Compassion and Empathy for Personal Training Success
In this last article of the "lasting results for real clients” series, we'll bring all the discussed strategies together. You will learn ways of becoming the personal trainer that understands their clients to the core and can help them achieve the fitness goal they desire.
What is Empathy?
According to Cambridge Dictionary empathy is "the ability to share someone else's feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person's situation."
Life experience tends to make people more empathetic as they get to experience a range of situations, meet more people, face adversity and struggles as well as successes and failures. While I am not saying that older personal trainers are more likely to be more empathetic, they do have an advantage.
So what can you do if you're only starting your career and have no idea what it could be like to be a 50yr old CEO who has worked their health and fitness away for decades in high impact corporate job roles? Or maybe you've been in the industry for decades when a potential client in their 20s finds you with the new trend goal of sculpting big glutes and looking like one of the Kardashians, and you don't feel you can relate. We'll get back to that.
What is Compassion?
Sticking to Cambridge Dictionary, compassion is a "strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them".
When you speak to personal trainers of all ages from all backgrounds, the most common desire and mission they will mention is to "help people". Whether that's to achieve a body composition goal, improve sports performance, lose some weight or become fitter in every sense, doesn't matter. Helping is at the core of the personal training profession.
I believe in that mission myself, which is one of the reasons we built PT Distinction so that trainers and coaches can become more efficient in delivering on their promise.
On another note, personal trainers are also humans with struggles. Like any other people, you have bills to pay, kids to raise, fitness goals to reach, and so on. When life is stressful, it's harder to stay compassionate, but that's one of the main reasons to focus on compassion at the same time.
5 Reasons to Prioritise Empathy and Compassion with Your Clients
When you devise a fitness and nutrition plan, you design them with the client's goals in mind, taking into account their lifestyle, environment and the changes they need to make to start progressing towards their fitness goals. If they don't stick to that plan, it's less likely they will see any success.
Approaching each clients struggles and even their flakiness with compassion and empathy shows them you're committed to them no matter what life throws at them.
Improvement is a result of adherence and consistent work towards the client goal every day.
When life throws a curve-ball, they will need you to be flexible in your approach and help them figure out how to keep progressing when the circumstances change. Updating their plan, changing session times or frequency, or referring them to a practitioner if their problem is outside of your scope are all signs that you care. They'll appreciate it, and they'll keep moving toward their goals whatever obstacles life throws at them.
If you are "just" a professional who helps clients exercise during their sessions, prescribes them 3-5 workouts per week and a strict nutrition plan without follow-ups, you won't see them renewing when they need to make a financial decision. They may even seek out someone else if they feel something is lacking. Empathy and compassion can fill that gap.
Now that we are at the very end of this series, you can see how many aspects of personal training add up for your clients results. All the strategies discussed in the previous articles will help you to show more empathy and compassion towards your clients, help them to do something every day towards their desired achievements and appreciate all you have done for them.
People will only recommend services to their friends and family they trust. It's simple as that. You can have the best referral system in place, but if your clients don't feel like sending their friends and family to you, you have more groundwork to get right before asking them that. Feel free to run surveys periodically to find out what works, what doesn't, and how you could improve your offerings.
Don't get me wrong. There is a place for being resilient and using tough love techniques to push your clients to perform beyond their limits. However, sometimes a little more flexibility, empathy and compassion will help clients go further on their fitness journey and help your fitness business thrive.