Rick Richey, MS, PES, CES


In a perfect world we, as personal trainers, could simply design systematic programs for clients who are more than ready and willing to do everything we ask.  Clients would not talk all the time, tell us what to do, cancel or continually show up late, complain, or ask “why” all the time. They would only say, “thank you sir,
may I have another?” 
However, in this world, clients will and do complain, talk all the time,tell us what to do, cancel or come late, and always ask “why.” Challenging clients come with the territory but with some sound professional advice, we can conquer bad habits and work smoothly toward changing lives.  Here are a few ways to overcome obstacles.

Clients that: LOVE TO TALK

Some clients jabber on incessantly with what seems like an
inability to stop.  This can be a challenge for many trainers.  How
do we work with someone that loves to talk more than they want to

Here are few important additions to the workout you need to use: 

1) Get a stop watch.  With the stop watch you should time the rest interval
because the rest is usually our verbose clients cue to start
Once the timer on the stop watch goes off, we have to work again – no
talking and 2)  Increase exercise intensity to fatigue. If your client
talks throughout the actual exercise, you may not be pushing them hard


This topic can have several different sub-categories such as clients that want
to do the same workout every time, clients that want to do something
different every time, clients that want to do too much, or they never want
to push themselves hard enough.  This is where the ASSESSMENT and RESULTS
DRIVEN PROGRAMMING can really come in handy.

We should not negate the exercises people want to do, but if those exercises
are not helping them get to their goals, we must change. Trainers must find out
what the clients NEED to do.  This takes place via the ASSESSMENT. 
Now we have to find the balance between what the
WANTS, NEEDS, and GOALS by taking all aspects under consideration.

Clients that: HATE TO WORKOUT

There is a very important question to ask when you come across a client that
hates to workout.  What DO you like to do?  

What can we do that you do not loathe?  What exercise
or sports-related activity have you done in the past that you
actually enjoyed?  Here is the most successful way to get them in the door
keep them training – MAKE IT FUN!  Ask questions about what they like (or
hate the least). 

You may want to try a unique approach such as having your client that hates
to workout actually train you for a session.  Aside from doing some
punishing exercises, they may very well give you a list of exercises that they
like to do.  It also creates a stronger bond between you and this client,
and allows for more trust.  Finally, nothing makes exercise more tolerable
than RESULTS.  If weight is lost, muscle is gained, “tone” is
established...then exercise is bearable!


We tend to want to appease our clients, but tardiness is a behavioral issue
that needs to be discussed.  Why are they late all the time?  Why do
they have to cancel?  I know the excuses range from work, to kids, to traffic,
to forgetting their ID to get in the gym.  Have a serious talk with your
client.  When it comes down to it, the client must understand how
important their GOALS and RESULTS are to us, as well as our time.  Many
people get trainers for different reasons, and a major reason is
accountability!  Do not let them skip out on the person that is there to
keep them accountable.  And remember, if their cancellation and tardiness
adversely affects your business, you may have to let them go.

Clients that: ASK WHY?

I love working with clients that ask why we do certain exercises. They keep
you honest and make you have a reason for why you choose exercises. 
Our clients are more educated than ever.  Many know names of muscles and
diseases that we may have to go look up after the session. 
This makes you a better trainer.  If the questions start to get in the way
of the exercise flow, show them your program flow on paper.  Show your
clients the programs that you have written out for them.  Show them how it
relates to their GOALS, NEEDS, and WANTS.  Once a clear
understanding is given that you are a professional and that you know what
you are doing, the questions tend to wane and the workouts tend to flow without
question.  If your client needs to learn more, schedule a session where
you both can sit down and discuss their programs.

Though the perfect world does not exist, our training can be made better by
adhering to several tenets.  Our training must be focused on our clients,
and it must be done with an understanding as to why they talk, control,
dislike, or question our training.  Clients can come
with obstacles and it is up to us to find ways to help give them results -
despite those obstacles.

About the Author

Rick Richey, MS, PES, CES, joined the National Academy of Sports Medicine as
a master instructor in April of 2006.  In addition to instructing
thousands of individuals with NASM’s educational curriculum and fitness
methodology, Rick, works as a senior faculty member with
Town Sports International and has held various senior roles with Equinox
Fitness. Richey received his MS from California University of Pennsylvania in
Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a focus on Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention.

Published: 2008-10-03