What it Takes to Attain Success as a Personal Training Client

Do any Google search and you can find a ton of articles and information on what to look for in a really qualified personal trainer. But isn’t it just important to find out what it takes to be an ideal training client? 

When you think of a "personal trainer," it is pretty common to think that every client’s success depends on the trainer's ability to deliver. And rightly so. In a consumer’s world, they are paying us for a result. As the hired professional, it’s important that we are there to educate, motivate, push and provide all of the tools for success.  

But when you really get down to it, true success falls on one VERY important variable: the client’s ability to execute.  

It’s a very symbiotic relationship. 

Every trainer would LOVE to have a 100% success rate with their clientele. But sadly, that is probably asking the impossible. I have been in this game a long time. As I look back, I am quite proud of the success I have had with the vast majority of my clients. Most have met their goals...and then some! So many have blown way past what they ever expected they could physically achieve. And yet, as abbundant as these success stories are, there are always those that not only waste my time, but their money, and a time slot that could have been utilized by (to put it bluntly) a more deserving individual.













A Very Happy Client Makes for a Very Happy Trainer

Not unlike someone looking to hire a trainer would do, I try to properly qualify everyone before taking them on. But there are going to be times when someone slips through the cracks. No matter how well I vet a prospect, I'm going to get a “Dan Quayle” that somehow sneaks through.

As I look back over my 18 years in this industry, I notice there are some attributes that my most successful clients have in common with each other.  Like-wise, the least successful ones share a lot in common, too. We all know that "Give 100% Effort" would be #1 on any success-oriented attribute list. That's too easy...and it's a given. I'm here to make you think about the often over-looked variables that can make or break you success. Here is that list:

1. The Ideal Client Shows Up On Time for Their Sessions

This is the first one that jumps out at me…probably because I am a stickler for punctuality. But seriously, this is important. There are many things that a client will pay for. They are investing in a coach, they are investing in an education, they are investing in a result, and they are paying for the “time.” Showing up 5 minutes late all the time doesn’t cut it in my world. Not only do I find it a little disrespectful, but it shows a mindset that is just a breeding ground for holding back success. Five minutes late, 3 times a week, across a month’s worth of training is a full hour worth of time we could have utilized in some beneficial way, shape, or form. I am a true believer that if you can be consistently late, then you can make the tweaks to be consistently on time.

My most successful clients are not only here on time, but they often time show up early. I’ll often times find them taking the time to start their warm-up process on their own.  How can you not love that kind of enthusiasm and “go-get-it” attitude?!?!?

2. The Ideal Client Does Their Homework 

When it comes to educating a client on proper nutrition, working out, supplementation, and overall health, there is a lot to cover. And there is only so much time I can devote face-to-face in educating them. Being that I maximize my time with my clients pushing them physically past limits that they wouldn’t approach on their own, I utilize the written word as the great tool in fully getting into all of the other nitty-gritty. Newsletters, personal emails, an online magazine, Facebook Fan Page…I put a lot out there for my clients to absorb. And I do make sure I feed them bits at a time in a very systematic way so as it not to be so overwhelming. I’m not looking to make them feel like they are reading War and Peace

The ones who get the results absorb a great deal of it. Those that really catapult into a realm of success that I can’t explain seem to read, absorb, and execute faster than I can put it out. 

3. An Ideal Client Asks Questions 

This is how I know someone is involved. This is also how I know if they are executing the above…reading! Think about it…how could you not have questions? I'm a professional and I have questions! I see the client who never EVER asks a question as one who may not be fully trying. Just about every session I ask my clients how they have been making out (nutritionally as well as with their workouts) since I last saw them.  But I shouldn’t always be the inquisitive one. 

4. An Ideal Client Works Out On Their Own

Although I offer packages that allow people to train with me anywhere from one to four times a week, the most common package invested in is one where I see an individual twice a week. By itself, it's hardly enough to put a substantial dent into one’s health, body, and fitness. I make it very clear to anyone who takes on the twice-a-week series that for them to reach their goals, it’s up to them to execute some on their own. We could be talking about getting one or two resistance training sessions a week PLUS, depending on their goals, up to three cardio sessions a week in on their own. 

And I'll know if they are executing. 

For one, they have to document it in their journal/workout sheets so I can see it. Two, I’ll generally see them within my facility sweating away on their own. And if I don’t see them, someone will let me know. 

Not only does missing the workouts present the obvious problem of not providing the proper stimuli to produce a result, but it shows me something much greater that will hold that success back. If they don’t have the dedication to get in on their own and put in less than an hour of work, then they probably don’t have the discipline on the nutrition side, either. Lack of dedication to the workouts AND nutrition will just have them spinning their wheels. Consistency in both are key!

5. An Ideal Client Hardly Ever Cancels 

I understand there are things in life that come up that make it impossible to get in here for a session. But I don’t care who you are…these “things” should be few and far between. Each and every President has found time to get a workout in. Who’s busier than them? 

Seriously, if a client is canceling with me, then I might as well reread the above #4 section, too, because they aren’t going to be executing on their own. 

Think about it. Among the many things I stated earlier, one of the things that people invest in when signing up with a personal trainer is accountability. Where’s the accountability in canceling? All trainers and health clubs have policies in place to protect us from cancellations. But chronic cancellations should never be tolerated. As I tell my clients – You can’t get results if you cancel! When I look back at my most successful clients, the cancellations are few and far between….almost non-existent. They always make time to workout. Again…being consistent is key!

6. An Ideal Client Doesn’t Moan and Groan

Let me qualify this so there isn't any confusion: There are clients that just complain about everything. There are clients that frown at every movement I give them. There are clients that are never comfortable...It’s either too hot or too cold in the gym...They’re tired....They act like they hate working out...etc. I'm talking about “Debbie Downer” client. I haven’t had many, but I have had enough for them to make this list. 

It’s ok to dread doing a set of Bulgarian Split Squats. I understand that kind of occasional huff and puff. But acting as if every single session is complete torture and not showing any sign of enjoying the process? Either I’m not doing my job, they need to find another trainer to work with, or they need to find another endeavor to take part in.  

I have to tell you, it’s hard to be in a down mood around me. I’m pretty high energy and charismatic (insert sarcastic smile here). But I’ll be the first to admit that I am very capable of feeding off of someone’s energy. I definitely recognize that my personal game is always a bit higher than those I’m around.  The vast majority that comes in gung-ho get the absolute best of me.  If I start to feel the opposite is happening…where Debbie Downer starts to have a negative effect on my mood and energy…it’s time to cut the cord.

Optional #7. The Ideal Client Says “Thank You” 

This wasn’t even going to make the list. Honestly, I don’t ever expect a “thank you” from my clients. Quite the contrary…it is I who really should ALWAYS say thank you. After all, they are entrusting me with their health and fitness. They are giving me their time and their business. They are investing in the service I provide. 
For all of that I am very thankful and make sure they know it in varying ways (verbal, thank you cards, emails, etc). 

But as I sit here typing and going over all of the common attributes that my most successful clients share,  one thing dawned on me…After every single session we had together they all said “thank you, Jim.” 

Why? 

They appreciate why they are here. They appreciate what I do with them. They appreciate the opportunity to work together. They are thankful for the results I bring. 

So I decided it needs to be on the list because this is all inter-connected. All of it is a mindset. And that mindset is one that breeds hard work and success…and a completely enjoyable and rewarding experience for both the trainer and the client.

Conclusion

This article was more of a rant on my part. What you just read had no rough draft. It was just me sitting and typing while reflecting on 18 plus years of my own personal experiences. 

I used to take the success of everyone who ever walked through my door very personally. Actually, I still do. But years of experience have shown me a couple things:  

1) I don’t deserve an excessive pat on the back when someone achieves superior results. I just provide the tools and the path. They do the hard part….they consistently execute with laser-focused dedication. 
and...
2) The same is true on the opposite end of the spectrum. As much as I hold myself accountable for someone’s lack of results, when I peel back the onion there is always something else to their slow progress.  And it usually lies within one of the above attributes.



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James Cipriani
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