“How much personal information should I be sharing with my clients? Where does the line get drawn of personal vs professional?”

I’ll be honest – I have a group of my clientele that I consider to be my family. I genuinely love and care very deeply for these people. My wife and I invited these clients to our wedding. We wanted to spend the most important day of our life with them. Furthermore, we have been invited to their special occasions amongst spending quality time with them socially on the weekends. This kind of relationship takes quality time to build and is based solely upon trust. This trust has grown and continues to grow more powerful during each of our sessions together.

Personally, I pride myself on running a personal training and health company with the number one goal to always help my clients become happier and healthier physically and mentally. It’s this mentality that I always strive to help them create a better version of themselves. While personal training is indeed very “personal,” inadvertently you should never cross a line or become unprofessional. This behavior only leads to inappropriate tension and awkwardness, which doesn’t help the client progress to reach their goals. So, how did I go from training a first-time client into developing a bond in which they would become family while keeping it professional?

business and clients relationship

  1. Care – YOU HAVE TO CARE. This is the number one component of being a truly successful fitness professional. If you don’t care about your clients, even from your very first client, then please leave this industry. Each client has hired you to guide him or her towards reaching their fullest physical potential. If you find yourself checking your phone periodically, are distracted, are not truly present during your training sessions, and/or if you simply show no genuine interest in their progress, then you will hinder your client from obtaining their goals. Also, this behavior surely won’t gain their trust. If you don’t want to be there, why would your client? Moreover, how is your client supposed to care about their workouts when you don’t? Without care, there is no trust, and without trust, you have nothing.
  1. It’s Always About Them – Your clients are paying valuable money to train with you. You are in a service industry. Every session is theirs, therefore: always keep it about them. A first-time client doesn’t need to know about your spouse, friendship drama, or any of your personal problems – this session is for them and them only! Seriously, unless this new client asks open-ended questions about you, please keep it about them! Remember, over time you will certainly have your opportunity to share your own personal information when it’s appropriate, especially because your client will also grow to care about you, too. However, even when you develop that deeper trusting bond, it’s vital to still keep it about your clients. Simply put, it’s always about them.
  1. Keep it Real – Your clients are smart and savvy. Remember no one likes anyone who is insincere. They can see right through you if you are creating a fake and forced relationship. Please don’t force conversation if it doesn’t come naturally in your sessions, especially when first getting to know a new client. It’s best to always take the clients’ lead emotionally and provide them with the proper inspiration that is needed in their sessions. Conversely, sometimes little to no conversation at all doesn’t necessarily need to feel awkward with your clients. Such comfort between the two of you can actually be a sign of a very trusting and strong relationship! In any event, it’s crucial to always remain genuine, by keeping your focus, interest, and intentions honest and real. Keep in mind that each client’s personality is different and that each client has diverse needs. Make your conversation count: fewer truthful words are far better than a rant of trash.
  1. Integrity – I have saved the best and most crucial point for last. Integrity is something that is not negotiable. YOU MUST ALWAYS DISPLAY INTEGRITY WHILE RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS. Integrity is the foundation of trust, and only the best businesses (and relationships) are built on trust. Everything about your character should radiate with integrity. Personally, I don’t trust people who run their business without integrity and neither should you. Trainers who attempt to cheat their clients, or employ dishonest principles for their own benefit, should be exposed to the shameful people that they are. The foundation of our industry is to serve people towards better health. Breach this code and you not only disrespect your industry, and your client – but yourself.

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Shaun Zetlin

As the son of a professional bodybuilder, Shaun was exposed to weightlifting and exercise at a very young age. After overcoming his own physical limitations having been born with club feet and gross motor skills, Shaun made it his mission to share his passion and knowledge of proper fitness and health to help others meet their fitness goals.

For over ten years, Shaun has successfully run his own personal training business in the New York City Metro area. Able to relate and adapt to each individual, Shaun prides himself on developing exercise plans and nutritional menus to foster every client's fitness needs. His clientele ranges from the athlete, and senior citizen, to bodybuilder, and dancer. Shaun's specialties include: strength training, power techniques, corrective injury training, and core stability training.

In addition to the highly regarded Master Trainer status, Shaun is a certified personal trainer of the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). With NASM Shaun also holds specialized certifications in: Pre- and Post-Natal, Corrective Exercise Practices, Cardiovascular Weight Loss, Youth Training, Senior Citizen Training, Balance Training, Core Stabilization, and Self Myofascial Release (SMR). Additionally, Shaun is certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Sports Performance Nutrition Specialist, with training in the Female Athlete, Knee & Shoulder Rehabilitation, and Marathon Training. Shaun earned his Bachelors degree in English Literature and Writing from the University of Delaware.

Shaun's first full-length book, "Push-up Progression Workout for a Stronger Core" is currently available worldwide both in paperback and e-book formats. It was featured as one of three top books in 2013 for healthy living as selected by Dr. John Whyte of The Discovery Channel. His latest book, "Push-up Progression (2nd Edition)" has already achieved great success and notoriety in the world of fitness. It is currently featured in bookstores across the United States and United Kingdom in paperback and available wherever e-books are sold. Shaun has had a multitude of articles, program designs, and tips published within a variety of books, magazines, and on websites in the world of fitness and beyond including: Price World Publishing, Demos Medical Publishing, Livestrong, Rodale Books, OnFitness Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Brides Magazine, and GO: AirTran Magazine. Additionally, Fitness Professional Online recognizes Shaun as an "expert," answering questions for other fitness and health professionals.

Shaun also has media experience in both television and radio, ranging from fitness modeling, to hosting his own weekly radio fitness show.

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