In my 22nd year as a personal trainer and coach, I know there’s no formula for guaranteed success.

That goes for client results AND financial rewards.

RECENT: Make it Sticky 

But what I have found is that all great personal trainers have things in common. And while none of us follow the exact same script, these are the habits we all share. This is the list I give my staff when they start one-on-one training at my gym. Their personality and expertise should shine through, but every private training session should include:

  1. A great greeting.
  2. Banter during the warm-up that includes a personal detail mentioned at the last meeting: “Hey, how was your daughter’s play?” Let the client know that you care about what happens in their life.
  3. Asking how the homework assigned at the last meeting played out.
  4. Briefly outlining the goals of the workout.
  5. Teaching skills and reinforcing them through repetition. Keep it positive and corrective. This is where you want 100 percent perfection on technique.  I also try to keep the client smiling during this portion — this is the frustrating part, where people can get down on themselves.
  6. Breaking out at least one scientific explanation, but keep it short. This isn’t just good salesmanship (“Look what I know!”), it’s also building a more knowledgeable clientele.
  7. Explaining the WHY of the workout. How is this helping them achieve their goals?
  8. Outlining the goals of the workout (i.e., anaerobic capacity) and your rationale for the weight chosen: “I know you can do more, but I’m concerned that grip strength will limit your performance, instead of work capacity. I want you to keep moving, so I’ve chosen a lighter weight.”
  9. Changing voice and inflection and posture and attitude depending on the type of workout. When a client is doing HIIT work, use shorter sentences, exclamation points, and no more technical instructions. Keep a commanding tone.
  10. After the conditioning piece: the sharing of water. Now’s the time to tell a story. “Last year, we had this tournament called FranFest. One lady lost a tooth. She kept going anyway. Hahaha….”
  11. Stretching and reviewing homework challenges for the week. Encourage contact by phone or logging workout results.
  12. “Any questions?”
  13. Booking the next appointment if it’s not already scheduled.
  14. Mentioning something coming up in the client’s life: “Enjoy painting that fence this weekend!” 

The very fact that it’s a checklist makes it imperfect. You have to be able to touch on all of these without seeming to refer to a spreadsheet-in-the-sky.

If you can’t do anything else:

  1. Make them laugh.
  2. Remember things that are important to the client.
  3. Tell them how this workout will help them with THEIR goals.
  4. Remember that you have to sell your service EVERY time they visit, not just the first time.

Got a formula? Please add it below.