When going to the gym for the first time, the hardest step is the first one. You, as a personal trainer or fitness coach, have the absolute honor of helping clients take that leap. It’s not always the easiest task to keep a person calm, collected, and confident, especially in a place like a gym.
Let’s get into some general tips for keeping clients comfortable with you and the gym setting. When your clients have a good first experience, then you will improve your client retention!
Explain the Workout Ahead of Time Through a Personal Trainer App
Many people feel much more comfortable doing just about anything if they have a plan in advance. Think of that one family member who always has the itinerary ready to go when taking a family vacation. Despite it possibly driving everyone else insane, that family member is much more content with the thought of the trip if they have a plan in order.
Think of your clients in the same light when establishing comfort in a gym setting when going to the gym for the first time. Write up the workout and make it available to share easily by email. You can also use an app like FitSW with fitness software features to build a workout and assign it to your client so that they can review it beforehand.
Through FitSW, you can also create demo videos to attach as well as images or GIFs. Not to mention the handy dandy notes section where you can detail what to expect from the workout, the gym, or whatever other information you think they might want or need. This way they have an abundance of information and demonstration to feel prepared before even walking into the gym.
Your clients will appreciate the effort if you send them the workout ahead of time so that they can review what will be done when you both arrive at the gym.
Give Them a Quick Tour of the Facility
Picture showing up to the first day of school in high school and you have never been inside the school before. Imagine the feeling of not knowing where anything is or anyone around you and the fear of being judged for not knowing any of that information.
Aside from the people, your clients will also feed off of the physical environment and their knowledge of it. Familiarity with the environment will make the client feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Show them the restroom and locker rooms where they can shower and change if they need to.
Explain How to Use the Equipment in Detail
The equipment at a gym can daunt a client if they have used none of it before. It is good to always ask questions about the client’s knowledge on certain equipment before just assuming they have none. This will help them feel listened to and more open to asking questions in return.
The better they understand how each piece of exercise equipment works, the better off they will be when they go to the gym on their own. You can ensure that they will use proper form and know when to tap out of the exercise if they are feeling strained in the muscle group that machine or equipment works.
Start Off Small
Start off with a manageable workout that does not appear too daunting to the client. You might think it is easy, and it very well could be, but the client already has to bound over the fear of starting their fitness journey, work out in a gym for the first time, and possibly their incapability of completing an exercise.
This is where referencing a PAR-Q and a detailed initial consultation will save you and the client a lot of stress.
Do the Exercise With Them or Demonstrate It First
For the first time in the gym, participate in all the exercises you have assigned to your client. Even if you have already sent them the workout in advance with demonstrations, they will feel much more comfortable if they are not the only one out of the two of you participating in the workout routine.
This also ensures that they will complete exercises with proper form if they have yet another demonstration of the exercise, but in person. Personal trainers have to get a little sweaty too!
Do Not Leave Their Side
When a client is going to the gym for the first time, you are their pillar of comfort for being there. Therefore, it’s important that you do not leave their side at any point throughout the session. This could make them lose a bit of trust in you, especially if you do not have an excellent reason for leaving their side.
Get to the gym before your client and get everything you need done and prepared beforehand so that you do not have to leave their side at any point throughout the session. This will also give you time to scope out the gym and see what areas are busy or not.
Another point, your client might get a little too brave and try to complete an exercise without your supervision. This could lead to an injury that could affect your reputation and your continued business with that client.
Obviously, you are not babysitting the person, but their wellness and success is a direct reflection of your success as a personal trainer. Regardless of your affiliation to the gym, that could affect your reputation to the members and the other trainers in the gym as well.
Introduce the Client to Other Trainers and Clients
When going to the gym for the first time, familiarize your client with the other trainers and clients of trainers there. This will help them build a support system and help them grow more comfortable with the environment overall.
Any article your client may read about when going to the gym for the first time will mention taking a friend or family member with them. If you can start establishing connections for your client from the first day with other trainers and clients, then they will know who and what to expect when there.
They will also have people to turn to to ask questions if they go to the gym by themselves at any point, and you are not immediately available to give them advice. People find a sense of community attractive, so make sure to build that for your clients from day one to ensure their comfort and their retention.
Keep them motivated with positive reassurance
Give constant positive feedback throughout the whole session. Even if they seem to pick up on their confidence fairly quickly, it never hurts to provide that support.
Starting a workout is hard enough, but finishing it can be even more difficult! For a client who has never been to the gym before, this initial session will definitely kick them in the rear.
Therefore, they will need the positive reinforcement and encouragement to push through the pain for the gain. Although, it’s important to note that your client really shouldn’t be experiencing any pain! Just the metaphor for the fatigue and shaky body they will most likely experience.
Establish Relatability With the Client’s Experience
When going to the gym for the first time, it could help clients to have an experience to relate to. So give you background in fitness and how you started on your fitness journey. Everybody has to start somewhere, and it could provide a sense of comfort to know they are not alone in the feeling of starting out and give them an example of what perseverance can do for them.
If you feel you do not have a relatable story to share, then pick out one of your fellow trainer friends or a former client who started with similar goals as your client to begin with.
Regardless of how you do it, make sure the client understands everyone has a first experience at the gym and that they will never be alone in the feeling of intimidation.
Stay Respectful and Friendly
Make sure you maintain an ultimately friendly and understanding attitude when going to the gym for the first time with new clients.
Cussing and scoffing through a workout is normal! It’s not an effortless task. You are there to keep the client’s head on straight throughout the workout. So hold a respectfully motivational attitude all throughout.
If the client is having a particularly hard time. Take a break to stretch and share some stories of your own with tough workouts or with past clients who have been in a similar position but were able to persevere.
Overall, the clients want to feel understood and supported. Relate to them and make sure they can ask you any questions that come to their mind along the way.