Home Personal Training Business Foundations How To Handle Your Late Personal Training Clients

How To Handle Your Late Personal Training Clients

“He who rises late never does a good days work.”
– Proverb

Your Personal Training business always revolves around dealing with late clients.  Personal Trainers suffer from this dilemma from day 1 and most just accept it until it slowly eats them away.

Fact: Clients are late because Personal Trainers teach ’em that it’s O.K. to be overdue.  Most PT’s don’t have the confidence to confront their clients… and as a result end up with a bad Personal Training business where clients run the show and as a result – end up with poor results.      

Dealing with late clients is always an issue many PT’s still have challenges with.

Personal Trainers usually fall into 3 general ‘traps’ when it comes to dealing with late clients.

They are:

  1. Ignoring it – hoping the problem will go away or worried they may offend their clients if they confront them about it
  2. Asking ‘why’ they’re late only to be frustrated with the response and
  3. ‘Believing’ their clients excuses each time and hoping they’ll eventually change


The problem with ignoring it.

Albert Einstein couldn’t of said it better…  

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

The cause of clients who are constantly late is usually caused by a lack of communication on the trainers part.  Therefore, lack of communication or ‘ignoring it’ won’t fix the problem.  Ignoring it is what created the problem in the first place.

Also, when you don’t do anything about it, you are ‘teaching’ your clients that it’s O.K. to be late.  And you are sub-communicating that your time is not valuable.  Once clients sense this, they disrespect you, don’t listen and are less likely to achieve any results. 

Remember, you must portray a sense of authority and power towards your clients.  Don’t forget, one of the major reasons clients hire Personal Trainers is because clients lack confidence or know-how in their physical or mental ability.  They lack control and most of the time lack motivation. 

They look up to you for guidance.  For strength.  For Motivation.  As soon as you show that you don’t possess any of those qualities, they’ll lose trust in you and quietly drift away.  They might go to another trainer, or believe Personal Trainers are ‘useless…’ that’s not something you’ll want to portray.

Why asking ‘why’ doesn’t work

Let’s go back to your school days…  More than likely there was probably a student who always came late.  Whether it was 3,4 or 5 mins late, there was always that ‘one’ student.

How did the teachers usually deal with it…?

They’ll say something like…


The student would reply with an ‘excuse’ and take a seat.  Then the same thing would happen the next day.

Remember, clients know they are late.  As they’re travelling to see you, and realise they’re late, they’re looking at the time and saying to themselves…”What logical excuse can I make up that can fool my trainer…?”

And as soon as you see them and ask ‘why’ they’re late, they shoot out their excuse expecting you to understand and forgive them.

Let’s get a few things straight here… Some excuses are legitimate.  We are talking about those clients who are constantly late and seem to have an excuse each time.

Asking ‘why’ they are late only forces your clients to make up excuses.  It hardly ever fixes the problem.

And this leads us into the 3rd general ‘trap’ most trainers fall into…

Believing their clients excuses as ‘valid’ and it’ll magically go away as soon as their…

  •        Flat battery recharges itself
  •        Younger brother/sister gives back their clothes or shoes they ‘stole’ the night before
  •        Car problems fix-up
  •        Favourite pet stops keeping them up all night
  •        Friends stop coming over and not leaving until 2am
  •        Dad stops parking their car behind theirs
  •        I’m sure you get the point now…

If you notice… In all these excuses, It’s always the ‘other’ person who is to blame.  It’s rare your client will ever blame themselves.  Clients find it ‘safer’ to blame someone else because you can’t logically hold anything against them.

And how to fix this ‘lateness’ thing…?


To avoid 95% of lateness, set the rules from the start.  This is usually done before your ‘official’ first session begins.

Some things that you can mention are…

  •        You will not wait any longer than 10 mins into their session.  If more than 10 mins pass, they lose their session
  •        If they’re running a little late, it’s important they call you and let you know – otherwise they lose their session (this shows they respect your time)
  •        You have a strict 24 or 48 hour cancellation policy
  •        No SMS or Email cancellations are allowed

Simple policies like these automatically sets the stage about the seriousness of your time.  And your time is not to be played with.

That usually whips them into gear from the very start.

How about if they are constantly 5-10 mins late at each session…?

Simply pull them aside and sit down with them.  Explain how their lateness is an issue and you are worried about their results. ( Always keep it about them…not you!)

You can say something like…

“Joe, it seems like you have been coming late for the past few weeks.  Even though we get a great workout in, I have to cut out 1 or 2 exercises just so we can finish on time.  You have great potential in achieving fantastic results.  I can see the drive and passion you have when you train.  Just imagine what we could do when we have the full 30 mins (or 45 mins or 1hr).  I’m afraid that we cannot achieve the results as fast as we had planned from the start.  I want to fix this.  How can we fix this…?”

Remember, keep it about them and their results. It’s never about you!

Once they realise it’s a genuine concern for both you and them, they will open up and change.  If they have a genuine issue as to why they’re late, come up with a few solutions and help them out.

They will appreciate it a great deal and respect you greatly for it.  They’ll have a deeper liking and respect for you like never before.

If they still have challengers coming on time… try putting them on a different time slot.  Note:  This only works if you have exhausted all other possibilities.  In most cases, the problem is not the ‘time…’ it’s them.  That’s why just offering different time slots from the start doesn’t always fix the issue.

If they have to meet strict time schedules like dropping kids off at school, relying on public transport or on someone else to drop them off…then changing times is appropriate.

In the worst case scenario, if you can’t help them in any way or you don’t have any free time slots…simply refer them on to another trainer who can better accommodate them.  You are still showing that you genuinely care for their well-being and as a result, your credibility sky-rockets.

Let’s recap:

When it comes to dealing with late clients.  Personal Trainers usually fall into 3 general ‘traps’

They are:

  1.   Ignoring it – hoping the problem will go away or worried they may offend their clients if they confront them about it
  2. Asking ‘why’ they’re late only to be frustrated with the response and
  3.  ‘Believing’ the clients excuses each time and hoping they’ll eventually change

Some  solutions are:

  •        Make sure your clients understand the way you work from the start.  Include your policies in your contract if you have to
  •        Pull them aside, sit down with them and express your concern about their lateness.  Keep it about them.  It’s never about you
  •        Only offer different time slots when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities and if ‘time’ is of legitimate concern
  •        If you can’t accommodate for a more convenient time slot, refer them onto another trainer who is more flexible

Dedicated to Accelerating Your PT Success Every Step Of The Way…

John Toumpakke


Discover more insights and Personal Training business secrets and detect lying clients by clicking here… 


  1. I could refer this video to nearly every trainer at my work. I think goodlife trainers have this problem more than anyone. Great article John. You don’t just tell people what to do, you teach them. I love that!

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