and they may never trust you again with confidential information. If you need to discuss this information with another professional in your staff, do it behind closed doors, away from the earshot of others.
People will constantly be asking you wide range of questions over and over, and even greater range of topics. The more you answer their questions, the more likely they will continue to ask you. This makes us all feel good and important because it is a sort of honor that your word will constantly tested. It takes only one bad answer to wipe out 100 correct answers. Just like doctors, people expect you to be the professional who is right all the time.
Not knowing an answer immediately is not a sign of weakness, but giving a vague or incorrect answer in order to keep your prestige is a sign of weakness. When asked a question of which you don’t know the answer, simply say: “I’m glad you asked me that question, but to tell you truthfully, I don’t know the answer. However, I am going to research on it and give you an answer, as soon as possible. Then we’ll both know the answer.” The person asking the question will respect you even more because you will appear to be going out-of-your-way to find an answer just for them.
Many people do exercise incorrectly, or are doing exercises and programs that are counter productive to their goals. Do not say, “you’re doing it wrongly or incorrectly.” Rather, take that extra minute to explain them WHY it is wrong, and WHY your new way is a better way. No one likes to be told that they are wrong, even when they are wrong, so be tactful in your manner of approach.
If you do it in a manner that does not appear to boost your ego while lowering theirs’, they will welcome your future recommendations because they will feel that you are sincerely doing it for their benefit. Therefore, whenever you make recommendations or corrections, always take time to explain the “whys” of both the incorrect issues and methods.
Before you meet with your client to review any questionnaires and, or talk with him about starting his program, make sure that you have taken time to find out all about him as an individual person and other things to be discussed or explained during the counseling session. Pick a location that is private and where you won’t be interrupted. Explain to him that the counseling is confidential and that its purpose is to prescribe a safe, effective, and personalized exercise program to accomplish his goals. Try to get the person as relaxed and comfortable as much as possible so they can talk freely about themselves.
Although the purpose of the counseling is to establish a program for the individual, he will also be interviewing you to test your knowledge and expertise.
“By becoming acquainted with all the aspects of an individual’s life, not only will the relationship between Personal Trainer and participant be strengthened, but the Trainer can be more sensitive to that person’s needs and requirements.”
Conclusion: Each Personal Trainer/Fitness Manager should have a career investment in the instructional role; thereby, maintaining the integrity of the programs. Professional preparation and training is the key to a successful career.
By: Sammy Ayochok, NSCA – CPT, IFPA, IFBB – CSCC