Training Tips
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10
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5 Psychological Principles That Every Fitness Coach Should Know

Written by
Apra Pathak

The rewarding task of fitness training does come with some hurdles. Many coaches struggle to keep their clients engaged, motivated, and excited about working out. If you find yourself in this situation, don't worry - you're not alone. Continue reading to learn about 5 psychological principles that can help any fitness coach keep their clients on track.

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As a personal trainer, you have this exceptional opportunity to help people improve their physical and mental health. This rewarding task does come with some hurdles, though. Many coaches struggle to keep their clients engaged, motivated, and excited about working out.

If you find yourself in this situation, don't worry - you're not alone.

Our previous blog post captured 10 Tips to Keep Your Clients Excited About Training. Today, we'd like to share some psychological principles that every personal trainer must use to help prevent their clients from burning out.

Understanding and applying some of these crucial concepts can take your coaching to the next level and make a massive difference in your clients' lives.

Here are five psychological principles that every fitness professional should know:

The Power of Habit Formation

Most of us are creatures of habit. We like routines because they allow us to operate on autopilot and conserve our mental energy for other things.

Personal trainers should leverage this by helping clients develop healthy habits around their exercise routines.

For example, you might suggest they work out at the same time every day or set a regular appointment for their weekly session with you. Making exercise a routine part of their lives increases the likelihood of sticking with it in the long run.

The Impact of Social Proof

Social proof is a powerful psychological phenomenon where we tend to copy the behaviors of those around us. As a coach, you can use social proof to your advantage by creating a supportive community among your clients. It could include taking group sessions, as well as building online communities.

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When clients see others succeeding with their fitness goals, it will help motivate them to do the same. You can also harness the power of social media by sharing success stories and inspiring posts on your page or profile. It will motivate your clients to follow through with your program as well as may act as an incentive to have their stories shared.

Another form of proof could come as your training certification. Clients are more willing to listen to an authority figure who has proof of knowledge. As a certified personal trainer, you will have an upper hand in keeping your clients hooked on every word you say during your training programs.

The Role of Anticipatory Pain and Pleasure

Humans are motivated by two things: the desire to avoid pain and the desire to seek pleasure.

As a personal trainer, you can use this principle to your advantage by helping your clients anticipate both the pain and bliss associated with their fitness journey.

For example, you might paint a picture of how awful they will feel if they don't stick with their workout routine or show them the ill effects of an inactive lifestyle (anticipatory pain).

Or, you may share stories about how great they will look and feel once they reach their goals and the health benefits of working out regularly (anticipatory pleasure).

Using both expectant pain and pleasure, you can help your clients find the internal motivation they need to stay on track.

The Importance of Setting Specific Goals

When it comes to goal setting, specificity is critical.

Vague goals like "I want to lose weight" or "I want to get in shape" are not nearly as effective as specific goals like "I want to lose 10 pounds" or "I want to be able to do a pull-up."

Why?

Because specific goals provide clear direction and measurable progress markers—two things essential for maintaining motivation over time. Tap into this exercise science, and help your clients set specific fitness goals to stay motivated and on track.

Another aspect of this principle is to find the "why" behind the goal.

Why are you doing this?

If clients are confident of the "why", i.e., they are clear about their source of motivation and inspiration, achieving their goal will be a piece of (sugar-free protein) cake.

The Impact of Self-Efficacy on Behavior Change

Self-efficacy refers to our beliefs about our ability to complete a task or reach a goal.

Studies have shown that people with high self-efficacy are more likely to persist in facing adversity and fulfill their potential than those with low self-efficacy.

As a personal trainer, one of your most important jobs is to help your clients build self-efficacy around their ability to change their behavior (i.e., stick with their workout routine). You can do this by providing support, offering encouragement, and helping them identify past successes. Speaking kind and encouraging words to new clients will help them stick to the plan in the long run.

Final Note

Remember, as a coach - YOU have the power to make a difference in your clients’ lives—so use it wisely!

Keep your clients engaged and focused on their goal for a healthier tomorrow.

If you're interested in learning more about fitness business growth and training tips, check out our other blog posts here.

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