We all have clients that fit into one of three “types”, and it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into.  While some may be easier to coach than others, and some may be harder to coach than others, they all have something in common.  The problem is that we have no idea what kind of client we’re getting when we open our doors.

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing that there are only two types of clients: the ones who want to get fit and the ones who want to stay fat. In reality, there are three types of clients, and each type has different needs.

In our certification program, we try to remind our participants that every client, even those who seem unmotivated (and maybe even downright lazy), can lose fat, build muscle, and improve their health.

In today’s update, we want to share with you some strategies to help you get the most out of every client you work with – from clients with low compliance and low results to clients with high compliance and high results.

Finding the right customer

How many times have the fitness gurus taught you as a personal trainer or coach how to identify and find your ideal client, the kind of client who is always motivated, does exactly what you say and gets great results? You hear it all the time.

You also hear about firing your clients who are not qualified, who are not willing to work hard to get the results you want. And while this advice sounds promising, even inspiring, the reality is a little more difficult.

If you fire all the customers who are not willing to give up all their bad habits and adopt (dozens of) new ones from day one, how many customers will you have left?

A customer? Five customers? You don’t?

Perfect clients like her are pretty rare, aren’t they? After all, they only represent 10-20% of people who want to change their bodies.

But are they really perfect? Just because they can start strong? Sure, at first they can be disciplined little soldiers. But what about tomorrow? And the next day? Many clients who get off to a fast start also quickly experience burnout when other things in their lives begin to require attention.

And don’t forget the other customers – 80-90% of potential customers. What if motivation wasn’t really their problem? What if their limiting factor was something else? What if we taught you how to find that limiting factor, how to effectively eliminate it and open up a whole new world of possibilities?

If you learn to help all types of clients, not just strong beginners, I’m sure you’ll become a better coach. I also bet you’ll have a richer experience as a fitness professional. And I can guarantee you’ll have a lot more clients wanting your knowledge.

In today’s article, I want to give you some tips on how to achieve success with ANY client who asks you for advice. In our company, we divide them into three types. They all have special needs and the ability to make drastic changes.

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Customer 1: Low compliance, poor results

A client with low adherence, i.e. low results, is someone who has difficulty following the program. In the context of our online coaching system, this specifically means that a client with low adherence will perform less than 80% of the habits and workouts we prescribe. As a result, they get poor results.

So what’s the point of working with these types of clients? The first is to increase their compliance rate to 80%.

Of course, these are the kind of customers that many people advise you to steer clear of. Unfortunately, these types of clients also make up the vast majority of personal training clients.

While most coaches automatically assume that a client with poor attendance and results is unmotivated, there is actually much more to it than that. These clients have almost unlimited potential, but they need help to change their habits.

In particular, we found that clients with low compliance and poor outcomes needed the following:

  • a sense of importance;
  • Confidence in their ability to do what is asked of them;
  • clear operating instructions to avoid ambiguity;
  • simple habits that can make them feel successful

Here’s a simple way to use all four and keep your customer engaged and motivated.  Give them a habit for two weeks – for example, exercise 4 days a week. So, put it this way:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can exercise 4 days a week for 1 hour each?

Let’s take a look back.

First: You don’t say you train 4 days a week. It’s an order, and it probably won’t be implemented because there’s no room for client input.

Second: They’ve put the power in their hands. They should think about the question and answer it based on their confidence in their ability to accomplish the task.

What happens if the customer says 9 or 10?  They will train four days a week!

But if they say less than 9, it’s time to give them something they’re sure they can handle. (Here’s a simple truth: small progressions are better than no progressions.)

In this situation, you should limit the changes. So here’s what you can ask:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can exercise 2 days a week for 1 hour each?

The idea is to make the goal smaller and smaller until your customer gives you an answer of 9 or 10. So this is a new habit for them to follow.

Notice how this way of framing builds confidence and creates a sense of self. You give the customer a choice, but he determines the purpose of his behavior. And it’s powerful.

Moreover, by simplifying and clarifying the habit, you remove any ambiguity and allow the customer to sense more than one problem. They know exactly what to do, and they are confident that they can do it.

This leads to a snowball effect, and the more confident the customer is, the more compliant they are and the faster the results. You can then challenge them by choosing more serious habits. And the results are self-developing.

Customer No 2 : High match, low results

A client with high compliance and low results follows the program but does not achieve optimal results. In our online coaching system, a client with high adherence completes over 80% of the habits and workouts we prescribe. However, clients who lose fat lose less than 0.6% of their body weight (for men) or 0.5% of their body weight (for women) per week.

[A cautionary note: Fat loss is not always linear, and progress can come in fits and starts. But on average, over a longer period, the above figures are what we are aiming for].

This type of customer can be just as obnoxious as the first group, but for a different reason. These clients may be frustrated because they think they are doing everything right, but the results are not forthcoming. But let’s not turn these customers away just yet. They can be helped too.

The goal of working with these clients is to have them lose weight at or above their target weight, which also increases their self-confidence and motivation. And we use two approaches to accelerate their progress.

First, we help them achieve a higher level of compliance. So just increasing the compliance rate from 80% to 90% can make a big difference.

However, if this is not sufficient, individualisation is necessary. And this is where your professional fitness training can really make a difference! This is the time to adjust your training program, introduce more advanced nutritional concepts, and begin developing fancy body-based supplementation protocols.

[If you want to see how we are adapting, I recommend you check out the certification. We offer all kinds of advanced troubleshooting and customization ideas in our certification program.  But we spend just as much time with other types of clients; they need love too].

Customer 3 – High compliance, high performance

A high fidelity and high performance client is one who follows a program with a fidelity of more than 80% and who, in the case of fat loss, loses weight at a rate of 0.6% of body weight (for men) or 0.5% of body weight (for women) per week.

This type of customer is of course as close as possible to the ideal customer. But they still need your attention.

If such a client is doing well, we recommend two things: Congratulations and a new or more difficult challenge.

A compliment may be enough for part of the greeting. It’s obvious how badly you want this, John. Their efforts and results have been amazing so far. Good job. Let’s keep it that way.

You can also offer a voucher for a healthy restaurant or a book you think they will enjoy.  They can also put their name on the bulletin board in the gym.  In the end, the method usually doesn’t matter – what matters is that you acknowledge their work and progress, privately or publicly.

As for testing, you can suggest your client try higher compliance to see if the excellent results get even better. Or maybe you can give them a similar, but new, habit to follow.

(If you keep up the above habit, you can increase their exercise to 5 days a week, assuming they are a 9 or 10 on the confidence scale).

We mentioned that you should pay special attention to this type of person, because sometimes clients who get off to a flying start abandon their goals altogether.  That’s fine, but only if they also develop strategies to follow when they can’t dedicate 100% of their lives to fitness.   And none of us can do fitness all the time.

So keep an eye on your superstars too, because there may be a dropout.  It would be great if you could help prevent this from happening.  Otherwise, it’s good to be there and help them glue the pieces together.

Being jealous of your fellow man

I can’t tell you how many times other fitness professionals have told me this: Man, I envy you. You have the best clients. If I had clients like you, I would love my job.

But I start with the same clients as any other fitness professional. The difference is this: I know that any type of client can move up the ladder and achieve high compliance and results.  I assume that every customer can become an ideal customer.

All it takes is a little compassion.  A little patience.  And being able to determine what kind of customer someone is now, how I can help them, and what specific steps I can take to take them to the next level.

If you are a trainer or want to become one….

Learning how to educate clients, patients, friends or family members about healthy eating and lifestyle changes that fit their bodies, preferences and circumstances is both an art and a science.

If you want to learn more about both, consider Level 1 certification.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you coach a client?

I coach clients by helping them to identify their goals and then providing the tools they need to achieve those goals.

What are the types of coaches?

There are many types of coaches. Some coaches are certified, some are not. Some coaches work with a specific sport, while others may work with multiple sports.

How do you coach a difficult client?

A difficult client is a client who has a difficult personality. The best way to coach a difficult client is to be honest with them and tell them what you think they need to hear.

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