Stop asking members and guests how they want to look. We have limited control over that. Instead, ask them how they want to feel.

This starts on day one with a technique known as motivational interviewing (MI). MI is a technique used by counselors, social workers and other health care providers to elicit "change talk" in their clients. Change talk is about getting clients to identify behaviors they need and/or want to change, as well as assessing their readiness for change. The process has four steps, known as OARS: open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening and summaries.

For clients who come to us because they want to change, the size-four bikini body is likely the only way they know how to define their goal due to society’s expectations. We need to find out if their goal is a memory or a dream for them and what feelings surround it. Do they want to feel beautiful, confident, sexy, strong? It’s not just about the look. For clients who come to us because they need to change, we must practice tough love. Despite the need, the client may not want to change. But if we can discover how the client wants to feel, feelings will sell much better than facts.   

One of the greatest lessons I learned while working on a political campaign is that it is much easier to change someone's acceptance of facts than it is to change their feelings about an issue they care about. Additionally, it is important to define yourself before someone else defines you. In today’s world of mass media consumption, it is easy to put yourself in a perceived box. Personal trainers are educators. It has been said that you are only as good at teaching as that which is understood by the student. Take that further. You must be understood and felt by the student, touching head and heart. New science on macronutrients and cardio intervals is published daily. Feelings of happiness, confidence and significance are felt for a lifetime, and it is our job to capitalize on those feelings.

Your trainers need to do a better job of meeting clients where they need to be met. Too often, trainers ask if the goal is to lose fat, gain muscle or get stronger. Sometimes it is just about feeling better, sleeping better and keeping up with the kids. The greatest gift of personal training is changing lives. If someone wants to change how they look on the outside, they can grab a magazine, lift some weights, buy new clothes, put on makeup and do their hair. But if they want to change their lives, how they feel about themselves and the world, it takes a team. Changing how a client feels cannot be achieved by following a magazine workout or by fumbling through a circuit. Helping the client understand that on day one is the key to a successful and sustainable relationship.