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by Casey McIlvaine

Being a personal trainer is as much about the psychological aspects of dealing with clients as it is about the physical aspects of working with them. Because of that dichotomy personal trainers must be able to reconcile what a client wants, which may not be good for them physically or mentally, with what they need in order to produce the best health and fitness outcomes.

Barring random accidents and health-compromising conditions that manifest from a genetic or hereditary level, most people reach poor health and weight issues from embracing their short-term desires rather than long–term goals. By the time they reach out to a fitness or personal training professional for help and support, those tendencies to get what they want verses what they need are well engrained.


It is the job and mission of personal trainers to provide people with the guidance, advice and support that they need to get healthy and stay healthy. Although we as humans are wired to seek out the path of least resistance, this is at odds with growth in any endeavor including getting fit and healthy. Consequently, people are often looking for an easy or comfortable way to change their health for the better while the personal trainer knows there are no shortcuts.

Many diets, exercise programs, infomercials, and multi-level marketing schemes are built around the premise of delivering short-term results. By appealing to our desire to find a simple solution with no sacrifice on our part, they tell us what we want to hear. As personal fitness instructors, we understand that every day brings both small and big challenges to staying fit that must be met with strength of will to bolster strength of mind and body. In essence this is what our clients need as opposed to what they want.

As a skilled personal trainer, you understand that the human body was designed for movement in order to regain and/or sustain health and fitness. This process often involves a certain amount of discomfort for people accustomed to being sedentary where ease and comfort are synonymous.


Some basic psychology must be employed to unseat a client’s desire for fitness by impossible means of comfort and ease. As a big part of the support and encouragement, this psychological component is all about helping them ask and answer important questions that will help them see the benefits of what they need as opposed to what they want in order to reach their fitness goals.

This often starts with asking and answering why they are overweight, the role that food plays in their lives, and why movement through exercise can and should be at turns enjoyable as well as difficult. The exercises, activities and diet plans that you craft for each client are worthless without helping them see why it takes hard work to affect permanent change. This is why it is so crucial to develop the empathy skills that convey the support and encouragement that they will need to change their lives for the better.


One Response to “Personal Training Tips: What Clients Want vs. What Clients Need”

  1. Weight Loss Tips for Women

    Yes, I agree with your point that fitness and health are the key element for better living. The people should understand the importance of this.


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