When it comes to strength and conditioning, fitness training, or nutrition coaching, burnout among clients is often linked to a lack of motivation. So, what can you do about it? As a coach, you need to establish a coach-to-client relationship built on trust.

By making your relationships equally as important as the physical training, you can help your clients improve their mindset, strengthen their motivation, and optimize their success. Use these six strategies to take your coaching relationships from surface to successful.

1. Create a set of standards and follow them.
Everyone needs to stand for something, regardless of their environment. Create a set of standards that you expect yourself and your clients to uphold each day. Standards might include things like do your job, work hard, be attentive, or always put the team first. Post these standards where you and your clients can see them. It’s a great reminder to ensure you’re following the guidelines to reach your goals as a coach.

2. Be realistic and honest.
Most clients want to know what the magic potion is to create a positive difference in their life. The answer: There isn’t one. If it was as simple as a pill or exercise, everyone would do it. It’s your job as a coach to encourage clients to shift their mindset from finding a quick fix to putting in the work. Small changes lead to earned success over time. Letting your clients know that you’re in it for the long haul to help them succeed helps build a trusting relationship. A great way to do this is by sharing a game plan to help them reach their goals so they’re aware from the beginning what it will take to get there.

Sharing is caring. To create open communication, ask clients about their goals and struggles — and share your own as well.

Small changes lead to earned success over time. Letting your clients know that you’re in it for the long haul to help them succeed helps build a trusting relationship.

3. Put in excellent effort all the time.
From the minute your clients walk in the door until the close of business, you have to be at your best. While you should want this for yourself, it’s also good to remember that someone is always watching. Displaying consistent effort encourages clients to trust you and motivates them to try their best.

Worried about failure? Failure is inevitable. If you have a bad day or put together a mediocre program, don’t sweat it. Look at your mistake, evaluate why it happened, and do a better job tomorrow. When this type of slip happens in front of a client, it’s a great opportunity to lead by example. You’ll show that you can move on and try again. Sometimes that even means taking a step back or asking for help. Seeing each other struggle and supporting each other while overcoming failure builds trust and understanding.

Your clients get back what you put into their sessions, so it’s important to put in the work behind the scenes to improve your craft.

Dig deep into what drives you as a coach. The answer could be the key to your coach-to-client relationships.

4. Seek opportunities for self-improvement.
Are you the greatest coach ever? It probably depends on who you ask. But what matters is that you’re confident in your skills. Put in the effort with continuing education courses and conferences. With everything new you learn, your clients will reap the benefits. Even better, they’ll notice that you’re striving for your best and improving. When you’re chatting, share what you’ve been working on, and ask them what they’re doing outside of their time with you to improve. Over time, they’ll be more inclined to share with you because of this open communication.

5. Always show empathy.
When moving from client to client, remember that everyone is different. While many clients may see the end goal, they might lack the courage, motivation, or confidence to get there. Spend time getting to know your clients’ stories and trust will build. Gaining a better understanding of your clients can also help you personalize your approach, keep your coaching fresh, and build unique relationships.

6. Care for your client.
Research shows that coaching for intrinsic reasons (love, passion, joy) can be associated with better outcomes. Dig deep into what drives you as a coach. The answer could be the key to your coach-to-client relationships. Once you’ve pinpointed what drives you, use it to show your clients that you care. This should be a top priority. A few simple ways to show your clients that you care include being early, staying late, keeping in contact via text or email between training sessions, providing extra sessions, doing extra work behind the scenes, asking about their family, and making sure they’re getting your best.

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