Today we look at some practical ideas to help you design programs so your clients can have fun while working towards their fitness goals. Not all ideas may suit every client, so pick the methods that will aid their individual goals and consider their capabilities too.
Here we go.
1. Focus on the Client's Goals
Walking around some gyms, you may notice that some trainers take all their clients through the same workout.
I agree with Jon from The PTDC, that to make your clients feel that their time with you is taking them closer to their fitness goals, you need to listen to them and design their workouts to THEIR individual needs, wants and capabilities.
The above means that you meet your clients where they are. If they believe they need to do a lot of core work to get a six-pack, you design the big chunk of the session filled with exercises that you know will aid that goal, then use the last 5-10 minutes to give them that core blast they think they need. Over time, as they trust you more, you will be able to educate them, but if you start arguing their wants early on, you may not get the chance to educate them at all.
2. Create a Challenge
Everybody loves a challenge. You often find that even those who believe they are not competitive at all can become super motivated if there's something in for them.
Whether that's competing against another client's time, their own previous result or even against you, giving them a challenge will push them to work harder for the short period of the workout.
You can create a "general" fitness baseline circuit you put them through once a month. It doesn't need to be longer than 5 minutes, and it can be performed either at the start, after warm-up, or at the end of their session before stretching. If the client beats their previous result, you can even offer a prize or a badge.
3. Keep the Workouts Varied
Most general population clients can get easily bored if you keep taking them through the same workout every session. While progression is crucial most clients will stay more motivated if the workouts vary. This doesn't mean go crazy on making changes all the time, simply aim to hit the right balance between progression and variation.
You can also add in activity and training that clients enjoy, then make it effective at pushing them towards their goals. For example most clients with fat loss goals can do boxing, martial arts, swimming, football, sprint drills, kettlebells, SAQ drills, tennis, hockey, rugby etc.. in effective intervals that help them strip fat. Try to find activities or sports your client enjoys, then make it effective as a training tool.
4. Invite a Training Buddy or Become One
Occasionally, you can offer your clients to bring a friend to train together. Experiences show that people who exercise alongside others will be willing to push harder, so they don't let the other person or themselves down.
As mentioned already, a little bit of competitiveness can work well for added motivation. If you are not able to offer that or your client may not have anybody suitable to invite, you could join in yourself. It doesn't have to be for a full session either. You could tie it in with a challenge (see point #2) called "beat your trainer" or as part of playtime for fun (see point #5).
5. Include Playtime in Your Session
If you have ever experienced how throwing away all the serious adulting for a brief period can help you feel alive, you'll understand this concept. Your clients will appreciate it too.
The critical aspect is to find what does it for that person. You can incorporate some cardio while throwing around a medicine ball, for instance, work the chest with chest passes, the core with hip passes or woodchops.
Helping them manage their stress levels in a controlled way can also be much fun. If you have experience and skills, include some pad work or boxing, or grab a slam ball and use it in a variety of slamming movements. Again, these activities will get them out of breath, work their core muscles while they can get rid off some stress and frustration. Winning combination.
Dancing is something many clients fear to admit they like, but it's a great way to work on their aerobic fitness and create joy too. Find what gets their endorphins going and align it with your skills, preferences and include playtime often to keep your clients happy.
6. Change the Scenery
I appreciate this may not be available for every trainer or suit all client needs, but if you can fit in a "field trip" to help them with their goals even better. It will make your clients feel more valued as well as they will rate you high on the "expert" scale as a result.
A few examples:
- A walking session with an elderly client to identify what may be a hazard for falls, identify weaknesses that may not come out in session and teach them methods to prevent accidents.
- A sprint session on an athletic track with a client who wants to improve their 5k time.
- A court game like basketball, squash or even table tennis to keep your client's activities varied.
There you have it, a few ideas to make your PT sessions fun and encourage your clients to find their love for exercise and keep coming back.