Personal Trainers Need To Know Their Clients!

The average personal training client trains two times a week and is usually ten minutes late... Personal trainers need to know how to motivate and get returning customers. Learn more...

Many personal trainers are often under the misconception that their clients are being lazy because they cannot always make it into the gym. The fact of the matter is that personal training clients aren't lazy at all - the truth is far from it!

They are generally overworked, over-stressed white-collar workers who spend anywhere from 50 to 70 hours a week at work. Many of these people have families, pets, hobbies and interests that lie outside of the gym.

During my career in the fitness industry, I have been fortunate enough to work with East Coast personal training legend, Randy Humola. For those who haven't heard of him, he was largely responsible for the success of the New York Health & Racquet Club, the Bally Total Fitness, and the Crunch Fitness personal training programs.

Randy would always say, "The average personal training client trains two [days] a week and is usually ten minutes late, leaving us only 1.7 days (90 minutes) a week to effect a change in their bodies, that leaves them 166½ hours in the week to reverse all of our hard work."

The majority of personal training clients are healthy but de-conditioned people, meaning they are not sick or infirmed, just out of shape. Most of our client's goals are to lose weight and tone.

This raises the question: as personal trainers, how do we effect change in a healthy but de-conditioned body that can only come to the gym 1.7 times a week? The answer is simple. To effect change in a healthy, de-conditioned person's body in only 90 minutes a week is by implementing a high-energy expenditure workout that encompasses the entire body.

High-Energy Expenditure

Circuit training and interval training are an obvious solution when designing a total body/high energy expenditure workout. When designing a circuit or any workout for any client, the personal trainer must always keep the client's safety and well-being in mind.

From the American Fitness Institute personal training manual:

"Injuries are not an uncommon occurrence during intense physical training. It is, nonetheless, a primary responsibility of all trainers to minimize the risk of injury. Safety is always a major concern, so it is suggested to try out your workouts before giving them to others, especially to gauge the intensity."

Most injuries can be prevented by designing a well-balanced program that does not overstress any body parts, allows enough time for recovery, and includes a warm-up and cool-down. Using strengthening exercises and soft, level surfaces for stretching and running also helps prevent injuries.

If, however, injuries do occur, they should be recognized and properly treated in a timely fashion. If a person suspects that he is injured, he should stop what he is doing, report the injury, and seek medical help.

Many common injuries are caused by overuse, that is, a person often exercises too much and too often and with too rapid an increase in the workload. Most overuse injuries can be treated with Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE). Following any required first aid, health-care personnel should evaluate the injured person.

Remember that our clients are not athletes, they are just regular, healthy, but out-of-shape people. That is exactly what personal trainers need to keep in mind when they create a total body workout for their clients.


Workouts should be basic yet dynamic, meaning the trainer should put together basic exercises in a way that a client never would be able to do on their own. By keeping the workouts basic, it allows the trainer to equally focus on building their relationships with their clients.

Generally, as a client's level of fitness progresses, the exercises progress from basic exercises to more challenging ones. Still, the personal trainer must keep in mind what their client is training for and train them accordingly. Be sure the client has mastered the basic movement safely before progressing to a more advanced movement.

Often, when I walk into a gym, health club, or spa, I will see a personal trainer with a client doing an exercise that would challenge some of our most advanced professional athletes. I have seen a 70-year-old woman on a Bosu ball doing a shaking squat with weights, or a middle-aged man doing walking lunges with dumbbells into sloppy shoulder presses.

As a personal training manager and an instructor for the American Fitness Institute, I realize there is more than one right way to train a client.

As personal trainers, we are not the bio-mechanic police.

There may be a hundred reasons why a trainer may be doing a squat or lunge a specific way with a specific person at any given time. It may be due to a client's physical limitations or a specific goal, but to the person seeing it from the outside it may just look peculiar.


Trainers cannot train every client the same way. By being able to change their style of training to meet the different needs of their clients needs is what makes a personal trainer so valuable. Some personal trainers have more than thirty clients, and they may train each and every client a different way.

A personal training session in a gym, health club, or spa usually lasts one hour and can range in price anywhere on average from $50 to $100, even more for a private personal training session. The point is, for all of the money a client is spending on personal training, they deserve a few basic things in return.

A trainer's job is obviously to create a program for their clients and track their progress, but they also must motivate their clients and make the hour they spend together enjoyable.

Since 90% of an established trainer's business is renewal business, it is important for a client to enjoy the time they spend with their trainer. A client who enjoys their session is likely to renew and continue training. They will also have a much better chance of reaching their goal with the help of their trainer. As they should, clients also expect and deserve results.

So, the next time your client doesn't make it in for their "cardio day", remember they are not all being lazy, and they may need more motivation from you, their personal trainer.