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5 Ways to Help Gym Clients Who Postpone Training Sessions

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It’s a personal trainer’s dream to have clients show up on time and on all days that they have personal training sessions booked in.  That would be the perfect scenario!  However, reality is, clients postpone and cancel their PT sessions when they get busy, injured, sick or for a range of other reasons.  Sometimes, more often than we want them to.  Although they often have very legitimate reasons for not attending, it’s still very frustrating for a personal trainer because deep down we know, it will also take away from that client’s ability to achieve their desired result results.  But the good news is, there are few things that a personal trainer can do to help clients who miss sessions:

Start by Asking This Question

Remember that for clients, making the decision to get fit and seeking the help of a personal trainer can be quite uncomfortable.  They already have expectations of what their sessions will be like, what the trainer will expect, what the studio experience will be like, and sadly may even worry what the trainer will think of them if they cannot meet their standards. You have to remember that clients often start their journey already feeling very self-conscious of the way they look, so the uncertainty of what to expect in a fitness session can be very stressful for them. 

So next time, try asking your client “What is it like for you to come here?”, and hopefully they will start to open up and talk to you about how they really feel.  Asking this question, allows them a chance to express their fears PLUS it gives you the opportunity to support them and help put their mind at ease if any of their expectations were unrealistic. Starting with this question establishes rapport between you and your client and helps set the tone for a solid and trusting relationship moving forward  

Autonomy Is a Universal Need

Remember to ASK, DON’T TELL.  As personal trainers, people often look at us as the authority when it comes to fitness information, so it’s common for clients to come to their sessions expecting answers.  However, you must remember that people have the need for autonomy as well and they are far more likely to follow plans that they actively set themselves than those imposed on them. 

There is a big difference between asking someone what they intend to do about a problem and telling them how to go about solving it. 

Instead of telling your client to exercise, say three times a week, try asking them, what do you plan to do on days that you don’t come in to see me?  Prompting them to make their own plans will automatically make the plans feel more achievable and appealing.

Self-assessment Is Your Weapon

A self-assessment is a great tool for providing feedback to both the client and the trainer and is proven to improve behaviour, here’s why.

When we pin point a behaviour we need to change, we all have a greater tendency to act on it and make changes to improve.  Asking a client how likely they are to cancel each session on a scale of 1 to 10 makes them reassess their real commitment and challenges them to improve a little bit every single week.

Use the Commitment Strategy

Commitment strategies are devices used in behavioral economics that have been proven to influence and improve behaviour.

You could ask your client to design commitment strategies for themselves or offer the client the option when you start training.  For example, when a client pays for 3 months of training, you can put a portion of what the client paid aside to return in the form free apparel, supplements or a free training session, should they make all their sessions.

Help Clients Identify Saboteurs

Saboteurs are people who intentionally derails and obstructs us from reaching our goals.  They may not always have this intention, but sometimes just subtle comments and questions tend to make us doubt our abilities.

For clients who are just starting their fitness journeys, saboteurs can be very damaging if they are trying to instill healthy eating habits and changed lifestyle.  When family and friends see a shift in your client’s attitude, they often perceive this as ‘threatening’ because they are used to seeing them in a certain way. 

Ask your client to identify people they think would be most likely to get in the way of their success and transformation.  Help your client accept that saboteurs are integral to their transformation, but you can give them a framework on how to effectively deal with them, should they need to.  Make them feel that you can be a major support system in their journey.

One way to help them is to have them invite these saboteurs into a training session or to attend a free seminar.  By doing so, you reinforce to your client that you will support them and you might even gain a new client. 

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