As a coach, you have three main client types to consider: the motivated, the unmotivated, and the one who’s lost it. Each client type has their own unique set of needs and different types of coaching required.
There are three types of clients I coach. They’re not physical, but they are psychological. And I try to help each type of client with the books I read and the thoughts I think to be a better coach. I coach these types of clients through these three ways.
The 3 types of clients who need to be coached successfully, and the 3 coaching approaches we can use to coach each type and reach our goals.. Read more about communicating clearly and specifically can be useful for level 3 clients who have and let us know what you think.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen a really depressing trend in the fitness business.
Clients who don’t immediately do all the trainer wants — those who “aren’t willing to work hard for the outcomes they want,” according to personal training gurus — should be “fired.”
That strikes me as both lazy and cynical: are fitness experts really supposed to deal solely with the easiest clients, those who want the least assistance, while refusing to assist others who require the most assistance?
We’re capable of a lot more.
At, we hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to coaching — and I’m guessing you do, too, if you’re a fitness professional reading this.
Don’t terminate your clients; instead, assist them!
We emphasize in the Certification Program that fitness practitioners should never dismiss clients as “unmotivated” or “lazy.” Every customer can reduce weight, gain muscle, and enhance their overall health.
How do you go about doing it?
An elite fitness professional, on the other hand, understands that various customers require dramatically different coaching approaches, and will adjust his or her approach as needed to assist ALL types of clients.
At, we divide our clients into three groups, each of which requires a particular coaching approach:
Client #1 has a low level of compliance. Struggles to stay on track with the program.
Client #2 has a high level of compliance but poor results. Follows the regimen, although the outcomes are less than ideal.
Client #3: Excellent compliance and outcomes. Follows the program and achieves better-than-expected results.
Each of these personalities has distinct requirements and the power to make significant changes.
Learn how to coach each group, and you’ll start seeing results with EVERY client who comes to you for help.
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Client #1 has a low level of compliance.
Struggles to carry out the activity you recommend. Approximately 60% of all clients. The goal is to increase compliance. Make it overly simple as a strategy.
For example, in our online coaching programs, a low compliance client is someone who follows fewer than 80% of the habits and routines we recommend, resulting in unsatisfactory results.
Of course, many individuals advise you to fire this type of client. There is one minor snag: this category accounts for the great majority of all personal training clients.
Many trainers dismiss Low Compliance clients as unmotivated, yet with minor assistance in changing behaviors, this group of people can achieve incredible results.
We’ve discovered that the Low Compliance client requires the following items:
1. A clear knowledge of why they care about change. We never presume that our clients care about becoming in shape; instead, we ASK them. “How significant is this to you on a scale of 1 to 10?” If it’s less than a 9, we start by assisting the client in discovering their own sense of purpose and meaning in their fitness journey; otherwise, it’ll only be a matter of time before they give up.
2. Belief in their abilities to complete the task at hand. This is the root of a lot of problems for clients: they aren’t sure they can do what the coach is asking. And many coaches neglect to inquire, either out of rush or ignorance! We’ve found that unless a client is nearly 100 percent confident in their ability to implement a strategy, they won’t start in earnest.
3. To eliminate uncertainty, provide clear operating instructions. We make no assumptions about our clients’ ability to comprehend what we’re asking of them. “Take fish oil,” sounds simple enough, but which brand should you use? How much is it? When am I going to take it? On an empty stomach or with meals? Any uncertainty in your counsel will reduce trust and, as a result, compliance.
4. They can feel successful if they practice simple, high-value routines. Coaches frequently believe their counsel is simpler to follow than it is, and they become judgemental of clients who do not. In truth, changing one’s behavior is quite tough. A piece of advice as basic as “Make a healthy breakfast” can mean a slew of changes in a client’s life, from how they shop to what time they get up in the morning.
So be cautious when giving guidance; it’s far easier than most coaches think to give advice that’s virtually difficult to implement.
What is the solution? Make it easier – far too easy. Only suggest the tiniest behavioral modification that will result in a noticeable and dramatic bodily change.
So, how do you juggle all of this at the same time?
The confidence technique is as follows:
1. Make a two-week commitment to a daily habit. “Each day, you’ll prepare a healthy breakfast from the Gourmet Nutrition cookbook,” for example.
2. Inquire about the client’s confidence in their ability to complete the task. “How certain are you, on a scale of 1 to 10, that you can do that every day for the next two weeks?”
3. If they’re at least 90% sure, go ahead and do it. If they respond “9” or “10,” encourage them to begin exercising that habit, and check in with them in a week to see how they’re doing.
4. If they’re less than 90% confident, propose a less difficult behavior and try again. If they say “8” or lower, make the habit easier or come up with a new one. For example, “How about a fast shake every morning?” or “How about 6 grams of fish oil every morning?” Continue until you receive a confidence score of “9” or “10” on the scale. Clients usually say, “Psshhh, well, obviously I can do that,” when you get it right. That’s exactly the kind of answer we’re hoping for.
5. Once you’ve identified your behavior, tell the client that he or she may ignore everything else. The client must understand that only this one habit is important. They can disregard everything else they’ve learned about nutrition and all they believe they “should” do. However, once they commit, they must maintain this behavior on a daily basis.
Why does it work?
The client is co-creating their own new behavior rather than following commands. We guide and encourage clients to make their own decisions rather than disempowering them by telling them what to do. All change, in the end, has to come from within.
The behaviors chosen inspire confidence, are practical, and most importantly, are reachable. Clients receive simple, easy-to-follow daily habits that are tailored to their own lives and talents, significantly increasing compliance.
You can assist your clients feel bigger than the struggle ahead by simplifying and clarifying the habit.
As their confidence grows, so will their compliance and rate of improvement (fat reduction, performance, and health markers). Then you may gradually challenge them with bigger behaviors, and the results will compound.
Client #2 has a high level of compliance but poor results.
Takes the necessary action but does not achieve the desired outcome. Approximately 20% of all clients. Measurable progress is the goal. Experiment with new (and potentially more difficult) behaviors.
A client with high compliance but low results adheres to the program but does not get the desired results.
A high compliance client in our online coaching programs follows more than 80% of the habits and routines we recommend but falls short of our physical transformation goals. When it comes to fat loss, we seek for clients who are shedding less than 0.6 percent of their body weight per week (for men) or 0.5 percent of their body weight per week (for women) (for women).
[One caveat: fat loss isn’t always a straight line, and it might happen in fits and starts.] However, the following figures are what we aspire for on a long-term basis.]
This type of client can be just as aggravating as the first, but for a different reason: they appear to be doing everything “right,” but the results aren’t showing up. But let’s not “fire” these customers just yet. They, too, can receive assistance.
With this type of client, the goal is for them to lose weight at or above the desired rate, which will boost their confidence and drive. And we employ two strategies to aid their success.
First, we assist them in achieving a somewhat greater rate of compliance. In this type of client, simply increasing compliance from 80% to 90% can make all the difference.
Second, we tailor their curriculum to their specific needs. And this is when all of your hard work as a fitness pro will really pay off. This is where you start tweaking the workout program, introducing more complex dietary principles, and implementing those fancy, body-type-specific supplement regimes.
[I strongly advise you to look at the Level 1 Certification if you want to see how we do individualization.] We provide advanced troubleshooting and individualization ideas in the certification program.]
Client #3: Excellent compliance and results
Takes the necessary action and achieves the desired outcome. Approximately 20% of all clients. The goal is to avoid burnout and develop long-term habits. Praise, permission to be imperfect, and watchful attention are all good strategies.
A client that follows the program with higher than 80% compliance and meets the target rate of body composition change is referred to as a High Compliance, High Results client.
For example, at, we aim for a fat loss rate of 0.6 percent of body weight per week for males and 0.5 percent of body weight per week for women.
Higher numbers are wonderful, indicating that people are following the program and seeing the desired outcomes. They do, however, require your cautious attention.
When things with this client are going well, we suggest two things: congratulations and a new challenge.
Offer praise and acknowledgment in the “congratulations” section. “It’s clear how much you want this, John – your commitment and results so far have been incredible. You did a fantastic job. Let’s keep going.”
You might also include a gift certificate to a healthy restaurant or a book that you think they’d like. You might also put their name on the gym’s progress bulletin board.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you do it; what matters is that you acknowledge their hard work and accomplishment, whether privately or publicly.
In terms of the challenge, consider assigning them a similar but more difficult habit to follow. That is, provided they are still a “9” or “10” on the confidence scale. And, as time goes on, adopt routines that will help you develop long-term dietary strategies while also allowing for mistakes.
If a client has a history of binge eating, habits could involve weekly hunger management or appetite awareness practice; if a client has a tendency to be obsessive about food, habits could focus on eating healthy while loosening the “rules” a little.
We mention providing this type of individual your “cautious” attention because the clients who start out the strongest often do so by putting everything they have into their goal. That’s fine, as long as they’re also devising tactics for when they can’t devote 100 percent of their time to fitness. And none of us can maintain a constant state of fitness.
So keep a watch on your superstars as well, because burnout is always a possibility with them. You’re in a great position to aid if the situation occurs, and if you keep an eye on things, you can often avoid it from happening in the first place.
Add nutrition coaching to your résumé to assist all clients.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from other fitness professionals, “Man, I envy you.” You have the most desirable clients. I’d enjoy my career if I could obtain clients like you.”
But, like every other fitness professional, we begin with the same mix of clients. The distinction is that we understand that each client may progress up the ladder to High Compliance, High Results.
We start with the concept that every client has the potential to become the “ideal client,” and we’re continually experimenting with new strategies to help them do so.
The ability to recognize what type of customer someone is right now, how we can assist them, and what particular steps we can take to move them to the next level are all critical.
That is the job of the elite fitness expert, and it is a talent you can learn with a little effort. If you want to learn how, we’ll show you how in the Certification.
If you’re a coach or wish to be one…
It’s both an art and a science to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a way that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.
Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.
Every coach has a unique personality, but you don’t have to like them all. A successful coach needs to be able to recognize the types of clients they are dealing with and tailor their style of coaching to fit the situation. What type are you?. Read more about what is a practice associated with full presence and engagement as a client-centered coach and let us know what you think.
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