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4 Tips for Stronger Client Connections

Being a great coach with a great training business means having the ability to build strong interpersonal connections. Although many trainers and coaches are content to exist in the sciencey (not a word) world of training X’s and O’s, reality is that all that knowledge won’t get anyone very far if no one wants to be around them. The clichéd adage is still true—nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.


We’re huge on practicing the psychosocial skills that build strong relationships and strong businesses—they’re a big part of the Strength Faction program. We use them to create an experience for our Factioneers that they, in turn, transfer into their everyday coaching and client interactions. Experiential learning is the bees knees, folks.


The next round o’ Strength Faction doesn’t start until September—and waiting that long to build better client relationships would be silly. We’ve put together four, actionable tips to get your interpersonal skill building on the up and up.


Unconditional Positive Regard


“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

-Carl Rogers


Carl Rogers, may he rest in peace, was one of the most influential humanistic psychologists. He coined the term Unconditional Positive Regard—which means accepting people no matter what they say or do. (That definition was paraphrased for you from Wikipedia. You’re welcome.)


People need to feel safe and seen before they give a shit about how effective your training systems are. And creating an unconditionally positive environment is step number one. It starts with acknowledging the fact that everyone has their shit—everyone. You are included in this everyone proclamation. Once you accept the fact that you’re kind of fucked up, it’s way easier to drop the judgmental guard and be unconditionally positive with people, regardless of their statements and actions.


So, accept your own shit and move on. Then you can see people as people and not as their quirks.




A few weeks ago Chris received a note from one of our gym clients at Beyond Strength Performance NOVA. Mostly the note was general housekeeping stuff—we’re starting a new program and that she was considering joining—but she threw in a compliment that struck Chris and me.


She mentioned, I’m paraphrasing, that she was so drawn to our gym because of our humility, our acknowledgement that we still have a lot to learn and our commitment to improving every day.


It’s not something we have to think about—it’s just who we are—so when someone notices that, and mentions that’s what draws them to us, it stopped us in our tracks for a minute.


The truth is people connect, and want to connect, with those that can help them but not berate them with obnoxious fact spewing. People like people that are open and honest. Committing to personal, professional and business development, and taking transparent action on each every day, shows clients that you give a shit. Admitting that you don’t have all of the answers is the first step on the path to being able to find them. People are drawn to that shit.


Exist in the Interrogative (Ask More Questions)


Our main goal for our clients is for them not to need us. If we educate, support and nurture as we should, they’ll come a time for each client to spread their wings and let the eagle fly!It turns out that helping people find their own answers facilitates that process.


People also want to be seen and acknowledged as worthwhile. They want to feel that their input counts and that they’re recognized as intelligent homo sapiens sapiens. What better way for people to feel seen and heard than to ask them a question?


Asking questions keeps clients involved in their own coaching process. In effect, they coach themselves. Our job is to create the context so they understand what questions to ask us and can internalize meaning from the questions we ask them. It’s easier for people to connect when they feel involved, when they have some ownership. Asking questions is the simplest way to give clients ownership of their training process.


Coach to Their Personality


Some folks want to be hand-held—others want to feel like they’re completely in control of their training destiny. Others still just want to know why they are doing what they’re doing. We must pay attention to peoples’ personalities and meet them where they’re at with our coaching.


If someone needs a lot of guidance, be nurturing until they feel comfortable with independence. Give the folks that need greater levels of autonomy greater levels of autonomy—ask them even more questions than you would other clients. And if a client asks you a ton of questions, get excited and answer those sum bitches! Once they know why they’re doing something they’ll attach to it and kick ass. But if we’re negligent in our attention, and we try to coach people in ways that don’t align with their personalities, we’ll miss the chance to connect to them with our coaching.


Get Out There and Connect!


People long for connection in all facets of their lives. If you’re the best trainer in your area at building interpersonal connections, and maintaining them, you’ll have a better chance to get people results and, if you so choose, build the business that you want.



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3 Responses to “4 Tips for Stronger Client Connections”

[…] 4 Tips for Stronger Client Connections - Todd Bumgardner provides some excellent tips for anyone – especially the personal trainer – who is in the business of dealing with people. […]

By Chris - 11 July 2016 Reply

Todd great article. Any resources you recommend for building better and stronger connections with your clients?

By Todd Bumgardner - 5 August 2016 Reply

Hi Chris!

Thanks for the kind words, man. I’d recommend any of Carl Rogers work. As well as Why We Do What We Do By Deci. Also any info that you can find on self-determination theory.