THE “LEARN TO COACH” SERIES: Client Communication

April 21, 2021

Written in conjunction with StrengthCoach Ep. 310

In our last episode of Learn To Coach, Brendon Rearick discussed progressions and regressions and how to pick the right exercises depending on your client’s skill level and experience.

For this week’s segment, we’re going to switch gears a bit and talk about client communication.

While we can often put the technical aspects of training like exercise selection and programming into systems and neat little categories to make our lives easier, client communication and the soft skills of coaching are often much harder to quantify and systemize because humans are complex and every client is unique.

Developing clear and consistent communication between you and your client is vital to a healthy training relationship but it can often take some time to figure out how you and your client communicate best.

Like I mentioned, every client is unique in their communication style, their history and their motivation so taking the time to develop a relationship and understand how you can best communicate with them is really important.

It’s important to understand right off the bat what is motivating your client to come and see you. Although many of us go to the gym, we all show up there with different motivators and desires that push us in the door.

Are you working with a young athlete that is passionately pursuing a sporting goal?

Or middle aged woman who is there to rehab low back injury?

Or an older man who simply is there because he enjoys the social aspect of going to the gym and wants to feel a little better in the process?

How you communicate and motivate these clients will be completely different. 

Maybe with the young motivated athlete you can coach them a bit more aggressively in order to push them hard towards their goal. Athletes who have strong levels of intrinsic motivation often respond well to challenges and hard coaching.

One the flip side, with the woman rehabbing her low back injury you may need to lead with more patience and empathy around her pain and rehab experience in order to empower her through the training process. For the client, injury and rehabilitation can be especially challenging psychologically and as a coach it’s important that we provide support and assurance to help pull them through the process rather than push them.

Finally, the older gentleman we mentioned earlier may just enjoy the social aspect of your training session and isn’t as invested in getting really fit or strong but simply just wants to come and workout a couple days per week. It’s important to remember that not every client wants to get super jacked or fit. Some people just want to show up to the gym, check the box and hang out with their friends. As a coach, it’s important to respect that and meet them where they’re at while still providing high quality coaching

As coaches we have to be personality chameleons, constantly adjusting and modifying our communication style and approach to every client who comes through the door. If we are too rigid in our communication style we are likely to turn clients off from coming to the gym and push them away. 

As a coach continually audit your communications with your clients.

Are you on the same wavelength? Do you need to lighten up or intensify? Do you need to educate and inform or shut up and listen? Remember that different clients and situations will call for different approaches. If you can successfully adjust your communication dimmer switch to accommodate the preferred communication style of the client you can bet that you will have a long and successful career as a coach.


Our Certified Functional Strength Coach Level 1 Online Course is designed to provide you with the same experience you’d get attending our live Level 1 workshop. Complete with the same pre-workshop materials, our Online Course includes a ‘Virtual Live Workshop’, where you will follow a CFSC instructor through an entire Level 1 Workshop complete with instruction, demonstration and question and answer as if you were spending the day at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. Keeping with our rigorous practical standards, all enrollees will be required to complete an online exam and a coaching practical featuring video and open ended questions to complete their certification.

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