Finding the right match between trainers and clients

Matching clients and Personal Trainers, is like a dating service, or at the very least match making. Personalities need to compliment each other. The role of the trainer in the broad sense is to help their client be successful in reaching their goals. Having a clear understanding of a clients goals and objectives, makes the “matching” task more efficient (see the client profile - attachment).

Following up on the information derived from a completed client profile questionnaire, involves a simple interview and fact-finding session with the client.

The key to successful fact-finding is to listen more than you speak and be brief but thorough. In other words, “there is no time for “waffling around” during the initial session with a client. The client profile forms and obligatory Par-Q questionnaires and other screening and policy forms must be completed in a timely manner.

Goals: A client might not have really identified their own objectives and so, it is the trainer’s job to help glean from them information, that will more clearly define at least general objectives and better still specific goals (S.M.A.R.T.). * The trainer must be able to determine what “stage” the potential client is at; Are they “just thinking about it…or are they really ready to get started. Putting everything down on paper and providing copies for both the trainer and the client, helps to reaffirm expectations and provides some accountability.

1.Creating a Goal Sheet: Susan Schlosberg and Liz Neporent M.A., included a terrific “ Goal Sheet” in their consumer focused book, Fitness for Dummies. 2. An excellent step-by-step procedure for goal setting is outlined by Susan Bartlett Ph.D. in the A.C.E. LWMC Mauual (see the Lifestyle Goal Worksheet)

Individuals are unique, whether they have special needs, are older or younger, male or female, serious athletes or have just basic fitness interests. By paying special attention to the responses that clients provide during the “Client Profile - interview” the trainer or supervisor can identify the elements that form an ideal match.

Helping someone to make the move from “Thinking” to “Starting” is an important role the trainer must play, without leaving the client with a feeling that they have “just been sold” something they were not ready for. The key is to help them to “Choose” to start training (“now and with you – if the match is right”). When all is said and done, starting a client-trainer relation with an ill-fitting match is a relationship likely doomed to failure. Sometimes, referring someone to an associate, who is a better match, is the best course of action. Everyone concerned will clearly see that you have a true “service” mentality, and that alone, will bring clients your way.

Communication: The more attentively a Trainer listens and how clearly they communicate their expectations (regarding training philosophies, policies, procedures and expectations he or she has of the “Client-Trainer” relationship), the greater the level understanding will be between them. Starting a “Client-Trainer” relationship isn’t only about “booking” a “session”; it is more profoundly about “starting a new relationship”.

Tools: Providing the opportunity for clients to select or “pick and choose” their own trainer(s), sounds like the most obvious matching process. In order for clients to make informed decisions, they require adequate information about the different trainers available to train them. Posting a profile on the internet, in house posters (photo and Bio), Business cards, meet and greet the trainer opportunities and intro to Personal Training clinic’s, are just some of the tools trainers and their supervisors can use to network with potential Personal Training clients. Referrals remain the strongest method of attracting new clients and when circumstances are favorable, it doesn’t hurt to ask present clients if they are aware if a family member, friend, or associate might be inclined to learn more about “your” Personal Training services. Chances are good that a present client (who is a good match with you), will intuitively have an idea of what type of “personality” would be an ideal client match with you.

Individual Personal Trainers are “on their own” and so they must act as both trainer and publicity agent. The Personal Training staff team in a fitness club or Trainer’s studio must also be supplied with the right tools to help them in their own “in-house” promotional efforts. Having the right tools can make a significant difference.

Personal style, special interest areas and personal schedule are all key factors to the matching of Trainers and their clients. After an initial meeting, both the Trainer and client have the opportunity to “size each other up”. First impressions are critical. Look professional, be prepared, be on time and be ready to communicate. Many Trainers are superb technicians, however they lack superior communication skills (there is help available). Communications training doesn’t need to be a costly endeavor. Studying books, on-line resources, role-playing with others and brief seminars are all ways to improve your understanding of better communication skills.

Review the following checklist:

1) Personal business / appointment cards.
2) Client profile sheet (needs, goals, availability).
3) Photograph and biography on display
4) “Meet the trainer ” opportunities.
5) Client “tip-sheets” written by the trainers.
6) A system for clients to “refer” their friends and acquaintances
7) Programs that feature specialty areas for trainers with those specific skills (posture assessment, nutritional counseling…)
8) Promotional events that correspond with seasonal themes etc.
9) Special Personal Training “clinics”.
10) Goal setting exercises to evaluate the how the trainer would be able to meet the client’s needs.

The “matching up” of clients and trainers remains as one of the greatest challenges faced by clients, clubs (studio’s) and independent trainers.

*(S.M.A.R.T.) Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, Time frame.

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