Mastering Motivation

Mastering Motivation

Fitness clients can be a rewarding yet difficult group of people to deal with. Quite often they believe they are more dedicated to their new found outlook on health & fitness then they actually are, and as a personal trainer it’s your job to try to help clients stay motivated, excited, and consistent in their training schedule. Below are some helpful and simple tips that will assist you in helping your clients (and maybe yourself) during those periods of “just not feeling it”.


You need to help clients understand that they came to you because they felt like something wasn’t right, and they needed help to fix the issues they are facing. It is unlikely that just 21 days ago they just woke up and said things need to change, so remind them that they need to continue past the magic 21 day mark to adopt the necessary life habits. In fact, the Behavioral Change Model tells us that there are 6 steps to making lifelong changes, and stage 4, which is the phase your new client is in now, referred to as the “Action” phase, actually continues for 5 years before they evolve into “Maintenance”, the phase in which they have truly adopted fitness & healthy eating as a lifestyle. So help your client to see the lifelong term goal.


These tactics are very effective, yet seldom used by trainers for clients. By allowing the client to use visuals and reminders of where they would like to be, can help them stick to a goal. Here are two examples:

Visualization: Seeing yourself where you want to be, or how you want to perform.

Step #1: Have the client take a selfie pic and print it out.

Step # 2: Have they client find a pic of a body type they want to be like (make sure it follows the SMART goals you have laid out). Cut your face off the self, and glue it onto this body. Now your mind will start to connect your body to the pic, and you will beginning to perceive yourself as that person, and you will begin to emulate the lifestyle behaviors that match that body type.

Reminders: Reminders of the goal you are aiming for This one is quite simple. Many clients want to “get back to the body they used to have”, something you hear this all the time as a trainer. So how can you help with this?

Have them place 2 pics of themselves beside each other in a highly visible place, like the refrigerator door. One pic will be the older, fitter self they want to get back to, and the other pic, a current pic. If you can, try to use their ‘before’ pic you should have. By being in a place they see often, it will remind them of why they are training hard and eating right, and they will be able to stick better to the goal. As their trainer, you can even go one step further, and text them their old goal picture periodically to remind them of their desired goal. Weekend evenings are an especially good time!


There is no better proven way to help a client stay focused than by having them fill out a daily nutrition and fitness journals. This will help them make good food choices as they will be focused on what they are eating, and not passively putting things into their mouths, and they will know that as their trainer, you will be reviewing the journal from time to time, adding a new level of self accountability.


It is important to remember that you are the fitness fan, not your clients. Quite often many clients workout only because they feel they have too, it’s not something they get excited about at the office they way people like us do. While we may be celebrating ‘squat day’, they are probably dreading it, so it’s important to understand that you are providing a service that needs to be effective, results driven, but even more importantly, FUN!

Always make sure you try to incorporate the types of exercise that the clients find enjoyable; if they like running for example, find ways to incorporate running into their program as often as you can. If they like yoga, then focus on slow controlled movements, isometric weight training, stretching and introduce them to basic mobility work. Make sure you MATCH the training to the clients lifestyle and personal preferences.

It’s also important to MIX up the training from time to time. Introduce them to something new, a new drill, sport or exercise. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how many women clients enjoy some kickboxing after they try it out with me, and if I had not introduced it to them they would never have known how much they like it.


Setting proper goals is something that all trainers must become very, VERY good at. The simplest way to do this, is by becoming very effective at setting a large, overall SMART goal, and then setting a number of smaller, easy to hit micro-SMART goals. Then make sure to reflect on and visit these smaller goals often. Once a small goal has been reached, make sure to have a small reward for the client, or make sure they have a way to reward themselves, for example maybe a massage for every 2KG they lose.

By helping clients to master their motivation, you will become a world class trainer, and one that is sure to get lots of referrals by clients, and a loyal client following.

These were just a few tips, and there are many more ways to master motivation, but start with one or two of the above, and after you have mastered those, you can begin to incorporate more.

By Ror Alexander