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The Value of Teaching vs. Telling When It Comes to Personal Training

Many people believe the role of a personal trainer is simply to tell clients what to do. For instance, a client is told how many reps to do, how long cardio sessions should be, and what types of vegetables to eat.

But effective personal trainers know that the key to a good relationship with clients and lasting results goes far beyond telling your clients what to do. It involves helping them understand the why behind their actions and empowering them with knowledge so they can make decisions on their own.

When you tell a client what to do, you give them their program and, beyond the occasional check-in, the communication ends there. But when you teach a client, you share pertinent information about why the program will help them reach their goals. You help them understand why certain elements are critical. Above all else, you are providing knowledge in addition to physical results to result in long-term success.

How Teaching Can Lead to Longer-Term Clients and Higher Success Rates

If your clients understand the why behind their program, the likelihood they will stay committed to it increases. Simple as that. Even if someone has no experience in the gym, they often come to a personal trainer with some preconceived notions about what their experience should be like. For example, they may believe every single workout needs to be hard and grueling. When their program doesn’t reflect that, they may feel like they won’t get results if they don’t understand the reasoning behind it. This does not bode well for the trainer.

But by communicating why rest days are important or why you’re asking them to monitor their food intake, your clients will be more likely to be compliant with your requests, which will ultimately help them get the results they’ve hired you for. As your clients continue to see great results and feel more confident both inside and outside the gym, they’ll want to take on bigger and bolder accomplishments and there’s a good chance they’ll want your help getting there!

When you teach a client instead of telling them what to do, you are helping them expand their knowledge. They will see the physical changes in their bodies and will feel stronger, but they’ll also see an increase in their understanding of their bodies and their lives. This is a powerful driver that can lead to lasting lifestyle changes.

You may think this would cause clients to work with you for shorter periods of time. If you’re teaching your methodology, what will they need you for? But in actuality, when you empower your clients to make decisions for themselves and to understand the why behind your coaching, you create an opportunity for a deeper relationship that’s built on trust and respect.

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How to Integrate Teaching Moments Into Your Training

While there are many benefits of teaching as opposed to telling, it’s important to remember that your clients have hired you for your knowledge and expertise. You will still need to incorporate some telling into your relationship, but you can weave in teaching opportunities for a greater effect.

When you provide a new training program, it’s helpful to teach a client how this program ties into the big picture of their goals, while also telling them what moves to do, how many reps and sets, and so on. When you want to help a client adopt a new lifestyle habit, you can provide a list of beneficial habits and the reasons behind each one, and then empower them to pick which one they’d like to start with based on their newfound knowledge.

Being an effective trainer who teaches his or her clients is more time-consuming than simply writing a training program, or emailing somebody with the new habit they should work on for the week. You should take this into consideration when planning out your week while keeping in mind that this extra time is simply an investment for greater client results.

Key Teaching Moments in a Client Lifecycle

There will always be new information to share with your clients and new concepts to teach. However, there are a few key moments where teaching will be of utmost importance, one of them being the beginning of your relationship.

When your client is about to begin their first program with you, it’s important they gain an understanding for your training philosophy, especially if they are brand new to exercise. You can choose to share information in small, digestible chunks so as not to overwhelm your client.

You can also use the transition from one program to another as a teaching opportunity. Share how things will be different in the upcoming weeks, and how this will help them achieve their goals. And finally, when a client is about to wrap up their time with you, you can teach them what they need so they can confidently move forward in their training on their own.

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Using Auto Messages to Send Scheduled Lessons to Your Clients

As mentioned above, teaching your clients takes more time than simply telling them what to do. Using the Auto Messages feature within Trainerize can help streamline the process, ensuring your clients receive key pieces of information at the right time.

When a new workout is released into a client’s program, you can schedule a message that includes important details about the workout and how it ties in with their goals. You may also want to share a piece of information about what non-physical task you’d like them to try on a rest day.

From a lifestyle perspective, you may decide to share new pieces of information that you think will help your clients reach their goals. For example, every 2 weeks you might want to share a new habit that will help them and explain why. Schedule these messages in, and end each with a question. This will continue the dialogue between the two of you and will help him or her gain a deeper understanding of the concepts you’re sharing.

Why Teaching is a Lifelong Part of Personal Training

Regardless of how long your client has been with you, your role as a teacher will never end. As your client moves through his or her fitness journey, there will always be new pieces of information to share that will make their goals more attainable. As they reach their goals and set new ones, there will be new concepts to understand. And as their lifestyles shift, there will be new challenges to navigate.

Developing your ability as an effective teacher will help your clients get better results both inside and outside of the gym. It’s a skill that not enough personal trainers are working on, so investing this time will really help you stand out from the crowd.

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