Personal Trainer-Client Relationships: How to Build Rapport 

Life is all about building great relationships. And so is personal training. 

Fitness journeys are filled with many ups and downs. As a personal trainer, part of your job is to be there to help your clients through both. Doing that is much easier when you have a strong personal trainer-client relationship. 

In this article, we’ll explain why it’s so important to build rapport with your personal training clients. We’ll also give you our best tips for how to build relationships with clients that last. 

The Importance of Building Great Personal Trainer & Client Relationships 

The consequences of having a poor relationship with a client are pretty obvious. At the very least, that client will probably start thinking about looking elsewhere for training. Even worse, they may share their negative experience with you on social media and review sites, costing you clients you don’t even have yet. 

But putting time and effort into building positive personal trainer-client relationships isn’t just about avoiding negative consequences.  

In fact, in many ways, your training business hinges on the quality of those relationships. Why? Because good personal trainer-client relationships facilitate everything you need for your business to succeed long-term

Increase Client Retention 

Their connection with you is what keeps most of your clients coming back.  

As you build rapport with your clients, they develop trust in you. They start to believe that you are the best person to help them reach their goals. 

Attract New Clients 

In the UK, there are about 57,000 fitness instructors. In the U.S., there are about 340,000. That gives your clients many options to choose from. And many of those trainers will share virtually the same certifications and qualifications.  

So, when a client chooses personal training services, they’re really choosing based on the trainer, not the training. They want someone they feel connected with and who cares about them as a person with goals, not just a potential paycheck. 

Improve Client Results 

Having a good rapport and relationship with a client makes them much more likely to listen to you. And isn’t getting clients to actually follow your program half the battle? 

When your clients trust you, they’ll trust your advice. It’ll also be easier for you to motivate them when you know them on a more personal level. 

Get More Referrals 

When clients like you as a trainer and a person, they’re more likely to rave about you to their friends and family. The result? More referrals coming your way. 

Considering that referred customers have a 37% higher retention rate and 25% higher lifetime value than other customers, earning referrals can make a significant impact on your PT business. 

How to Build Rapport with Clients in Personal Training 

Clearly, building a relationship with your personal training clients is crucial to your success. But don’t let that psych you out.  

Just be yourself and approach your clients like you would a friend, but with an added level of professionalism.  

Here are a few more tips for establishing a positive personal trainer-client relationship: 

Start with a smile. 

It may sound simple but greeting your clients with a smile can have a bigger impact than you think. 

In fact, 68% of Americans said in a survey that people who smile are more trustworthy, confident, and approachable—three qualities you definitely want to convey to your clients. 76% of survey respondents also said that a smile is the number one physical trait to make a first impression. 

So, by starting off every session with a smile, you can set the right tone, create a positive atmosphere, and make your client feel more comfortable. Plus, smiling is contagious, so your client will be smiling soon too. 

Ask deeper questions. 

Asking questions is a great way to show someone you’re interested in them.  

When it comes to your clients, you don’t want to get too deep and start asking about their parents’ divorce. But you do want to go beyond what you ask on your client questionnaire to dig a little deeper. 

For instance, don’t just ask a client what their fitness goals are, but why they’ve chosen those goals. It’s okay to get a little personal and ask about work, hobbies, and how their day was too. This can help you find common interests, discover their motivators, and let them know you care about them as a person. 

Make training fun. 

Personal training is serious work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. Bringing a good (and professional) sense of humor to every session will make a big difference in your client’s experience (and yours)!  

There are many benefits to laughter that can make your PT sessions more enjoyable. Laughter releases endorphins, gets more oxygen into your body, and helps people feel at ease. How perfect is that for lightening up an intense training session? 

More importantly, laughter is a form of primitive bonding that brings people together. By having fun and laughing together, your clients will feel closer to you. 

Be a human, not just a trainer. 

Again, you don’t want to get so personal with clients that it becomes unprofessional. However, showing some vulnerability can help you build a strong rapport. 

Sharing parts of your own fitness journey and day-to-day struggles will make it easier for clients to relate to you. They may assume you track every calorie and workout twice a day. When you let them know that you sometimes indulge in your chocolate addiction and skip a workout to binge-watch Netflix, you let them know that you’re human, just like them. 

It’s important to acknowledge with your clients that fitness journeys are hard. Plus, when you share your struggles with them, they’ll feel more comfortable sharing with you. 

Keep the conversation going in between sessions. 

Think of keeping in touch with your clients in between sessions as going the extra mile to build a relationship. Checking in on them even when you’re “off-the-clock” shows you’re invested in their progress. 

You don’t have to text them an essay, just a quick reminder about a session, progress check-in, or even a motivational quote. Ask them what form of communication they prefer (text, call, email), and do your check-ins that way. 

One thing to keep in mind though is that you still want to respect your clients’ space, time, and privacy. After all, boundaries are part of any healthy relationship. You only need to send one or two messages between sessions. And be sure to send them at a reasonable hour—no one wants to get a text from their trainer at 2am. 

Tools that Help Personal Trainers with Client Relationship Management 

Building and maintaining personal trainer-client relationships can seem like a lot of work, especially when your client list is long. Fortunately, there are tools available that make building rapport much faster and easier for trainers. 

The best tool to help personal trainers build and maintain client relationships is good personal trainer management software. Good software will help you organize all your clients’ information, contact them easily, and keep up with their progress from anywhere. 

Different personal training software will have different features to help you with client relationship management. For example, here are some of the ones that My PT Hub offers: 

  • Chat. Our in-app chat tool offers a professional but convenient way to keep in touch with clients. You can send instant, direct messages back and forth, including images and videos. 
  • Mobile App. You and your clients can download the My PT Hub app to stay connected. Use it to message clients, send them workouts, check in on their progress, and more. You can even brand our app interface with your own business logo and theme. 
  • Habit Tracker. A good way to connect with your clients is to focus not just on their fitness goals, but also on habits that affect their overall wellness. Our Habit Tracker lets clients track wellness habits, like drinking water or daily step counts. You can see their progress and celebrate their achievements with them. 
  • Workouts. The My PT Hub workout builder is all about customization. Show your clients that you know them and listen to them by creating custom workouts with their goals in mind. 
  • Forms. The more you know about your clients, the better relationships you can build. Use our forms feature to create custom onboarding and feedback forms that help you learn exactly what makes your clients tick and connect with them on a deeper level. 

Start Building Personal Trainer-Client Relationships that Last 

With all these tips for building rapport in your arsenal, you’ll have no problem connecting with your personal training clients. And when you can connect with your clients, you can put your personal training business on the path to success. 

If you want to make that path quicker and easier to travel, check out all the client management tools that we offer here at My PT Hub. Or, better yet, try them out for yourself with a free 30-day trial starting today! 

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