Coach-Client Relationship

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2016 NSCA Coach of the year Ron McKeefery has spoken at length about the importance of learning an athlete’s WHY. While it sounds simple, learning an individual’s reasoning for X may be more complex than you think. However, in learning so it is needed to help facilitate a positive coach-client relationship.

When meeting a client for the first time I like to do four things:

  1. Find their “WHY”
  2. Describe my education, experience and training philosophy
  3. Determine if a potential positive coach-client relationship can be formed. If so,
  4. Set expectations as well as show that I care and am serious about their goals.

1. Finding their WHY

Finding their WHY allows me to tap into their psyche, and provide motivation when needed most. As coaches, most of us got into the profession because we LOVE to train- we’ve seen how training has made an impact on our life. However, not everybody loves to train.

Having your client train at 6am on a Friday after a long stressful week may not be what dreams are made- coupled with the fact that they ”don’t like the gym”. Yet, in this exact instance, if we know of their deep, burning desire and remind them of it on a cold, dark Friday morning…things become a little easier.

2. Describe my education, experience and training philosophy

You don’t want to p*** off Amy, who recently signed a personal training package for several hundred dollars by having her complete a kettlebell challenge. All joking aside, I like to describe my education, experience, and training philosophy to potential clients as it helps answer their questions and concerns. If a client wants Crossfit style workouts, I’m probably not the person for them. Most importantly, they will know that before we get started. In addition, explaining my education, experience, and training philosophy can allow clients to visualize a successful future with me. 

I once heard a S&C state that coaches should ”Under-promise and Over-deliver” in their training programs. I agree- I don’t intend be a sell-out, now or any time in the future by setting unrealistic expectations for clients.

3. Determine if a potential positive coach-client relationship can be formed  

Thankfully to date, I’ve only had positive experiences with potential members. I don’t exactly have a magical formula for this one, but it’s more of something you just ”feel” within an initial meeting with a potential client.

4. Set expectations as well as show that I care and am serious about their goals

I like ask three questions to potential clients within an initial client consultation

  1. State three of your fitness goals
  2. On a scale of 1-10 how close are you to achieving your goals?
  3. On a scale of 1-10 how serious are you about committing to your goals?

Questions 2 and 3 are depicted in a diagram.. it really helps with visualization- there is something to be said about writing down goals!

Based upon their responses, we come to mutually agreed upon expectations. And lastly, how do I show that I am serious about their goals? by a) acting in a professional manner, b) by continually assessing and reassessing their goals and c) by knowing every single one of their goals and constantly reminding them of their goals.

By taking the time to learn an individual’s motive for exercising, it is possible to build a strong foundational relationship. The strength of the relationship will only get stronger over time as long as you continue to act in a professional manner, but most importantly, by never losing sight of their goals.

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