Have you ever had a client whose fears hold them back from the gym? I know I have. There are several things that we can do as personal trainers to help these clients tackle what I like to call “gym fears.” I have used the following four methods to help my clients overcome their fear of working out in a gym atmosphere, and I think they’ll help you too!
Make the client feel comfortable with you first
It’s possible that you may be the first person they meet for fitness guidance, so be sure to make them feel comfortable with you right away. Greet them with a big smile and a genuine welcome… these small efforts can go along way in putting them at ease and making them feel comfortable with you and with the gym itself. Make eye contact and really listen to them when they tell you their story—even if that’s via Zoom or Trainerize video call sessions!
Likewise, give proper feedback and comments accordingly. I like to share something about myself or someone I know that relates to a particular health issue or insecurity that they are having. Many clients, including those with fears about the gym, look at you as this perfect, healthy person that knows everything about exercising and being healthy. By sharing a humbling fact about yourself or your journey can help them realize that we are all human. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is attainable in spite of our personal struggles!
Educate the client on the equipment in the gym
After you take the time to get to know your new client, show them around the gym, or in the case of gym closures and online training, around the Trainerize app. If they have never worked out before, the exercises will seem intimidating.
Next, I like to take them through all of the equipment that they will be using. If we’re in person, then I show them all of the machines. I demonstrate each machine, then set it up for them and write down their settings for later reference. I also have them do a few reps to get a feel for the machine. If they’re working out from home, we discuss the equipment or the alternatives they’ll be using. Most of us learn by doing, so giving them this opportunity can go along way in easing their fears. I tell them to try the equipment on their own and to bring any questions to me in our next session together.
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Remove uncertainties by building a plan for the client
Ease those gym insecurities by having a plan for your new client to follow. Build out a workout for them (using Trainerize, maybe?!) for them to do on their own before your next session together. Be sure to take them through each exercise and have them make notes next to each one as needed. This will help them remember what they did so the next time they are working out alone there will be reminders for them as needed. Giving them a simple plan to follow will help them to feel confident in the gym while they are working out alone.
Ensure exercises and programming is appropriate for the client’s abilities
After an assessment with your client, you will have an idea of your client’s strengths and weaknesses. With new clients, be sure their exercises are appropriate for their comfort and skill level. By mixing easier and more challenging ones, you can build confidence for your client. Selecting exercises they perform well on their own can make them more comfortable on the days they are training without you.
In addition to the four ways listed, giving your clients a few tips such as coming to the gym during non-peak hours and bringing a buddy can also help ease their gym fear. A tip that I find helpful is letting them know that people are not staring at them. Gym newbies often think everyone is looking at them but just tell them that most people are concerned with their own workouts and form and not looking at what someone else is doing or not doing.
I’ve seen all of these insecurities in my new clients! I have learned that by making them comfortable, you’re empowering them to tackle bigger and better things. Comfort with you, the gym, the equipment, and their training program will ease your client’s gym fears. Plus, it’ll help them feel more secure and lead them to success!