Some would argue that getting into shape and living a fitter and healthier lifestyle should be motivation enough, however, we’re all human and sometimes it’s difficult to be upbeat all the time.

Everyone has a day where they don’t want to get up and train or struggle to give 100% to a session.  As a personal trainer you’ve probably heard every excuse under the sun and you’ve most probably spent time with clients who don’t feel like training.  Below we’ve come up with some strategies for you when working with a client who’s a bit down and struggling to motivate themselves.

Identify the problem

Everyone is different and will have personal triggers that set off a decline in motivation. Have a chat and find out what the problem might be; are they tired, is the session too early in the day or too late at night, are they eating enough, getting enough sleep, have issues at work or home?  A little light investigation could give you some great insight into their situation.

The better you know your client, the easier it is to recognise when something’s wrong.

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Set short term goals.

Most clients will come to you with a long list of things they’d like to achieve through training. Much of this could take a long time and a lot of hard work, which could be a demotivating factor for some clients. Instead of focusing on a big, long term goal, you can set a series of smaller, more attainable goals that are easier for a client to see progress in.

Utilise SMART to make goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

If a client wants to “get strong”, break down what strong means to them. Is it increase the weight they bench press, complete more unassisted pull ups, squat their bodyweight, all of the above? By making SMART goals, “get strong” becomes “squat my bodyweight for 10 reps and complete 10 unassisted pull ups within the next four months”. This is a specific target to work towards.

Make workouts fun.

If a client doesn’t enjoy training, then they’re not likely to be motivated to train.  You want to work your client hard, but does it have to be dull, repetitive and entirely miserable?  Mix up sessions, keep workouts varied, throw in some fun challenges and play with the space.

If you find ways to keep it fun, your clients will keep coming back for more.

Keep records.

At first, all the hard work a client puts in might not be physically noticeable, and this can lead to a decline in motivation. This is where good records can be helpful. Rather than letting a client focus on how they look, motivate them with data. Show clients their % increases in lifts, their improved sprint times, improved rep numbers across movements. Numbers don’t lie and can really help to keep clients motivated.

You’ve had a crap day.

A rubbish sleep, argument with your partner, or just don’t feel up for it. It’s fine to have a bad day, just don’t let it show. Remember, there’s nothing worse than having to work with a PT who just isn’t in the mood. Fake it if you must, but remain upbeat.  Clients pay for your undivided attention. If you can’t or won’t provide that, then why should they pay you?

It’s tough juggling multiple clients and their individual programmes, let alone their personal issues and worries; however, drops in motivation should be something you can confidently take on and manage. With a few tweaks to a session, open lines of communication, positive energy and defined goals, you’re much better equipped to be able to keep clients upbeat, happy and excited about training.

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