5 Ways to Keep Your Clients (Or Yourself!) Motivated

Client Motivation

When it comes to coaching and training, I’m definitely not a “Rah-Rah,” in your face kind of guy.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not my job, on some level, to keep my clients motivated.

Below are five easy tips you can use to keep your clients, or yourself, motivated towards achieving their goals in the gym or life in general.

1 – Set Short and Long Term Goals

Goal setting should really be the first step towards any goal.  I’m sure I’ve discussed this numerous times before, but it stands repeating here that goals should be SMART:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Realistic

T – Timely

Rather than saying, “I want to lose a little weight,” a SMART goal might look something like this:

“I’m going to lose 30 pounds of scale weight by the December 31st, 2010.”

Where I find people often lose sight of this is when they only set a longer-term goal such as the one below, with no intermediate goals or steps to keep them motivated.  Breaking that big goal down into smaller goals, or simply ticking items off a daily checklist can help keep the motivation going over the long haul.

One final note: Write your goals down! And perhaps most importantly, put it in a place where you’ll see them daily.

I used to keep my powerlifting goals on the inside of my vanity mirror in the bathroom (they’re now located inside my training log).  The bottom line is if you are serious about achieving your goals, you need to see them all the time and constantly be reminded of where you’re going.

2 – Remind Them of Where They Started

Sometimes along the path to a really big goal, your clients (or you) lose sight of where they started.  Sure, maybe they’ve lost 20 pounds – but what if they have 80 or more to go?

If your goal is to develop a 600-pound squat, but you’re only at 400 right now, you’ll never make it there, right?

But what if you started at 250 or 300 last year?

Hopefully you see where I’m going with this.  Sometimes we (or our clients) need to be reminded about where we started, and how far we’ve already come.  Even the smallest pieces of motivation along the way can keep us moving in the right direction.

If they’ve already lost 20 pounds, remind them of that.  Maybe show them their “Before” picture compared to a current one.

If they’ve put pounds on their lifts, remind them of their starting point, and how they’re already that much closer to that long-term goal.

Even a subtle reminder of their progress can re-kindle the flame and get the motivation burning again.

3 – Surround Them with Other Great People

IFAST has it.

Cressey Performance has it.

Results Fitness has it.

Every great gym has a great environment.  The environments may be totally different, but at every successful gym other great people surround you.

There’s a culture of success – everyone is motivated and wants to improve themselves and those around them.

In that same vein, there’s nothing wrong with cutting dead weight loose. I don’t like seeing people leave my gym, but unfortunately (and this might sound harsh), some people aren’t worth the money they pay on a monthly basis.

This doesn’t mean giving up on somebody when they have a bad week or bad workout.  Quite the contrary, this is when many people need you the most!

What I am saying is that certain people have no desire to really achieve their goals.  They are ok with being miserable, out-of-shape, and have no qualms with bringing you and everyone else around them down. I’ve always known these people as Energy Vampires.

If you have negative people in your gym that are draining you of your energy, or holding back other clients from getting their best results, cut them loose.

At some point in time, you’ll thank me. 🙂

4 – Bring YOUR Best Everyday

A key component of client motivation is bringing your best every day, even when you’re feeling less than 100%.

We aren’t cyborgs.  As trainers and coaches, there are going to be days when we are sick, having family or relationship problems, injured, hurting, or just not feeling all that great.

Bill Hartman uses the term “compartmentalize.”  This is taking the bad stuff in your life, putting it on the shelf while you’re at work, and doing your job to the best of your ability regardless of what you have going on outside of the gym.

It’s not always easy, but I find that there are days when I feel horrible going into the gym for one reason or another, and as soon as I get in and start coaching people, immediately my spirits are raised and my outlook improves.

Another key component of bringing your best everyday is for you to get better everyday.  Continuing education is a must these days.

No longer is it acceptable to learn what you used back in college to get results.  You might not have to change how you do things every five years, but you should be constantly educating yourself to improve your skills as a trainer or coach.

When your education is on point, it’s easy to bring your best every day to work. And trust me, your clients will know that you’re the real deal as well.

5 – Stay Positive!

Finally, there’s nothing better than bringing a positive attitude to the gym each and every day.  A positive attitude is infectious – your clients and athletes can feel your positivity, and it rubs off on them.

Just like you can have bad days, so can they.  But if you’re positive and upbeat when you walk in the gym, you can turn their day around and make their next workout a great one!


So those are five of my best tips for motivating clients.  What are some of your favorite strategies for keeping clients motivated and achieving success?

I’ll look forward to your comments below!

All the best



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  1. I really like tip # 3!
    And it is so true.. The sooner we let the people who sucked our energy go we had more energy and we got really nice clients who took their place.
    And now all of us are enjoying the time we spend with our new clients and still we feel so energetic.
    Thanks for sharing this article 🙂

  2. Great list.

    #5 is such a biggie, and something i have seen various trainers struggle with or not completely understand. Whether you like it or not, clients view you as a coach and not just an instructor. Sure, it’s on them to have a “why” and purpose and all that, but it’s our job to cajole that desire, confidence and purpose to the surface.

    I actually was able to put together a list of 12 ways trainers keep their clients motivated with guest contributions from strength coaches, a yoga instructor, a world record powerlifter and a bunch of trainers. You can check it out here: http://www.yourworkoutbook.com/personal-trainers-keep-clients-motivated/

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