This is the second part of our article that looks at how understanding client behaviour patterns can help any personal trainer deal with problem clients and enjoy productive sessions.

The Client who Knows it All frequently challenges your knowledge and expertise. He regularly questions your choice of exercises based on what he has read or heard and tries to tell you what he thinks would be better. You find it difficult to get through a session with this client without having some form of confrontation.

What to do: The trick with this type of client is to not make them feel as though they know nothing. Listen to what he has to say and commend him for trying to find out more about exercise and fitness. Try to develop a collaborative relationship. Suggest articles etc that he can read that will enhance his knowledge but won’t cause him to challenge your choice of exercises.

The Dishonest Client says that she is following your advice regarding nutrition and that she is supplementing your sessions with the exercise programme you gave her. However, she isn’t meeting her goals and you’re sure that she’s being less than honest about her homework.

What to do: The most important thing is to avoid blaming your client. Tell her that you’re confused as to why she’s not reaching her goals, and question her carefully. Explain why she needs to exercise on her own and eat correctly, and that she can’t only rely on her sessions with you to meet her goals. Then set short-term goals with her. For example, the goal for the first week can be to exercise on her own. Set up ways that she can verify that she has completed the short-term goals.

The Ghost Client frequently arrives late or does not show up at all. Even though you charge him for last minute cancellations and no-shows, he still persists with this behaviour.

What to do: This type of client probably has every intention of exercising regularly, even though he never follows through. It is important to address his behaviour as soon as you have noticed a pattern. Speak to him honestly and openly. It’s likely that he will be trying to juggle several priorities in his life. Explain clearly how regular exercise and improved fitness will help him attend to the other priorities more efficiently and improve his performance in all aspects of his life.

The Dependent Client contacts you regularly and wants your undivided attention. He never cancels a session and is reluctant to exercise on his own.

What to do: You need to set clear professional boundaries with a dependent client. Use the first few minutes of each session to answer his queries. Explain to your client that due to your schedule you are not always available to respond to emails and calls immediately. To help him overcome anxiety and boost his self-confidence, encourage him to attend small group training or exercise classes when he is not training with you.