Motivating Clients With Innovative Exercises

To retain clients, personal trainers must understand how to motivate them. Motivation begins at the very first meeting, and continues with innovative training that keeps them captivated.

During the initial goal-planning session, be up front with your clients and inquire about their interests. Ask In what hobbies do you participate? or What would be fun and exciting for you in a workout? This way you can reach into your fitness toolbox and choose exercises and routines geared toward their interests. For example, if your client is interested in sports, you can incorporate fun and challenging sports moves or drills into the program.

When goal planning with your clients, it's important that you set small measurable goals that lead toward the overall goal. Then reward your clients as they reach each smaller goal. This gives them positive affirmations along their fitness journey with you.

Finding the Motivation


Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two methods that clients rely on to get them through their workouts. Intrinsic motivation occurs when a client participates in his workout for the challenge and enjoyment of it, thus being internally driven. Unfortunately, many clients are not intrinsically motivated and lose their interest quickly.

Extrinsic motivation is the more common type of motivation. It has nothing to do with personal enjoyment. With extrinsic motivation, external factors drive the clients to work out, such as being told by a doctor that they need to exercise.

The good news is that there are many variation tools that you can use to help keep your clients interested, regardless of whether they rely on extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. The key is to keep educating yourself by learning numerous exercise variations. This means learning to become innovative with your exercises and routines.

Exercise Tool Time


There are many externally geared tools you can use to add variety to a routine. Swiss balls, elastic tubing, slideboard training, medicine balls and balance-type apparatus are some tools you can include to make exercise more fun. These exercise tools can add the skill and balance crucial to everyday activities.

Circuit-Training Tricks


Innovative routines can also help alleviate boredom. You can incorporate circuit training, cardio resistance and sport drills. Cicuits are 10 to 15 predetermined exercises that your client will perform one after another with little rest between sets (usually 30 seconds). If you're planning on doing two to three sets of these circuits, you can add variety by having each exercise performed for 90 seconds during the first circuit, 60 seconds during the second and 30 seconds on the last circuit.

Cardio-resistance circuits in-corporate cardiovascular and resistance exercise during a workout. An example could be performing one set of each of the following: chest press, lat pulldown, shoulder press, biceps curl, triceps extension. Follow this with three to five minutes of stair climbing or jumping rope. Then switch back to resistance exercises like leg extension, leg curl and calf raises.

Sports drills allow you to break up the monotony by adding some sports moves and drills. Use a medicine ball for a chest catch and toss exercise against a wall. Or mimic sports moves like a tennis directional lunge, stepping out to the left, center and right.

Safety First


One piece of advice I often teach trainers is to never sacrifice safety at the expense of adding a new and challenging exercise. Personal trainers must employ the risk/benefit rule to any exercise. Simply put: Never have the possible risk of injury outweigh the potential benefit of the exercise.

Motivating clients means tapping into the many innovative resources available to you. Add extrinsic variety by incorporating new exercises, changing the exercise order, adding balance apparatus and modifying the way they perform an exercise. Understanding what motivates your clients by finding what they consider to be fun and challenging is an important factor because it fuels their intrinsic desires, developing their inner drive. Remember that if they have fun while working out, they'll continue to work with you.

Robert Garza, president of Fitness Performance Centers in Deerfield, Ill., offers Innovative Exercise Workshops for CECs and can be reached at (847) 562-43886 or FPCseminars@aol.com .


Ways to Motivate

  • Add new and innovative exercises periodically.

  • Incorporate sports moves and drills into the routine.

  • Reward the short- and long-term goals attained by your client.

  • Alternate using cardiovascular and resistance equipment in the same workout.

  • On occasion, work out with your client for friendly competition.

  • Introduce new exercise tools like medicine balls, tubing and Swiss balls.

  • Throw in cardio bouts of boxing and/or kickboxing moves.

  • Do combination exercises like ball squats with dumbbell biceps curls.

  • Switch up the routine's sequence or exercise order.

  • Do a series of circuit-training exercises.

  • Have clients perform their repetitions for time instead of repetitions.

  • Do odd number repetitions in the sets (e.g., seven, nine).

  • Keep yourself motivated to inspire your client to be motivated as well.