4 Types Of Personal Training Clients: Choosing The Right Fit

Types Of Personal Training Clients | EMAC Certifications

4 Types Of Personal Training Clients: Choosing The Right Fit

The first step as a fitness professional is knowing the different types of personal training clients. This way you can determine who your ideal client is. A new personal trainer is excited just to start training. However, if you want to map out your career path or start a fitness business, you need to start here. The best way a personal trainer can categorize them is according to their fitness goal. The four client types are weight loss, general fitness, sports performance, and physique. Over time you’ll gain more experience and work with more specific populations. But, these four types of training clients align with the physical adaptations you see from exercise programming. Further, they have distinct personalities or approaches to fitness. 

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why knowing who you want to work with is important.
  • Details of the four types of personal training clients (who they are, how to train them, and now to find them)
  • Additional considerations in building your fitness clientele

Why Is It Important To Know Your Ideal Client?

Who you want to train should be the same as who you’re great at training. However, this isn’t usually the case for a newly certified personal trainer. Instead, the new personal trainer will want to work with people who have a similar fitness journey as they do. Most commonly, it’s someone who wants to work out and follow a healthy nutrition plan. But, the reality is most people don’t want to do those things. Instead, they just want the outcomes of a strict nutrition and workout program. 

Knowing your ideal personal training client sooner rather than later helps you be more successful. This is the case if you are working in a gym setting. However, it’s even more so the case if you plan to start a personal training business. When you know who you’re great at working with, you can further map out their persona. You’ll find patterns in details like demographics, goals, medical and fitness history, and preferred personal training packages. All of this helps you know who you should target to add to your growing list of fitness clients.

Start by asking yourself these questions.

What Do I Want The Client Trainer Experience To Be?

For example, you might want the fitness journey to be intense. In this case, the goals might be aggressive and client compliance is critical. Likewise, your energy and motivation will need to be high. This type of experience is common with athletes or physique-driven clients. In another example, maybe you want to be a source of support, encouragement, and fitness education. Here, your training sessions will be positive with realistic goals and a forgiving approach. This type of journey is common with weight loss or general fitness clients. 

What Types Of Personal Training Clients Get Best Results With Me?

If you’re a new personal fitness trainer, you can still ask yourself this question. Simply rephrase it as “Who are the people that tend to ask for my advice and also follow it?”. If you’re already a trainer, then you likely know the answer to this question.

Is There A Difference Between The First Two Answers?

Ideally, your answers to the first and second questions line up. But, if they don’t, that’s okay. This could simply mean the future of your fitness career is a work in progress. For example, you might want a more intense and motivating experience. But, you work at a gym in a residential neighborhood that caters to an active aging population. Therefore, you aren’t able to get in front of clients that are elite athletes yet. If this is the case, you should explore ways to have the experience you think you want. You can do this by shadowing another fitness professional you aspire to be like. Or, you can find other ways to educate yourself further.

Now, it’s time to look at the details around the four types of personal training clients.

The Four Types of Personal Training Clients

Weight Loss Clients

With 31% of the population being obese, these clients are easy to find and need the help of an exercise professional. 

Who They Are

Overweight clients run the gamut of age. However, your weight loss clients are usually between the ages of 30 and 55. They’re generally at least 30 pounds overweight and often have a health scare that’s pushing them into needing help from a certified personal trainer. They try to diet and exercise from time to time but can’t find something that sticks. Commitment levels can be low at first but seeing results motivates them to continue. These clients do great with virtual training. The features of online personal training make it a perfect fit for weight loss clients. They don’t have to worry about intimidation at the gym. Instead, they get more accountability and support from their fitness coach more frequently throughout the week. 

How To Train Them

These clients will need a lifestyle overhaul. However, to be successful with them you can’t expect perfection- especially all at once. Instead, making small changes to their eating behaviors will get them heading in the right direction. Additionally, you’ll need to keep them motivated. Incorporate multiple fitness assessments. This will help them see progress in different areas in case they get stuck in a plateau. Assessments like weight, body composition, circumference measurements, resting heart rate, strength tests, and more are important. Also, avoid high-intensity workouts that leave them feeling sore for days on end. Instead, incorporate total body workouts with moderate intensity. Help them find small wins along their journey.

Where To Find Them

Because so many people want to lose weight, you can find these clients in most spaces. Traditional marketing by the gym will get them in the door and you’ll have your shot at converting them into working with you as a personal trainer. However, if you’re running your own online personal training business, you can capture them with basic digital marketing strategies. You should enhance your online presence with free content (eBooks, videos, webinars, etc.). Keep it basic and non-intimidating like: 

  • Exercise at home- bodyweight programming
  • Nutrition tips from a personal trainer
  • Weight lifting for beginners

General Fitness Clients

Everyone can enjoy the benefits of cardio and strength training. However, these clients are in it because they see something wrong with their health and fitness as it is. When people don’t see a problem with their health and fitness, they don’t seek the advice of a trainer. Know how to spot your general fitness clients. 

Who They Are

These clients might be only moderately overweight. But, usually, you’ll find this type of client in the 55 plus age group. They might see their ability to function slowly declining. Or, whatever they used to do before doesn’t seem to be working as it did before. They’ll often come to you with pain in certain areas or start a conversation about what they want to be able to do, like run a 10k. These clients will do well in a gym setting or with an online personal trainer. So, regardless of where you run your personal training business, you’ll be able to work effectively with them.

How To Train Them

The goals of these clients will be different. But, knowing that they want to feel something better or do something better impacts your training program. Incorporating nutrition education and planning might not be important to them. Instead, do an inclusive fitness assessment with them. Include balance and flexibility tests as well as general cardio assessments. Additionally, look at their current strength levels. Then, you should create a well-rounded program to include flexibility, core, balance, reactive, and strength training. Together, these components of fitness will help them feel and function better in sometimes as little as six weeks. Also, the way fitness challenges work tends to keep these clients engaged over the long term and work well as part of their exercise program. 

Where To Find Them

These clients are similar to those trying to lose weight. The difference is, it’s not as easy to identify what their goals are. Instead, you should use polling features on social media to learn what their interests are. You can also run more free fitness challenges to get them to know who you are. As long as your fitness challenge ideas are basic enough that most people can participate, you’ll cast a wider net.

Sports Performance Clients

These are your recreational or elite athletes. They might have experience working with an athletic trainer or strength and conditioning coach. 

Who They Are

These clients are often competitive and enjoy working out for the sake of working out. They’ll enjoy pushing themselves, so expect to have an energy level that matches theirs. Additionally, once they reach one goal, they may want another. These clients are often younger and still in the middle of training for competitions. Because of the nuances that come with sports, the best form of training for these clients will be in the gym or fitness studio. 

How To Train Them

They might have experience working with an athletic trainer or strength and conditioning coach. If this is current, make sure you coordinate with these fitness professionals to create a united program. You’ll be working with them on adaptations that relate to athletic functioning. So your training program will focus on power, reactive training, and strength. You also will have to focus on recovery with these clients because they likely overtrain. Further, you’ll need to be knowledgeable in their event so you can train them to achieve the results they’re looking for.

Where To Find Them

These clients will be harder to find because there are fewer of them. Having a good referral network with athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches will help. However, getting referrals from existing clients who may have kids in sports is another way. Working with high school athletes will grow your portfolio and specialty in this area. 

Physique Clients

These clients look for a personal trainer because they simply want to look as good as they possibly can. This is the bottom line for them and doesn’t matter if it’s training for a fitness competition or not.

Who They Are

Physique clients are already in average to above-average shape. They’re usually in their 20s and 30s. They might have some extra income to spend on a personal trainer, but not much. However, they’re willing to pay what they need to look in top form condition. They have full commitment to this goal and it isn’t difficult to get them to comply with your nutrition exercise program. However, once they learn what to do and are able to get results, they aren’t usually a long-term client. Instead, you can expect to work with these clients for three to six months.

How To Train Them

To look great, these clients need changes in their body composition. The first go-to, then, is increasing lean body mass with a focus (sometimes secondarily) on decreasing body fat. Their repetition ranges in strength training should be in the hypertrophy range (8 – 12 reps). Additionally, they’ll be in the gym anywhere from four to six times per week. Expect to include nutrition programming for clients with this type of fitness goal and be knowledgeable about supplementation. It’s likely you’ll be working with them primarily, but they’re also a good client persona for hybrid training as well. 

Where To Find Them

A personal trainer can rely on the gym and Instagram to find these clients. Since their goals are visual in nature, you’ll want to be in peak physical form and have testimonials from other clients to showcase your skills. But, if you’re a new personal trainer, you should start offering to work with these types of clients for free. It will grow your exposure and attract more referrals.

Additional Considerations In Building Clientele

When you know the different types of personal training clients, who they are, and how to find them, things are so much easier. However, here are some additional considerations to account for in finding the client type that’s right for you:

  • Commitment level- If you don’t have much patience and you don’t see a high commitment from a potential client, it might be best to pass. A bad client can be worse than no client because they won’t see results and won’t help your business grow.
  • Medical history- If the client has too many medical complications, make sure you’re working with their other health providers before taking the client on full time.
  • Niche alignment- If you’re a fitness coach with years of experience, make sure the client continues to align to your niche or a niche you want to expand into.
  • Scheduling- If you’re a night person and your client loves to work out at 6 am, it won’t last for long. You won’t be at your best when training them and you might end up resenting them (or the reverse).

Finally, for more help identifying who your dream client is, how to market to them, and start a personal training business in less than a month, check out our how-to guide for online fitness coaching. You can learn the business end while you’re in a personal training study program to start making money even faster.

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