Did you know that a first impression only takes seven seconds to make? The instant imprint you make on people relies heavily on body language. As a personal trainer, you may know a lot about the human body and fitness, but how much do you know about what your body language communicates and what you project to the world (and potential clients)? It’s crucial in those first seven seconds to help prospective clients feel connected and comfortable. Here are a few body language tips that have helped ensure my success as well as build my fitness business.
Whether you’re having your picture taken or meeting someone face to face for the first time, your posture must always be welcoming. You should avoid resting your hands on your hips or crossing your arms, as these stances suggest subconsciously that you’re defensive. Smile, stand tall, and use gestures that welcome people in as soon as they see you. Remember, your job is to make your clients feel welcome and ready to concentrate on the workout ahead, regardless of what happened to them before they got to you – and that can be done with something as simple as posture.
You don’t want to stare someone down, but you also don’t want to avoid looking in their eyes. There is a definite balance that successful personal trainers must find in order to make a good impression and put a client at ease.
A good rule of thumb for eye contact is the 10-6 rule. When you’re within 10 feet of your client, look them in the eye and acknowledge them with a gesture. When you’re within six feet, engage them in small talk. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering; a simple “Good morning” should suffice.
Think About Your Hands
When you’re holding things in your hands they often can act as barriers between you and the people around you. It may make clients feel as if you aren’t fully engaged with them. So, put the clipboard down between notes and keep those hands free – that means cell phones too!
Also, never bring food or drinks to a training session with a client. Their training time should be all about them, so plan your meals and snacks accordingly. In my book, Your Fitness Career, I get more in-depth about how to use your hands appropriately in a personal training setting.
Touch is a powerful thing and as a personal trainer, there will be times you will need to make physical contact with a client. But aside from adjusting their form with physical touch cues, you should also think of encouraging ways to touch them. When they’ve done something for the first time or reached a personal best, a well-timed fist bump, high five, or pat on the back is a positive way to support them. It enhances the bond you have with your clients, too.
Using positive body language will help you to find success as a personal trainer. It’s a simple way to more fully engage with not only your clients but everyone in your life. Apply these lessons both in and out of the gym for better trust, rapport, and communication with those around you.
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