Give Your Client The Most Incredible Training Experience

Two Ways To Be An Awesome Personal Trainer

Personal Training isn’t easy, especially at first. I went home crying on the first day!

Luckily, I stayed the course and managed to somewhat deliver on many of the promises I made too hastily to people I was simply amazed were even listening to my advice.

Then for some reason many of these people kept coming back.

6 years later and some of these people are still coming back to me despite working in a completely different city.

What are the secrets?

1. High Five/ dramatically Handshake Everyone You Can At Every Deserved Opportunity

Handshakes, fist bumps and high fives to everyone!

When are they appropriate?

•  When someone hits a personal best

•  When someone has turned up to a session under next to impossible circumstances

•  When they’ve made progress in a particular area or habit forming activity

•  Awkward situations as detailed below!

As a Personal Trainer we’ve all been there: When you are training a client who has paid for your undivided attention, but then another client is walking past you to start their own session!

And you are counting their reps!

And it’s only rep 6.5 out of 12!!

But you can’t blank another client like a rude person!!!


You can silently give the client a fist bump or high 5. Give them a silent nod and they’ll know you are busy yet they know you’ve made an effort to acknowledge their existence in a familiar way.

Class Situations

If you have the confidence to do this in a group setting you can even get a class to high 5 each other.

Partner warm-ups are great at getting a class of strangers to be suddenly laughing and giggling.

My favourite partner high five drill as to get one of them in a plank position on their hands while the other partner has to give the other as many high fives as possible in 60 seconds.

Clients interactions AND a great warm-up!


Benefits of the high five/epic fist bump

  • They show trust.
  • They show you recognised their effort.
  • They show you think they’re awesome.
  • They make clients feel spectacular.

In short…

They make people happy.

Happy people come back for more!

The Keys To The Kingdom

The absolute key is making the high 5 or fist bump or whatever relate to health. I can’t be too ‘chummy’ otherwise you lose the professional relationship based on getting clients the results they are paying for.

So we use them in the best way possible. We are using them to bring fun, appreciation of hard work and making positive changes to their lifestyle; without crossing the line between trainer and ‘gym friend.’

Don’t give them out without having a reason to do so otherwise they will lose some of the magic.

Gym Floor Task: High five or fist bump 10 people that have earned it this week

“But Chris!”

“I’m not a high five person!”

Do not fear!

You can still use the class situation stuff we used above. This doesn’t require you to be a ‘high five’ kind of guy.

You could show your appreciation of hard work by using various methods.

Some that I’ve seen work well are:

•  Certificates when hitting personal bests, goals or habits

•  Carefully written Facebook posts featuring clients making positive changes to their life

•  Personal emails or calls after a particularly good session

•  Achievement boards in your gym or studio

•  A heartfelt ‘thank you for working so hard for me’

2. Be Understanding In The Right Way- You Will Train People With Eating Disorders, Severe Anxiety Disorder and Depression

  • Work on habit forming
  • Refer out when you need to.

If a client has a problem or a bad habit or can’t stick to a plan the answer is never ‘just try harder’ or ‘just do it.

They may need to ‘try harder’ or ‘just get it done’ but you can’t frame it like that very often. Responding like this makes it unlikely that they’ll ever open up to you again because they think you are a dick.

It will also make finding potential harmful triggers and bad habits far more difficult because they won’t ever want to tell you about them again.

When someone has a problem you should make them feel at ease for opening up to you; maybe even thank them for going into such detail because it will help you to deal with a client that has had a similar issue in the past.

Empathise with them.

Show them how awesome they are doing when they do great things by implementing high fives and fist bumps like we discussed earlier.


When you realise a problem is present agree that it needs resolving. A client won’t resolve something if they don’t actually think is a problem.

An example might be a client is eating a packet of biscuits as they prepare their evening meal.

If their goal is fat loss then the high likelihood is that this is a problem.

Get on the same page as your client then help them to find a solution.

In these cases I like to refer them to and set them a positive habit forming homework to come up with ‘alternative behaviour’ approaches.

An example might be:

‘When I stare longingly into the fridge hoping to find magical pizza delights I will go for a walk with a bottle of water for at least 15 minutes.’


‘If i find myself in a social occasion where drinking is expected them I will alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.’ (Thank you John Romaniello for this dynamite trick!)[1]

Positive and progressive habit forming is an excellent way to GUIDE people to a place where they themselves have the tools to achieve any number of their goals whether fitness or otherwise.

It isn’t to babysit them every step of the way.

And once again, when someone makes habit forming progress be sure you show them in some way that you appreciate the effort it has taken to make that positive change.

Rewards and acknowledgement help to nail a habit down because it is making the client feel good!

Another common population you’ll train are people who suffer from anxiety, depression or the magical holy grail combination of the two!


In fact some sources say 9.7 out of every 100 people suffer from a mixture of anxiety and depression each year.[2]

The actual number is probably much higher.

You are going to train people with anxiety and depression.

  • Talk to them, learn to recognise the signs that they may be suffering more than usual.
  • Refer them to a therapist if they haven’t seen anyone yet or gently remind them to revisit a therapist if they are suffering more than usual.

I recommend they check out various anxiety forums and Facebook groups for some mutual support and to hopefully see that they aren’t alone in their suffering.


High fiving someone depressed for just managing to get themselves out of the house shows you understand the depths the illness can take you. Unless body contact makes them feel even more anxious. If someone isn’t a high five person, it doesn’t work to force it! 

Seeing a client for the first time who is anxious and telling them “it must have been so difficult to come in here for the first time, well done, I know lots of people with anxiety who couldn’t do that” shows you understand how difficult the illness can be sometimes.   

Keeping these people training and moving can literally be the difference between life and death. 

A top tip is to read up on a few mental health issues so you can empathise with them.

And that will be your final gym homework from today’s article.

Gym Floor Homework: Read Upon Mental Disorders Including Anxiety and Depression

This will not only help the client but it will also show them you care.  

Remember you probably aren’t a qualified psychologist or doctor so the first thing on your mind in these cases must be to refer out to a qualified professional.

Anxiety and depression are just two mental health issues you may face in yours or your clients’ lives.

You may encounter many more.

Research these in exactly the same way, empathise and agree on a path to ease the journey from A to B.

And when anyone makes any progress GIVE THEM A GREAT BIG HIGH FIVE FROM ME. Unless you or your client aren’t a high five kind of person of course!

Your business and your clients will thank you over and over again.

Author Biography










Chris Kershaw is a Leeds/Wakefield based Personal Trainer who specialises in bringing shy, skinny guys into the gym for the first time to build confidence, muscle and strength.

He currently works for Gains, Glutes and Glitter,  Primal Health and has a blog at Chris Kershaw Strength

He is a former Natural Bodybuilder and currently a national level powerlifter.


[1] On Tattoos, Semicolons, and (near) Suicidal Depression.

[1] How to Drink Alcohol Without Compromising Your Progress – John Romaniello.

[2] Mental health facts and statistics.

The Next Step

Product picture

11 KEY Diet Mistakes You Should Avoid

"Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." We've been there, tried it and failed...more times that we'd care to admit. This download details the 11 mistakes it took us 10+ years to overcome. You can gain instant access and learn from our mistakes to transform your methods today.

One response to “How to be an Awesome Trainer – Guest Post by Chris Kershaw

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Content