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End Frustration with Your Clients

“I’m so disappointed in Suzie… I can’t believe how she’s slacking off.”

“When John started training with me, he was so excited… he never missed a session. Now he rarely shows up.”

“After all of my hard work with her, it’s so frustrating to see Patricia continue to gain weight. She obviously doesn’t do any of the things I taught her.”

“If he would just listen to me and follow through, Jim would be reaching his goals.”

Have you ever had similar thoughts about any of your clients? In the past, I certainly have. I knew my stuff and I knew how to communicate it. But so often, I watched as many of my clients failed. And I felt as ineffective as a janitor without a plunger standing before a clogged toilet – I didn’t have the right tool… and the problem was getting worse.


The most frustrating thing is…

It’s definitely frustrating to feel like you’re wasting your time. And when you got into this business to help people live healthier lives, it’s painful to watch someone under your care persist in the same habits that made them unhealthy.

But the most frustrating part of clients floundering is this: Their success is your success; their failure is your failure. Yes, no amount of blame or excuses can change the fact that your job is to help them to get results. If the results aren’t happening, you are at least partly to blame. Being aware of this and not knowing how to fix it can be one of the most frustrating things about the fitness industry.

The root cause

The big problem with situations like this is that clients aren’t meeting expectations – your expectations for them and/or the expectations they once had for themselves. As coaches, we need to be able to skillfully address the huge, dirty, stinky elephant in the room. We need to be quick to identify signs of clients allowing themselves to behave below expectations the way a gardener plucks out weeds when they first pop up from beneath the soil. But how?

Plan ahead

One day, after months of repeatedly experiencing these disappointing situations, this interesting fact dawned on me: all of my clients were human. While this may be obvious, I realized in that moment that not one human (including you and me) can maintain their motivation forever. We all go through ups and downs.

When it comes to fitness, successful people tend to have more ups and unsuccessful people tend to have more downs. This helped me to stop freaking out about clients going through periods of backtracking and struggling. There was nothing “wrong” with them (or me), we just had to find a way to get past these situations effectively and keep moving toward success.

In the end, I learned to muster up the boldness I needed to address these situations and help clients to re-calibrate when needed. I also made a small adjustment to the way that I began training with each new client: I set clear expectations for them and for myself right out of the gate.

You can get a draft of the “contract” that I completed with clients at the beginning of our time working together HERE. It includes bullet points that establish proper behavior and communication specifics. It sets clear standards for the relationship and gets the client’s approval ahead of time to call them out when they are slacking. And since it’s only fair, it also gives the client the authority to call their trainer out if they feel that what was promised isn’t being delivered.


Do yourself and your clients a huge favor and set clear expectations right off the bat. If you don’t, being one of your clients will be as frustrating as playing darts with a drunk teammate. Make sure everyone is soberly focused on a single, crystal clear target. Early on, facilitate an open discussion about your shared expectations for the training journey.


Are you ready to become even better? Find out what your clients really think by starting a FREE 360 by clicking HERE.

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