One of the most important jobs we have as personal trainers is not only holding clients accountable to their goals but first helping them to actually set realistic and attainable goals. As someone who has been training clients for 15 years, I have worked with all different types of clients from different niches, age ranges, lifestyles, and fitness levels. I’ve learned that not every client is motivated by the same things. As trainers we have to relate to each client individually and try to find which tactic and motivation techniques will work best for each individual client. This is where personal training is truly “personal” as it’s important for us as trainers to really connect with our clients and figure out how we can help our clients best.
Let’s start with this—not every client that comes to see you for personal training is going to have a goal of weight loss. I have many clients (especially those over the age of 40) that come in to see me to feel better, maintain or build muscle mass as they age, stay active, or sometimes just to get out of the house!
Here is a broad spectrum of the average goals and motivation techniques of the age ranges of clients in my niche.
Note: this is just a generalization to provide examples, but of course each client is different.
My main niche is helping women get stronger through building muscle and fueling their bodies properly (no starvation diets).
Women ages 22-30
Main Goals: Normally to decrease body fat or look leaner, these days it’s often to build a bigger booty, and build a healthier relationship with food.
Motivation Techniques/Goals: Training women this age is one of my favourite things to do because I can help them feel amazing in their own bodies, teach them not to rely on the scale alone to gauge progress, and show them the power of strength training and eating to fuel their bodies. I help them with setting performance goals in the gym to take the focus off of weight loss as well as tracking their food to ensure they are eating enough.
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Women ages 30-40
Main Goals: Often very similar to the previous age group, however these women are often postpartum or have older kids and are just looking to get back into taking care of themselves.
Motivation Techniques/Goals: Again very similar techniques as the previous age group in teaching them healthy lifestyle habits and not to use the scale to determine their progress or compare themselves to their “pre-baby body”. As someone who has also had two kids, I love working with women in this age range to help motivate them to lift heavy weights and feel amazing in their skin. We use performance goals a lot and focus on a great outfit they want to look amazing in as opposed to the scale.
Women ages 40+
Main Goals: Often women in this age range have more health-related goals like preventing injury and maintaining muscle mass and strength. They might be looking to lose some weight and just feel better about themselves.
Motivation Techniques/Goals: I love working with women in this age range who have never really done any strength training because they grew up in an age where women did not lift heavy weights. I love showing them how amazing it is to feel strong and that they can do unassisted pull ups and barbell deadlifts if they work their way up to it. We address any aches and pains in the body with functional and core training as well as unilateral exercises in order to work on balance etc.
These are just a few examples and of course again very broad ideas of how you can specify goals and motivation depending on who you are working with. Athletes often want to focus on performance goals and want to know their numbers for everything and young or middle aged men might have different goals and motivation tactics.
The most important take away is to listen to your client, ask them what has or hasn’t worked in the past, and what they need from you to ensure they are successful.