THE DEFINITION OF CLIENT FOR PERSONAL TRAINERS: A New Way to Look At The Trainer/Client Relationship …

Posted on 20. Jan, 2009 by in Personal Trainer Marketing, Personal Trainer Sales Systems

I know for the most part you don’t have to spend much time thinking about what a client is – they’re the person that pays you, simple as that, right?

We’re always talking about how to get more clients, how to charge more, or how to keep them happy. Nothing wrong with that – this a blog for trainers after all …

But have you ever though about what “client” means? There was a neat definition to the word I saw a while back that really blew me away. I always try to keep it in mind. It gives you a very clear idea of what your real responsibilities are as a trainer, and what’s expected out of you as part of this profession.

This definition was put forward by the marketing guru Jay Abraham in his book Get Everything You Can Out of All You Got. Here’s how he defined a client:

Someone under your protection.

Pretty deep huh? Did you ever think about it that way?

I thought Jay’s definition was right on point. When someone comes to a consultant and pays them to handle something, what they’re really seeking out is protection.

This not more true in any other field than Personal Training. The client is looking to you for inspiration – for leadership – to guide them toward their goals. They’re entrusting you with a major part of their lives – their health, appearance, self-esteem, and well being. When you think about it like that, it’s a very big responsibility – it’s one you can’t take lightly.

They are depending on you to take care of them and steer them the right way. There are people everywhere in the world today trying to take advantage of them – it’s your job to shield them from this and give them guidance.

What this says is you can’t think about your clients just in terms of the dollar figure they represent, or what you can get out of them. It makes you think more about the importance and value of what you’re expected to provide.

In my case I always look past the training session to see my true responsibility as a trainer. I think about the new self-image this client will adopt. The increased energy they’ll feel through every minute of their day. The new habit they will master and now incorporate into their life because of me. The huge importance appearance plays in our society. The new way people will treat them. And the self worth they’ll feel after spending time, money, and effort on themselves for a change.

I didn’t always view my job like this, but when you see it happen to enough people you realize how much is riding on you, and it can be a little scary.

If you view your job with this much importance, you’ll realize you’re worth every penny you charge. And you’ll never have have a hard time justifying your rates in your own or your clients’ mind either.

It’s a very powerful self-image to adopt, that of a protector, not just a trainer – I’d highly recommend it!


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John Izzo

20. Jan, 2009

Great post K! Most people stick with their trainer or gym EVEN after they have reached their goals, because of the impact made and the changes in their lives that they have experienced! We have a profound effect on people (and I will go so far as to say) that trainers…good trainers…know how to “connect” with people more so than strength coaches, doctors, or some psychiatrists!

Sarah Rippel

20. Jan, 2009

Great post, Kaiser! This is yet another example of what sets great trainers apart from the masses. Not only must you serve as a role model for your clients, but you must also EDUCATE them. In this day and age, things are always changing, and as professionals we must stay up-to-date and be able to serve as a RESOURCE to our clients. I have always had an “open door” policy and my clients know they can call/text/email me whenever they want if they have a question. I am a big believer in having my clients understand WHY we’re doing an exercise. I like for them to understand the basic concepts, for I believe it not only empowers them, but it makes me a more credible professional. I don’t want my clients to be dependent on me 24/7 – I want them to learn and feel comfortable going through workouts on their own. It’s crazy because in initial meetings with new clients time and time again, people have seemed surprised and excited that they would actually be LEARNING something…kinda like “she’s not like that doofus trainer I had two years ago who just led me through my workouts every time.” Crazy huh?! A spider monkey could take a person through a workout…that’s a piece of cake…lol. EDUCATION + KNOW-HOW + ENERGY = EMPOWERMENT = SUCCESS! By empowering our clients, we further empower ourselves as fitness professionals!

Doug Groce

20. Jan, 2009

Yeah Kaiser – Interesting about the role of protector. You mentioned that role OUTSIDE of the training session, but I can even see that DURING a training session with one particular client.

It may not have been what you were getting at in the post, but I have a certain client that can only train during the busiest hours of our gym – when all the big hs/college athletes, and powerlifters show up to lift. In a way, I kind of PROTECT her from the intimidating atmosphere, and this may be part of the reason she keeps coming back.

At first you may think of this as silly, b/c it really requires no technical knowledge to be assertive and make sure to reserve your workout station so no one else jumps in – but then again, this ads value to the session, so I have no problem admitting that this may be one of the factors at play.

Interesting post – I think the protector role can definitely go outside of the training session, like you said as well. Like guiding clients’ philosophies, and making sure they don’t get ripped off. And everything else you mentioned. Good stuff!

Lee Smith

20. Jan, 2009

That was a great post Kaiser! I mean you really hit the nail on the head. When you think abou it. all clients are not only under our protection to keep them in our business, but to also help them avoid the pitfalls of unsafe fitness practices that if they perform them, will have them taking two steps forward and four steps back. I think about how protective a tigress is of her cubs, and it adds a whole new dimension to taking care of personal training clients. Thank you so much for that post Kaiser!

Sarah Rippel

20. Jan, 2009

PS – Just wanted to add that the Wonder Woman pic cracks me up…I trained Lynda Carter when she was here in Baton Rouge filming Dukes of Hazzard…crazy! She’s like 6 feet tall!

Chris McCombs

20. Jan, 2009

Hey Kaiser, just sent you an email bud.. I think sometimes my emails bounce out of your box or something… if you didn’t get it let me know

Trying to get your 3 biggest marketing tips to include in a collaborative post I’m doing… it’ll get ya some good link juice and probably more blog readers

Just need a few sentences on each tip

James Dixon

20. Jan, 2009

Great post! I always have thought of my clients as more than just money.


21. Jan, 2009

Excellent post, Kaiser. This is a very good way to look at the client/trainer relationship, they are absolutely under our protection. As trainers, we all know how that hiring a personal trainer is a HUGE step in someone’s life. You constantly meet people that say “I need to start working out” but for them to actually make that step is a HUGE step. So when they finally make that life-changing decision to work with a trainer, there is no question they are under our protection. And there is nothing more rewarding than checking in with a former client and hearing the feedback of how positive their lives have changed.


21. Jan, 2009

Glad to see all the interest and passion in this post – most of the responses where almost as long as the original! Yeah, we’re always focusing on ourselves on the blog, but I’m happy everyone understands where the focus is – on the clients. Putting that first cures many ills –

Atlanta Personal Trainer

21. Jan, 2009

Great point you make about looking past the training session.

That is not something I ever thought about in that way. Again I think you are right when you mention how it sinks in after you see it happen a few times.

I am both a strength coach and a personal trainer so I can say that I have seen it happen with college kids. As a strength coach I am in a position of power and think it is important to do the right thing with these young adults.

Great post, it does give you something to think about.

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