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How to "Fire" a Client - Part 1

Posted Nov 18 2009 10:02pm
Working one-on-one with clients can be a hugely rewarding experience for any trainer at any level. Translating your passion of exercise into a viable business is truly an example of experiencing the American Dream. It is what the personal training profession strives on and why the fitness industry continues to grow each year.

When a trainer obtains a new client, it is an opportunity to change the life of someone, who otherwise, may have not done it without professional help. It is an opportunity to show a client that there is a "mapped route" to their goal--they simply have to follow the direction of the guide (You). The experience becomes somewhat of a revelation to the client--simply because they tend to learn more about themselves and become more comfortable in their own skin--especially around you (the trainer).

However, there are times when the experience turns stressful and lines are crossed. Sometimes the relationship between the trainer and client changes from a simple exchange of words brought on by inconsistent moods, stress, or emergencies. Other times, a client may forget that the trainer serves as the preceptor and that coaching involves incorporating different strategies to achieve the desired outcome.

Everyone has a bad day, right? And a passionate job should not have to be a stressful job--all the time. There are times when coaching others can be stressful and energy-consuming, but we do it for the "love of the game". However, there are those that do not like to surrender themselves during instruction and coaching. There are times when the very people we are trying to help--become difficult, abrasive, and antagonistic. They arrive to a session upset, frustrated, stressed, or their attitude contrasts your personality.

What I am going to talk about in the next couple of parts is how to distinguish if a client is simply having a bad day...or is problematic (meaning...time to let them go). The easiest way to distinguish the difference between the two is simple:
Bad day - Short term (usually 1 day, possible 2-3 days; brought on by a stressful situation in the client's personal life)

Problematic - Long term (typically runs over 1 week; usually a change of attitude coinciding with a change in behavior, adherence, communication, and approach)

There are other ways to evaluate why a client's attitude may have changed. Here is a few questions to ask yourself about your relationship with your client.

1.) Did your client experience a traumatic event in their life, job, or current relationship (small scale vs. large scale) in recent history?

2.) Was there a something inappropriately said between you (trainer) and your client in recent history?

3.) Has there been a change in punctuality? Yours or your client's?

4.) Have you changed your fees? Possible increase?

5.) Has your clients not experienced any changes in their progress? Has there been any progress? (Note: length of time)

6.) Has your client suffered any injuries recently? (Injuries will put a damper on attitude in people that are goal-oriented)

7.) Has there been an event outside of the client session between you and your client that may have changed the relationship?

8.) Does your client not leave his/her job at the workplace?

9.) is your client fixated on numbers on the scale? or body fat?

10.) And lastly, who controls the session? You or your client?

In part 2, we will see how to exactly "sever" your relationship with a hostile or uncooperative client.

In part 3, we will examine "why" it is important to do this and what repercussions may come about.
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