Trainers..what would your clients say about you?

getting ready  I’ve often wondered–what makes a client break-up with their personal trainer?  You may be asking–why is she using the term “break-up?”  Well, it is a relationship–a close one at that.  No, it shouldn’t cross the boundaries of professionalism.  When it does, you as the trainer, can no longer serve your client rationally or without bias.  Yet the question still lingers.  What makes you and your client part ways?

I realize it may be a number of reasons; and believe it or not, cost usually isn’t at the heart of it.  Well then, what is?

The number one reason why clients dismiss their trainers?  They didn’t get what they wanted.  Equally at the forefront, was their trainer appeared distracted or was late.


Very few know better than I, what unrealistic expectations clients present.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  Question is this–do you ask your clients what they want to look like?  Do they want the body of a ballerina, or the muscles of Jillian Michaels? Better still, do you ask them for a picture of what they absolutely do not want to look like, after their time with you?

Clarifying expectations before you start training, can save you both a lot of disappointment and frustration.  If you are basically a running coach, and your client wants to run a marathon, jackpot!  However if they want to become a competitive weight lifter, you may or may not be an optimal choice.  Yes, you can still work with that person.  However, your 1st obligation is to giving the client what they want; whether or not you are part of the equation.  It could mean you find someone to help them meet their goals.  In turn, that reference may provide clients more suitable to your training format.  It’s business; and more importantly, being of service to those who need guidance.  Today that may not mean you; tomorrow it might.


The trainers I have witnessed, I would never hire.  At one gym, one too many were texting, while walking behind clients doing squats with VERY HEAVY weights in their hands.  Better yet, the trainer was doing his workout, while clients across the aisle on mats were doing endless crunches.  And, in a position that was sure to leave them reminiscing about whiplash.  Why would I pay for that?  Why should anyone?


Being on time is pretty basic to any job–one you’d like to keep anyway.  Everyone has unforseen circumstances.   Traffic alone can be one of these; especially in and around Chicago.  Stuck in traffic? Flat tire? Baby relieved him/herself on you?  Take a picture of it.  Forward it to your client.  Or go the good old-fashioned route–CALL THEM.


Laying that foundation is tantamount.  It should come in the form of a contract between you and your client–setting forth expectations of each.  Early in the relationship (yes, I said relationship), you both need to outline and clearly define objectives.  What negates the contract, as well as what will keep you working with them should be discussed.  If both agree, you’re in business.  If not, part company NOW.  Be thankful you know beforehand, that this will not work.

In conclusion, a personal trainer should really be doing more of the listening than the talking.  He/she should be discerning if this is a suitable client before any teaching/training begins.  Yes, we all have to make a living; and a livable wage.  That can only come however, if you know who you can help, as well as who you can’t.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at


  1. When you ask someone to make something for you, you tell them what the finished product will look like. When you see a trainer, you should tell them what you expect to achieve for your body. If they don’t agree, then it’s time to move on.

    1. Another great point! Compatibility is key. We all have expectations in any friendship/relationship. Why should choosing someone to help you reshape your body (and your life in many instances) mean any less?

  2. Love your thoughts on this topic! I agree that if I’m not getting what I want from a trainer I would end the relationship. But while the trainer is to be asking (and listening) for a response of what that looks like- the client also has to have some clarity around what that ‘looks’ like. And that can change. That’s where the relationship needs to come in. Asking, listening, and growing as the wants/needs of the client evolve. Great post, thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. You are right. As the client evolves, his/her desires can change. If you are starting from a point of needing to lose 40lbs or more, you may have one set of goals. After a 25 to 30lb loss, now those goals may differ. Constant communication and re-evaluation is key, whether the loss is that dramatic or not. Thanks for stopping by!

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