You’ve been in the personal training world for a minute, so you probably already have an entire vocabulary of lingo, mantras, and motivational elevator speeches to kick your clients’ inspiration into high gear.

The point is, you already know that what you say is hugely important to your clients—the right pep talk, the right amount of positive pushing, the perfect dollop of you can do it makes a huge difference. In short, there are things you definitely need to say to your client.

With that in mind, it makes sense that there’s probably an entire list of things that you should never say to your client. You might be wondering why this list exists—you might be thinking, aren’t I here to make my clients better, should I be able to push them?

Absolutely. But how you push your clients makes a world of difference—pushing your clients using negativity, shaming, or hurtful words can do more than just keep them from working with you, it can turn them off to fitness altogether. Isn’t the ultimate goal to help every person who works with you to become the healthiest, best version of themselves possible? It should be.

Here are a few things you should always avoid saying to your clients:

You’re so skinny—you’re way ahead of everyone else on the road to fitness

First of all, this is a huge no-no—and something you should already know. People of all weights, fitness levels, and body types struggle with self-image and confidence, so directly pointing out and being direct about how you perceive they’re shaped and assuming they’re happy with their body is a huge mistake. You also know that just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they’re at their best version of themselves. Everyone has different goals and body types, and automatically assuming someone is miles ahead of someone else just because they might not look unhealthy can be a huge turnoff for potential clients.

You’re doing that wrong

Look, we’re not saying that you can’t correct clients when they’re not practicing an exercise safely or most efficiently—you need to, that’s literally your job. You’re there to teach someone how to exercise safely, correctly, and proficiently, so it only makes sense that you’d be there to help correct form. But, you need to remember how you’re approaching your clients. Oftentimes, the people you’re working with are very new to exercise, it only makes sense they’d do something incorrectly. Instead of immediately jumping to “you’re doing that wrong,” try to explain how they could better adjust their body or their movement—tell them why you’re helping them adjust as opposed to just brushing them off and telling them they’re doing it wrong. Use information to help educate—it will show them why you’re doing something, help them further their education, and won’t make them feel embarrassed.

You’re being lazy, you know you can do this exercise

Don’t call your clients lazy—just don’t. Even if, in your heart of hearts, you feel like they’re being a little bit lazy. Why? Because you’re there to show your clients that you believe in them—you’re there to be a positive force, not a negative one that’s shaming them into doing better. Instead of saying things like “you’re being lazy, you can do better than that” simply encourage them to try harder, to pump out one more set, to believe in themselves enough to go the extra mile.

Look at how much you’ve improved, you’re not so chubby/fat/overweight now

Before and after type situations are always a little bit complicated, but they can be incredibly helpful. Instead of focusing on the negative parts of their before, like specific body parts or how things look, talk about how your client feels. “Do you remember how before we started working out you would feel out of breath when we’d run a mile—doesn’t it feel awesome to confidently run a mile without feeling overly winded? You did that!” Be positive, focus on your client’s accomplishments, and don’t call out the negatives out of their before story.  

At least you’re not like *insert another client’s name here*

If you’re comparing your clients to other clients—whether it’s in a negative or positive light—it’s not only going to make your clients feel uncomfortable, but it’s also going to signify to them that you’re ranking your clients on your own scale of success. In other words, they might feel like you’re classifying each client in a competitive way, which will likely make them feel self-conscious and bad about themselves. The best way to avoid this? Don’t talk about your clients to your clients. You’re there to focus on their success and their goals—never compare them to someone else.

You’re doing great for someone your age/weight/etc.

Why do you need to qualify someone’s success? Whether your client is older, heavier, newer to fitness, or anything like that, don’t qualify their progress. If someone is doing great, let them have that accomplishment—you’re doing great, and that’s that.

 

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