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Fitness Business

Tips for Knowing When To Turn Down a Client and Attract More Fitting Clients

If you are unsure how to turn down a client politely, then you have come to the right place! It’s no easy task to turn someone away who is coming to you for help with their health and wellness. Treading these waters can be tricky if you don’t have an established set of guidelines for who you take on as a client and how you approach the initial consultation.

Guide the consultation.

Asking the right questions to ensure that the client is right for you is imperative. Even though the client will potentially provide you with income, the results and goals reached are the end all be all of training. If the client cannot give you a well thought out and understood reason for why they need to make a change in their life, then they might not be sure enough to follow through with your training.

Understanding the deeper reason for seeking out fitness training will help you as the trainer keep the client accountable. People are more often emotionally driven, as we see with just about all advertising. Most marketing and advertising uses our emotions to establish products that make us feel good. Selling personal training sessions to clients is the promise that they are on the right course to feeling good AND looking good.

Are there any pre-existing health conditions that might limit your ability to train the client? Do the people in their lives support their goals outside of your training sessions? This is important because you can only do so much for a client, but when it comes to their own time and their support system, they might not be able to reach their goals.

Ask questions about what in their life is making it difficult for them to reach their goals on their own. For the initial conversation, it’s okay to be like the little kid who keeps asking why. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to look better?

Open up about your own past, and why you began personal training in the first place. This can help you better understand the client’s deeper goals that motivated them to seek out help from a personal trainer.

Establish your guidelines and get their thoughts on them.

In the initial consultation, establish your guidelines for having a successful and professional relationship with clients. After you lay out your rules, pay attention to their reaction and ask for their thoughts on them.

Know when to turn down a client - thoughts on guidelines

If they seem timid about rules like your cancellation policy, your payment structure, or your availability for them, then you will need to address their hesitation. Express the value of your time and how important it is that they commit to the time they are requesting from you for their own sake.

Negotiate their goals.

If a potential client outlines very weak goals in the consultation, then you can work with them to develop more hard-set and SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

If the client seems unsure about how they can accomplish those goals rather than trusting your guidance in creating those goals, then that could be a sign you need to turn the client down. Dive into a conversation about why they are not comfortable with those goals and use stories from current or former clients to establish credibility.

Give a valid reason, but do not over explain.

Over explaining your qualms about training with the client can hurt their feelings, and frankly you don’t owe them an explanation that goes beyond your comfort zone. It’s your business and you have to make decisions about the investment of your time and services that will benefit you the most.

This does not have to be in person! If you have an uneasy gut feeling after the initial consultation, then you can let the client know by a phone call or an email.

Here is a helpful eBook that comes stock full of email templates for having these difficult or rather awkward conversations with clients and potential clients.

Refer them to another personal trainer or coach if possible.

You do not want to be the trainer that pushes bad clients onto other trainers. However, you do want to be the colleague who gives other trainers opportunities. In the instance that the potential client has a specific need that you feel you cannot cater well to, then you can send them on their way to one of your colleagues.

When you have the chance to reference a client to another trainer and it turns out to be a profitable exchange, then your reputation shines a little brighter among your peers. This also makes you more likely to receive references from others in return as well!

Do NOT be the trainer who passes a potentially very difficult client on for someone else to reject. The referral must be sound in nature and because you see potential for that client to get the help they need.

Getting a lot of clients that don’t fit your fitness business?

If you are receiving too many clients that you feel you cannot best serve, then maybe reconsider your marketing tactics. The messaging and mediums you use to attract new clients could funnel the wrong crowd through your door.

For example, if you are a young trainer looking to emerge in the field of sports training, then you want to ensure your advertising and marketing efforts revolve around the type of training you offer. Your ads should make that clear and placed in and on mediums that people seeking out a sports trainer would find them on.

This is where establishing your niche becomes important. When you have a niche in your training and you can target to a target market in that niche, then you will spend less time on consultations that lead nowhere or to wasted time. Thus you will not have to do the hard job of turning clients down as often.

Firing a Personal Training Client

How to turn down a personal training client - firing a client

You will undoubtedly come across clients who are unwilling to cooperate with your guidance. Clients can often let a negative attitude rule their sessions and can be unprofessional with you in a number of different ways, like cancelling often or questioning your knowledge and instruction. Therefore, you will also have to have the task of professionally handling a bad client.

Be clear on the reason for the relationship no longer being suitable for your business. You require value for your time and respect for your services. Being clear and distinct is better than creating a white lie that could come back and bite you later.

Communicate that you find issue in the way they have treated you or they way they have dismissed their training. If, in particular, it’s the training that they are genuinely slacking on, then you must express that your personal training business can only be successful if your clients get the results to show for the training.


As a personal trainer or health coach, it is your job to keep clients accountable and help them when they fall off the wagon. Although, you have to draw the line when the client is not a good reflection of your business and your goals as a trainer.

If the relationship is prefaced with overall negativity or discomfort, then it might be more beneficial to turn down a client than waste time on a few sessions before making your decision. Asking deeper questions and establishing your own guidelines right off the bat will help you better determine if you should spend your time on a particular client.

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