The Three Systems for Improving Client Adherence

It can be a challenge to make sure all of your clients arrive for sessions consistently—and on time. Inevitably in your career, you will deal with clients who frequently reschedule, show up late or don’t show at all.

Many trainers I know are quick to point the finger at disobedient clients and blame transgressions on clients’ lack of motivation.

At some point, however, you need to take a step back and accept that you might be partly to blame in these scenarios—especially if several of your clients display similar behaviors. If this is something you experience in your business, it’s time to assess what you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.

The first step to improving client adherence is to evaluate why it happens. In most cases—barring true emergencies, of course—the simple answer is that your clients don’t perceive their sessions with you to be as important as their other commitments. This means it’s up to you to create enough value in your services that your clients make their time with you a priority.

In this article I share three systems that will supercharge your value and ensure that your clients put their appointments with you first.

Offer a Coaching Report

Request feedback from your clients at the end of each workout, so that you can understand how to keep them engaged. Based on what you learn, you can offer a coaching report that details what to work on and how that will affect what you have planned for the coming weeks. This is a bit like a teaser trailer for the next episode of your favorite show. A sneak peek into the future keeps clients interested in coming back for more.

Here are a few questions you can ask clients to elicit useful feedback:

  • “How did you feel during today’s workout?”
  • “Which exercises did you feel the most or enjoy the most?”
  • “Which exercises were the most difficult, and did you enjoy them?”
  • “Were there any exercises that you disliked or that made you feel uncomfortable?”

It’s up to you to ask these types of questions, because some clients won’t be forthcoming with their thoughts about your programs. And if your sessions make clients feel uncomfortable, or if you ask clients to complete exercises they dislike or they don’t understand, they may become discouraged and cancel on you more often. Requesting regular feedback can help you facilitate sessions that mesh with client sensibilities and circumvent cancellations.

In your report and “conclusion” to each session, include details like these:

  • Compliment your clients on something they did well.
  • Point out something they need to work on.
  • Give them some sort of homework.
  • Remind them of their goal/vision.
  • Give them a teaser of what you have planned for the future.

Here’s an example:

“Great workout today. You really surprised me on the walking lunges—those were amazing. How did they feel? I’m really excited that we’ve come this far. With all of this hard work, though, you’ve got to get in the gym those extra two days per week to bring all of this together. One day between now and our next session, get to the gym and complete these three arm exercises that I know you enjoy, along with 20 minutes of intervals. Can you make that happen? I really think if you can do that consistently you will begin to see progress soon, and get the body you want before summer is here. Also, after today’s session I have some really great ideas for a new lower-body/core workout that I think you’ll like. Let’s plan on doing that in our next session this Thursday! Are you excited? I am! See you then.”

Build a Strong Foundation

Newer clients are usually the most “fragile.” They may feel nervous or self-conscious, and they may have significant challenges to overcome before they’re comfortable with training. It’s important to foster a community of people and a culture of support that will put newbies at ease and motivate them to put in the work to reach their goals. It is also important for you to be prepared with personalized messages, especially for your newer clients. The more you reach out, the more likely your clients are to show up to your sessions and see results.