Home PT Motivational Foundations How To Make Clients See You As A Strong Leader

How To Make Clients See You As A Strong Leader

You lose the respect of the best when you don’t deal properly with the worst
-John Maxwell

Before you go rushing to find group Personal Training ideas – you must know how to hold everything together with strong leadership skills.  Group Personal Training ideas alone just won’t cut it.  Clients want to be led.  And your group training leadership is what’s gonna bring in heavy income all-year-round.

Once upon a time…

Desperate for a good trainer, Nick’s fed up searching and wasting his money. He heard about this trainer named William.  In his area, William was the best, if not the greatest trainer in his city.

After some research he found out William worked at a local fitness centre 5 minutes where he lived.  Desperate to meet him, Nick became a member.

He knew William was busy and wasn’t taking on new clients.  Watching him tightly cut through hours of back to back clients – it was difficult catching him…even for a chat.

Finally after 7 days, he caught William finishing 5 mins early from one of his clients.

“Hey, William.  I heard you’re a good trainer.  I know you’re the best.  People always talk about you.  I’ve been watching you the past week.  I love how you get along with your clients so well.  I want to be a part of your group…

…I want you to be my trainer…”

William smiles. “You didn’t ask me if I can take you on or if I have any time.  What’s your name boy?”


”Well Nick.  I appreciate your compliments.  But I can’t take you on.  I don’t have any time slots.  And when I do, they’re reserved for referrals from my existing clients.  I’ve got 6 people on the waiting list and all have been patiently waiting for months now…

…Give us your number.  If I can fit you in – I have to set aside an interview and see if you’re the kind of person who fits my training style.”

Leadership.  It’s probably the Personal Trainer’s least developed skill.  Taking on anyone just because they can pay you is the usual approach for most PT’s.  And anyone who comes their way instantly becomes a client.  And these are the ones who complain the most and walk around like logs with a neutral (cold) face.  They take on anyone just for the money.  And they dread it.

Group training is big now. Nearly all trainers are doing it.  Why not.  It’s a great way to earn easy, quick money.  Plus, you also cater for clients who can’t afford your full 1-on-1 fee.  To set one up is usually a 2 step process.  First, promote it.  Second, sign people up.

But the problem most trainers face is they end up signing and dumping everyone in the same group.  The problem: Not everyone’s at the same level.  You got some fit, others not so fit, some have been training with you, others haven’t… a few might know the exercises and others don’t.

And the ones who like being pushed are being held back by those who ‘just don’t get it yet.’  And it’s those who are the weak links.  And if your goal is in having a strong team that flows, listens and get results fast, then your job as a leader is to detect and chop out the weak links – and produce a forged chain of strong members.

Why do this…?

Because it’s the ‘weak’ ones who pull the team down.  And this doesn’t just apply to group training.  It equally applies to your 1-on-1 Personal Training Business also.

You see, if you qualify your prosects and only accept clients who are capable of travelling at your speeds, then you’ll lead a happy Personal Training career.

“I don’t wish to be everything to everyone, but I would like to be something to someone.”
– Javan

Back to group training.  Having a like minded team is what thrives group environments. Those who are fit and want to be pushed crave to do so freely – without restrictions.  By including weak links in your team, others will blame you for weak leadership.  And without their awareness be forced to seek somebody else with the right mindset to handle their demands.

Know this: Your clients and people in general watch and judge you all the time.  And if your reputation revolves around producing fast results and attracting clients who follow through and listen, then people respect your leadership qualities.  Don’t forget, clients WANT to be lead.  They’re looking for a STRONG leader who they trust and can take them to the next level.  This can be done in 2 ways.  Attitude and reputation.  Attitude can sort of be faked.  But how you lead is where the truth of your reputation lies.

You can talk and act tough – and you might get away with it for a while… but… if you’re attracting clients who don’t listen and aren’t getting results… you look bad.  And those who once thought you were a tough leader now have doubts.

You see this all the time in the industry.

The Lesson: Strong leaders know their destination.  And they know how to recruit, fire and build the strong team that’ll take them there.

Otherwise people will question your leadership.  And as a stand out trainer, you can’t allow this to happen.

If you have a track record for attracting like minded clients who listen and are moving forward and you are known for that; then suddenly you sign up a few clients where you have to constantly put more and more resources into bringing them up to speed and in the end don’t bother changing, then it’s time to pull ‘em aside and have a chat.  If nothing happens, fire them.  If not, then your training ability and reputation is in question.

Working within a large fitness chain for many years, I’ve had trainers and members come up to me and say things like…

“Hey, what’s that trainer doing with his client.  His client hasn’t changed not one bit since, and it’s been over a year now.“ 


“I don’t think that trainer knows what he’s doing.  His clients don’t seem to be getting any results.”

It’s always been my duty to protect other trainers.  I always respond with… “It’s hardly the trainers fault.  Sometimes clients don’t listen and are not willing to put in the hard work necessary for results.  You get that a lot.” – Then I change subject.

Even though results have got a lot to do with the clients, others just don’t see it that way.  People expect by seeing a Personal Trainer for 1 out of the 168 hours per week, it’s the trainers responsibility for achieving results.  I know it’s silly.  It’s stupid.  But perception isn’t logical.  In fact, hardly anything is.

The other lesson: Don’t wish things or people were different.  You won’t get anywhere.  Instead be intelligent, adapt and manipulate your environment as you wish.

“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.
– Aldous Huxley

As a trainer you’ll get a bunch of clients you love training and a some you dread.  Let’s face it, as a trainer you love it more when you see clients grow, progress, improve each lesson, listen to you and don’t make excuses.  And if you like those clients, then why not do everything you can to attract them.

Spend some time and develop your criteria.  Answer these questions:

  • Who are you looking for as an ideal client? (hint: take a look at your current client base and take note of the types of people you get along with well.  You’ll notice there are distinct qualities about them.  Write them down)   
  • What demographic do you respond to best?
  • How are their personality types different from the rest?  What characteristics do you notice?
  • Where are your ideal clients located or found?
  • How did you initially attract them and what strategies are you going to use to draw them towards you?
  • What do you want to be known for in your Personal Training Business?

Remember, great leaders know their destination and which team will take them there.  And if you want more satisfied customers, more referrals, more retention, less sales resistance and a happier Personal Training Business… then you MUST know who to recruit and detect and fire those you don’t want.  That’s how you strengthen your chain.

Dedicated in Accelerating Your Personal Training Business Every Step Of The Way
John Toumpakke

P.S. Leadership is not just for the corporate world.  Personal Trainers need it as much as anyone else.

P.P.S. After 5 months of constant begging – Nick finally got the interview he dreamt of.  He became one of William’s most successful clients.  And even though William is retired from Personal Training, he still sees and trains Nick even to this day.

P.P.P.S. If you have any group Personal Training ideas and strategies you’d like to share – your comments are always welcome 🙂

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John Toumpakke for years has been helping Personal Trainers build marketing systems and business positioning strategies - turning regular PT's into gurus of their industry. His brand PT Power Club is known as the provider for advanced Niche marketing solutions for Personal Trainers and has developed new and unique systems helping trainers find and develop their own fitness niche. He coaches and trains a tightly, successful bound community of trainers teaching them how to stand out and dominate their competition through his powerful positioning strategies. PT Power Club’s goal is to teach and coach Personal Trainers across Australia on how to truly find their unique status within their community and eliminate all competition.


  1. Like the last commenter, I would love to have so many clients that I could just fire them without feeling regret.

  2. Just last week I got the confidence to ‘fire’ my first client because she was giving me the shi$ts! it felt so damn good!!! Thanks for your article John 🙂

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