What Clients Can Teach Personal Trainers

Four things I've learnt from clients.

Integrated Fitness & Nutrition has just celebrated one year of operation. Over the last 12 months, I've worked with a range of different clients - each with different goals and demands - and assisted them with the integration of fitness and nutrition into their lifestyle.

As a coach, people often say how much they learn from you. It makes sense really, because that is why they hire you. However, my favourite aspect of my job is what I have learnt from my clients.

Over the past year I've worked with clients from so many different fields, and I occasionally get a bit nervous before working with them. From Doctors (I worried they would know way more than me about nutrition), to business executives (I was worried they would take over my business) and to ex-special forces troops (I was worried they would kill me). They all bring different skill-sets and attributes, and it has been fascinating to see why they engaged me, how they implement my recommendations and the challenges we then work through.

I'll be honest - the past year hasn't made a tonne of money this business isn't a get-rich quick scheme. I've put in a tonne of hours and there have been weeks I would have been better off filling out a dole application. However, the reward has certainly been the exposure to many unique clients and being involved with their lives. Here are my top-4 learnings from the past year.


1. Time is an overrated excuse.

I have probably stated this a few times, but over the past 12 months, not one client has said to me they don’t have time to exercise. Now let’s look at the facts, they wouldn’t hire me if they didn’t have the time, but it is still an interesting insight.

What is interesting is the full spectrum of jobs these people hold. I’ve worked with an executive who starts work at 6am everyday, a doctor and midwives who are on rotating rosters (and plenty of caffeine), busy mums and many more. While these people are all extremely busy, what they also also have in common is their decision to find the time to exercise and then implement an approach.

This also builds on the three stages of self-investment: financial, time and effort. This people are often comfortable putting in the financials and they always bring the effort, it’s just a matter of identifying this time and going ahead with it!

Find time, make time, invent time. Do whatever you need to do and make it happen!


2. Treat people like people.

I try to engage my clients on a personal level and stay up to date with their lives. If you tell me during our fortnightly consultation that you are in Sydney in a month, I’ll remember that (and discuss planning that week) next time we chat. This has nothing to do with fitness and nutrition knowledge, yet it is one of the things people comment about to me the most!

People hire you because of your knowledge and experience, but they re-hire you because of their experience. I didn't realise how many bad experiences people have had in the fitness industry, and some of the stories you hear are ridiculous. It's now apparent to me that you can differentiate yourself just based on treating your clients professionally - that shows where this industry is at!

At the end of the day, if you can create a training environment where clients want to come back, you will have no trouble getting clients to stick to a program and get results.


3. It’s not all about training and nutrition.

One of the big focuses of IFN is to integrate fitness and nutrition into people’s lives, as opposed to trying to change their lives to fit our plans. When you are looking at strategies to implement these every day, it becomes easy to become obsessive about food intake, and optimising everything at your disposal. 

However, doing the opposite is just as important, and actually helps people still achieve their goals. Got a big event coming up and want to have some drinks, that’s fine! We can program around that and even put in strategies to minimise progress impediments. Once people realise that fitness and nutrition can be part of their lives, without need to be all of it, that's when we make real progress. I know this has helped me stress less about my own food intake!


4. Back yourself.

I’ve tried some basic marketing strategies over the past 12 months, but by far the best source of new client has been word-of-mouth, I’ve been told by a couple of experts that if I don’t spend thousands of dollars hiring their online marketing expertise, no one will ever find me.

I mentioned this to a client in September last year, and her response was so simple and logical, that it changed my perspective.

"If you are good at what you do, people will find out, tell others, and do your marketing for you!"

I opted against the marketing pros (well I couldn’t afford it anyway...) and decided to take this advice. Sure, I’ve tried some different things on Facebook, Google and creating content, which probably have all added some value. But at the end of the day, all of my clients have been referred from others, many of whom have completed multiple programs.

If you are thinking about starting a business or are currently getting hounded by someone trying to convince you that they are needed, take a second to think… could you spend that money up-skilling yourself or furthering your knowledge, and will that bring more value to your clients? It’s all well and good to have dozens of new enquiries each day, buy if you can’t deliver the service that people want, none of them will be coming back.


That's about it, for now.

2015-16 is going to be a massive year for Integrated Fitness & Nutrition. The continual growth of the online business, personal training and expanding into a new and extremely exciting venture.

To anyone who has been a client, followed the business, referred a friend, subscribed to the email list, or helped out in any other way – thank you!

On that note, the biggest thank you of all is reserved for my loving girlfriend, Ellie. She gets to put up with my 4:50am starts, my working all the time and even the occasionally brain overload. I’d like to think that my jokes help balance the equation out, but apparently they don’t (her words, not mine). Thanks for you support and I love you a lot! 

See you all soon!