Personal Trainers: Motivating Clients?

How to motivate clients?… alternatively… How can I create the conditions within which clients will motivate themselves?
The following notes are based on Psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan model of the key components that drive intrinsic motivation, called ‘self-determination theory’.
Extrinsic rewards are a great short term motivator. Praise and recognition are an important  part of a PT’s approach to encouraging clients. However, physical incentives such as discounts, vouchers etc can be costly and counter productive in the long term.
Intrinsic rewards are strong motivators. Client’s feel good about themselves, understanding ‘why’ they are taking part, how it helps them and how that leads to an improvement in the broader world.
PT’s are good at explaining what exercise help which muscles and why that helps the particular client. This should be related to the clients physical, mental and social goals in the context of themselves, their work, family life and local community.
Clients need autonomy. As well as understanding ‘why’, client’s need to have some choice about how they get to their goals. PT’s understand the exercises needed to help clients reach their goals, however, seldom allow clients choice. Often there are several exercises which will get the client to the desired outcome. It is the job of the PT to guide the client but also allow them to choose. Each client will differ, from deciding on specific exercises eg squats, to deciding on type of activity eg HIIT, LIT, strength…
The last key point to intrinsic motivation is competency. Show clients the path to mastering an exercise. Ensure praise is given for progress rather than outcomes. Providing growth feedback without formal assessments eg share details of progress rather than using tests. Maybe clients will have learning goals such as mastering squat techniques, being able to complete a push up…
Both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators should be in the PTs repertoire. A useful tool for intrinsic motivation is RAMP, see the poster image 🎁