Best PracticesBusiness GrowthFundamentals and Best Practices How to Manage Client Expectations and Build SMART Goals

How to Manage Client Expectations and Build SMART Goals

Great! A prospect has reached out and is ready to begin their fitness journey… with you! First things first, you ask to speak with them, either in person or on the phone, to discuss their goals and how you’ll help them with your specific program.

Note: Before beginning any program with a new client, always make sure you have already had their consultation discussion to understand exactly what they want and need to ensure program effectiveness and to understand client expectations.

While discussing your new client’s goals, it’s important to use some kind of method to dissect these goals and implement them to a program. The method recommended here is the SMART method. Read on for an explanation of what makes a goal SMART and for examples of how to use them to provide success to your new and existing clients.


What are their exact goals? A goal of wanting to lose weight is great but having specificity behind that goal will drive motivation as well as clarity on what you need to give them with your program.

Example: Susan wants to lose 10lbs.


How can we measure this goal? Perhaps using a scale, measuring tape, some kind of photo log?

Example: Susan will take her weight weekly to track progression.

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Is this goal achievable? This aspect is more of the client’s current body type, age, medical conditions, and ability to reach this goal. For instance, if the client is on a certain medication which inhibits weight loss, you might want to advise that client meet with their doctor first.

Example: Susan is 45 years old and is on no medication. It is most likely achievable for her to lose 10lbs.


Is this goal within the means of your client’s ability? Do they have the time available to commit to the necessary training plan? Make sure your client understands that there is no magic that will help them lose 20lbs in one week. Note that there is more about setting realistic goals with clients later in this article.

Example: Susan can realistically lose 10lbs with proper program adherence.


Each goal must have a timely manner associated with it. Again, it is not likely a client will lose 20lbs in one week. Instead, adjust the time according to your client’s motivation, as well as with your program effectiveness.

Example: Susan’s goal of losing 10lbs will be achieved in two months.

Full SMART goal example: Susan will lose 10lbs in two months by committing to the agreed-upon program. She will check her weight weekly to monitor these results.

Now that we have an established method of achieving your client’s goal, it’s important to make sure your client knows that this goal is only their Big Picture goal and not their overnight goal. In order to achieve this goal you and your client must create a specific game plan that breaks this Big Picture goal into bite-sized pieces for you and your client to tackle as a team.

For instance, after discussing your client’s Big Picture goal, start to discuss their game plan and proper implementation of your suggested program. It might be four specific workouts per week, along with a specific meal plan that accommodates the program. Each week, you and your client will review the week and make sure they are taking the proper steps to achieve the Big Picture goal. When checking in, I personally like to refer back to their Big Picture goal and acknowledge the small wins they are accomplishing each week. This helps keep their motivation high, and encourages them to progress to their Big Picture goal in a timely fashion.

So what happens when a client wants to set an unrealistic goal that you know would only happen if it were a miracle? Okay, this one is tough, but can be smoothly navigated by using your expertise as a certified trainer and an advocate in optimal wellness.

Scenario: Susan comes in saying she wants to lose 20lbs in one week, stating that she doesn’t mind skipping meals and will work out for an hour a day, for seven days straight.

Alright Susan, cool your jets…we’re trying to lose weight in a healthy way here!

For these prospects, you must calmly inform them and use your professional background to remind them that this is an unrealistic goal. Remind your client of the SMART goals strategy and help them understand that their results take time and steady progression. We’re building new habits and healthy lifestyles, here!

Stick to the SMART methodology to keep you and your clients on the same page, and you’ll be helping your clients along their fitness journeys in no time.

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