Fitness trainers and health coaches know that clients won’t succeed without changing their habits and lifestyle. Encouraging words from their coach keep them motivated and accountable.
It’s a tricky balance. You don’t want to send clients a firehose of information, and you also don’t want to answer questions they could be Googling. These six communications tips from health pros will help you find the right balance—and transform your clients’ lives.
1) Check In With Your Clients Regularly
“I always tell my clients—I see you for two hours per week—but what are you doing for the remaining 166?” says Amanda Dale, a personal trainer and sports nutritionist.
Clients have to do the work themselves. You can have great sessions and a good rapport, but if a client isn’t sticking with the program, they’re not going to reach their goals.
“Reaching health and fitness goals means making the right choices more often than not,” says Dale. “By maintaining regular check-ins, I make the client feel accountable for their choices all week long—not just in the moments they’re in the facility with me.”
Texting and email are the best ways to send daily check-ins. You can remind clients to work out, fill out their calorie log, or perform other regular tasks that they might forget. Or, you can send out encouragement, instructions for a new stretching routine, or a healthy recipe.
It can be a lot of work to keep up with check-ins. Fortunately, apps like Off Day Trainer can help.
Ask your client to pick whether they prefer email or text messages. Then, set up an individual profile for each client that will send them personalized check-ins at the appropriate time. When you plan their week, set aside time to write and schedule messages for your client.
2) Set Communication Boundaries
You’ll want to make sure your client doesn’t text you too much. Set clear expectations about what you’ll talk about and when you’ll talk about it. You probably don’t want to be bothered every time a client feels guilty for eating chocolate cake!
Make sure that a client knows the hours you aren’t available. Explain that they should only text you about your work together. Otherwise, you might wind up getting twenty messages on what you thought was a night off.
3) Reschedule Via Text
Cancellations drive every trainer crazy. They usually happen at the last minute. Even a strong cancellations policy backed up by fees can’t prevent them all.
You’ll have fewer last-minute cancellations if your clients can get in touch with you via text. If you make rescheduling and cancellation more accessible, you’ll be able to keep your schedule full, retain clients, and cut down on ghosting.
“Texting is my favorite way to confirm or reschedule sessions. It’s quick, easy and clients don’t have to call and play phone tag or even have the niceties. You can just be quick and simple,” says Lesley Logan, a pilates instructor.
This is especially good advice if your clientele is made up of millennials. Young people prefer texting to phone calls.
4) Meet With Clients Remotely
Some health coaches don’t have to be in the same room as their clients to be effective. Julia Sarver, a holistic health coach, just works with her clients over the phone or internet.
“I do all of my client communication remotely—I almost never meet with clients in person any more,” says Sarver. “This allows me to have a global business. …I’ve also found that it helps my clients be more compliant and show up more regularly because making a phone call is easier than driving to my office.”
Switching to remote can change your workday, but it won’t diminish your practice. “In terms of quality of session—there is no difference between in person or via audio/video,” says Tahzeeb Lalani, a nutritionist.
The benefits are significant. If you schedule a video session, you and your client won’t waste time commuting. It’s much less likely that one party will be late. They’ll get their full hour, and you’ll both be less stressed out.
5) Make Up Training Sessions Remotely
Remote meetings can even work for trainers and fitness instructors. Logan, the Pilates instructor, works with many clients remotely. She’s a fan of video conferencing.
“I teach clients via Facetime and Skype,” says Logan. “I like to see them when I teach them. Plus, they can see me if I need to demonstrate anything. It’s live and feels less remote.”
Video conferencing makes make-up sessions easier, since you can also work with clients outside of office or gym hours. You can even reschedule appointments via video for later in the same day. As long as your client has the right equipment at home, you can coach them through a high-quality session.
6) Share Documents In The Cloud
Diets, workout plans, and calendars can all be easily shared on services like Google Drive.
Sharing documents on cloud services means that they won’t get lost. If you use these services, you’ll never have to write up a custom fitness plan all over again for an absent-minded client.
“I have a short group detox program that I run for my clients, and that program has a lot of materials associated with it.” says Sarver, the holistic health coach. “I share a customised, PDF starter guide with all my clients when they begin a program with me, then I provide updates to that data. I explain the results or data in person, and then I send the accompanying documentation.”
Document sharing will give you and your client access to the same information all the time. The client won’t be confused, and you won’t forget what they’re supposed to do with you at the next session.
That’s the goal of all these tips: helping your client use your knowledge to improve their health.
Health and fitness challenges are deeply personal. If you can meet clients in their own home, they’ll be more comfortable and honest with you.
Sarver, who meets with all of her clients remotely, wouldn’t switch back to in-person meetings: “I find that many of my clients are more comfortable talking about their deepest challenges over the phone or via webinar rather than in person.”
That kind of communication can only lead to more success.