Motivation is the fuel necessary to keep the human engine running.”

– Zig Ziglar

In this Vagaro 6-minute read, you’ll learn about:

Motivation. It’s the key ingredient personal trainers need to assist clients in achieving their fitness goals, and it’s also the most elusive, fickle part of the fitness equation. Motivation is what transforms a new client signing up in January to a determined client achieving their goals the next December. The best personal trainers continuously add different client motivation techniques and methods of communication to their toolbox, to prepare for any situation.


1. Work with Clients to Set Both Long-Term & Short-Term Goals

While it’s great for clients to have long-term goals like losing 50 pounds, finishing an Ironman triathlon, gaining 20 pounds of muscle, or running a marathon, long-term goals are just that: long-term. To keep your clients motivated, have them set a series of short-term, attainable goals. Each short-term goal they’re able to achieve will build confidence, make their long-term goals feel achievable, and most importantly—maintain their motivation.

Pro Tip

Some short-term goals might include losing 10% of their body weight, finishing a sprint triathlon, adding extra reps or more weight to their strength training routines, or running a 5K.


2. Make Workouts Fun

If your client is having fun, it makes their fitness training less like a task they “have” to do and more like a gratifying activity that they want to do. Work toward keeping your workout plans interesting and varied, as well as challenging. If clients have a miserable time training with you, it’ll be difficult—if not impossible—to keep them motivated. Likewise, if they can predict your training regimen, boredom will erode their motivation.

Pro Tip

Try gamifying some of your training routines, switch up the location (outdoor training, anyone?), set your workouts to music to keep their blood pumping, or add unconventional exercises like axe-throwing, a Star Wars themed agility workout, a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) workout, mermaid fitness, rock climbing, or using a weighted hula hoop to build core strength. 


3. Try a Group Training Session

While on one hand, clients are paying you for your undivided attention—on the other hand, studies show that working out in a group boosts motivation and causes people to perform better and stay with their fitness regimens, even when it gets difficult. Additional studies support this idea, indicating that when exercising in a group setting, people keep pace with the exercise behaviors of those around them. These studies also show that those who participate in group fitness activities have a higher degree of commitment to their fitness routines. Essentially, a sense of collective purpose helps clients stay accountable, not only to themselves and to you, but to each other.

Pro Tip

Check with your clients before organizing a group session. Then, depending on how many clients are interested in giving group training a try, organize a monthly session where you’re working with 3-5 people at a time. This allows you to still devote valuable one-on-one time to each client, with all the benefits that come with group training. If you make your group sessions a regular event, it’ll give clients something to look forward to and motivate them to work harder than ever for their monthly group check-in!


4. Incentivize Fitness Training with Rewards

You’ve heard of positive reinforcement—the idea that a small reward that follows a certain behavior increases the likelihood that the behavior will happen again. In other words, intermittently rewarding your clients increases the probability of them sticking to their fitness routine not just now, but in the future. Keep in mind, it’s key to use rewards that continue to encourage healthy behaviors.

Pro Tip

Examples of rewards to incentive your personal training clients and boost their motivation might include gift cards to your gym store, a water bottle, free entry to a group fitness class like Zumba or spinning, workout gear, coupons to the smoothie bar, priority scheduling with you, or free training sessions.


5. Use Positive Communication to Build Trust—and Increase Motivation

Friendliness, patience, and understanding are the cornerstones to positive communication between you and your clients. Positivity and communication don’t equate to easy workouts together. In fact, it can mean the complete opposite! The National Personal Training Institute recommends adding praise and positivity to your training sessions, which can motivate your clients to work even harder.  Keep in mind that many clients come to personal trainers with an “I can’t do it” attitude. As their fitness professional, it’s part of your job to let them know during every session that you believe they can!

Pro Tip

Positivity isn’t just about what you say to your clients, it’s also about how you say it. Smile when you speak to them, especially about their short and long-term goals. Check in frequently to reassess their goals, which may change over time. Make eye contact and use active listening to let them know you’ve heard and understood what they’re communicating to you.

Vagaro logo Don’t forget, as a personal trainer, you need motivation, too! Use Vagaro’s automated personal training scheduling software for all your business needs. Get your valuable time back with built-in marketing tools and integrated payment processing. Instead of manually scheduling and filling out paperwork, you’ll have more time to focus on your clients and their needs. Try Vagaro free for 30 days and see how much more you can achieve for your clients without admin work slowing you down. Talk about motivation!

Header Image: Giorgio Trovato via Vagaro

Icons: Mia Montemayor via Vagaro