9 Ways To Motivate Your Personal Training Clients

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Struggling to motivate PT clients? Or perhaps you’re already doing a great job and you’re just looking to up your game.

Whatever your situation, we’re about to give you 9 ways to motivate your personal training clients in every session to ensure that they reach their goals in a quick and sustainable way!

Check out OriGym's Level 4 Nutrition Course to boost your income as a personal trainer and download our course prospectus to see what else we offer.

#1 - Use Personal Trainer Software

use software to motivate pt clients

One of the best ways to motivate personal training clients is to connect with them via a savvy piece of software. If you’re not sure what this is, you can check out our list of the best PT software here.

Essentially, most software allows you to connect with clients in a way that you can’t when you’re training them in the gym.

It exhibits your willingness to connect with them outside of training hours, as well as granting your clients access to content such as nutrition plans and workout routines that you’ve suggested to them (rather than giving it to them on a piece of paper that they could lose before your next session!).

Software that allows clients to view goals you’ve set for them is also quite appealing in the sense they can view them on their mobile phone, whether they’re at home and trying to stay motivated with their nutrition or visiting the gym and need a reminder of what they should focus on.

Another way fitness management software is a great motivator for clients is it usually gives them the opportunity to leave feedback for you.

An example of a piece of software that uses this feature would be ‘OneFitStop’, which allows you to collect feedback from your clients and ultimately improve your business as well as communication with your clients, as the software comes with an integrated messaging system.

As well as this, the clients can view their individual progress which motivates them further and inspires them to continue to interact with you and push forward with their goals. If this doesn’t drive them to beat their personal best, what will?

#2 - Set Short Term Goals 

set goals to motivate your personal training clients graphic

It is crucial to set both long and short-term goals for your clients. It’s straightforward to set a long-term goal to lose 30lbs of fat or gain 10lbs of muscles, but these goals often take a long period of time to accomplish…

If the client was only tracking this single long-term goal over a 6-month period, then they would surely suffer from a loss of motivation. It’s only natural that this would happen, as we are all human and there’s only a small percentage of people who are motivated enough to see a goal like this through to the end!

To avoid this when learning how to motivate PT clients, try setting smaller goals like losing 3 or 5lbs of fat by the end of the month.

This will help the client keep track of how close they’re getting to their overall goal, and it will seem much more attainable rather than something that is on the horizon. 

The best way of doing this would involve speaking and listening to the client and learning everything that you can about their goals in training with you!

#3 - Setting Realistic Time-Driven Goals

set time-driven goals to motivate pt clients

Following on from our last point, realistic and time-driven goals are definitely a great way of motivating PT clients both during sessions and away from the gym.

Let’s face it, there is no point in setting goals for your client that you know they aren’t going to reach. You need to find a fine balance between setting goals that are realistic that they can achieve short-term, or within a certain time frame.

When your client sees significant changes in their body and their fitness during the time frame that you’ve given them (or the one that they’ve given you to get them into shape!), their overall motivation will soar.

Setting time-driven goals with your clients is a must, as otherwise things can become a little vague and it can be hard to measure whether they’re on target or not.

As soon as you bring time into the equation, a sense of urgency is created, which can be incredibly motivating for clients who want to make significant progress in their fitness journey as soon as possible!

A time-driven goal could be to perform 20 push-ups non-stop within 8 weeks (for someone who has never been able to manage 1 rep), to be able to run 5k non-stop within 6-8 weeks, or to be able to bench press 140lbs within 2 months, etc.

You should base these goals off what will be realistic for your client, depending on their current level of fitness and how many sessions they have with you per week, as well as other factors.

Setting the bar low at first is a great way to ensure that your clients stay motivated, as it makes it much less likely for them to fail and their motivation will soar if they have success after success! You can then incrementally increase the expectations of each goal that you set for them, which makes the gruelling task of sticking to a new routine much more exciting for them.

They will be less likely to fail this way, and much more likely to succeed with regular time-driven goals alongside their overall long-term goals.

#4 - Creating Accountability

box ticked graphic

Making clients accountable for their progress and their downfalls is incredibly important when learning how to motivate personal training clients. If you’re too lenient with them over this aspect of their training, then how do you expect them to smash their goals?

One of our favourite ways of creating an element of accountability is to assign homework to your clients.

No matter how many sessions you have together each month, your clients will still have a significant number of hours free to exercise whenever they wish. That’s a lot of time to be accountable for, and you should do everything to can to make them aware of this!

Alongside the tailored workout plan that you assign to them, give them extra tasks to perform that will accelerate their progress.

This could be to do some weighted pull-ups before they leave the gym each night, or a triceps dip challenge alongside their weight training to build more upper-body strength.

As we mentioned earlier, another idea is to incorporate some accountability for your clients by investing in a good personal trainer software. This will mean that you can track their progress, both during your sessions and in the workouts that they perform in their own time.

You will both be able to monitor their progress within each session, and therefore get a good idea of how to tweak their plan if they don’t reach their goals. This holds them accountable and adds a healthy amount of pressure, so they’ll be less likely to slip up in the future and be motivated to make any necessary changes!

#5 - Talk to Your Clients

talk to motivate your personal training clients graphic

Leading on from the point that we just made, it’s incredibly important to have a good relationship with your client and keep up a good level of valuable communication. 

When we say valuable communication, we don’t mean asking them how their week has been at the beginning of each session. As friendly as that seems, it certainly doesn’t cut it as being ‘above and beyond’ what is required of you.

What we do mean by communicating with your clients in a valuable way is:

  • Making an effort to learn what their goals in personal training are
  • Reviewing their goals often
  • Providing them with constructive feedback (on each session and overall progress)
  • Communicating professionally outside of sessions (software is a good method of doing this)

Failure to do these things could certainly result in a loss of motivation for your clients, or even worse; they could give up on their personal training journey altogether.

This is a lose-lose situation, as it is bad for the client’s personal health (which you should genuinely care about if you’re in the industry for the right reasons), plus your own business.

Talking to your clients regularly helps with retention and will make them more likely to stick with their training, meaning you can make money as a personal trainer both long term and short term.

#6 - Stay Positive

how to motivate pt clients stay positive graphic

Everyone has bad days, which is completely understandable, so there will be times when you’re not on top form during sessions with your clients.

However, when learning how to motivate personal training clients, you’ll soon learn that a positive attitude is the best place to start.

Think about it this way; if you went to a PT session and the trainer was creating a negative atmosphere by coasting through without giving you any real motivation and not seeming ‘present’, you’d definitely be hesitant to train with them again.  

Not only this, but it’s likely that one session like this could steer you from your fitness goals!

A career in personal training is about finding the best ways to motivate personal training clients, so that they will ultimately reach their goals faster and have everything to thank you for! 

You can’t motivate others without having a positive attitude yourself, so this is something to consider if you’re new to personal training or you’re looking to expand your business. Even if you’re having a bad day, try to clear your mind and put the negativity to one side.

As a personal trainer, you need to be the most motivated person in the room. It’s all about positive vibes. If you’re down in the dumps, then your clients will mirror this. This will affect their results and your business if word spreads (and trust us, it does!).

Want some quick tips on how you can be more motivating? It’s not as hard as you think. It involves small but easy steps like the following:

  • Getting yourself into a good mindset pre-session (apps like Headspace can work wonders for this!)
  • Greeting clients with an upbeat and positive attitude
  • Keeping a smile on your face during the session
  • Searching for ways to give your clients honest yet constructive feedback (rather than giving nonconstructive criticism) – this will gain trust

You’re there to help your clients to loosen up and leave any doubts or anxiety about their progress at the door. Keep them motivated by having infectious positivity!

#7 - Make Sure Your Workouts Are Fun & Challenge Your Clients  

create goals to motivate your pt clients

We can’t help but ask the question; would you workout if it wasn’t at least partially fun?

The answer may be yes for you, especially if you’ve always had the ability to push through gruelling exercises to reach your goals. However, for those who are new to exercise or seeking a personal trainer to improve their current routine, it’s usually a different story.

According to, inactivity is a major issue here in the UK. From a study that they conducted, they found out the following:

Around 1 in 3 (34%) of men and 1 in 2 (42%) of women are not active enough for good health.

If someone is hiring you as their personal trainer, it’s likely that they’re enlisting you to help them in finding ways to make working out engaging and entertaining, so that it ultimately becomes something that they enjoy. This way, they can avoid becoming part of the above statistic!

Currently, exercise has a lot to compete with. With the rise in digital media and the entertainment industry in general, going for a run around the park just doesn’t match up to the latest Netflix documentary or defeating rival teams on FIFA… 

What makes your job as a PT so rewarding is that you have the power to step in and change the fate that the world is facing.

To do this, not only do you need to be incredibly motivating for your clients, but you must ensure that your workouts are tailored to each client and their personal preferences in order to make them fun.

Once you’ve found out what works well for your client in terms of keeping them entertained during your sessions, take this information and run with it! Create challenges using their favourite exercises mixed with some difficult variations and watch them hit their targets again and again.

In their study on sedentary behaviour in British youth, Yahya Al-Nakeeb et al state the following:

Despite the multiple health gains associated with a physically active lifestyle, there are high levels of inactivity across the UK, with participation in PA declining significantly with age in both males and females.

It’s clear from this statement that one of the biggest issues when it comes to the declining number of people who participate in physical activity is that exercise isn’t perceived as fun. Otherwise, people would do it more often due to the ‘multiple health gains’!

If you manage to make exercise fun for your clients by teaching them how to challenge themselves and keep their workouts varied, you also show them how to make exercise sustainable for life (and fight back against the unfavourable statistics).

Want some ideas for challenges that you can introduce into your sessions? Check out our suggestions below!

CHALLENGE 1: The 20/10 Challenge

Complete all exercises as one circuit. Rest 30 seconds in between circuits. Complete for a total of 5 rounds.

20 Squats
10 Renegade Row Push Ups
20 Front Squats
10 Renegade Row Push Ups
20 Front Raises
10 Renegade Row Push Ups
20 Forward Lunges
10 Renegade Row Push Ups
20 Reverse Lunges
10 Renegade Row Push Ups

CHALLENGE 2: ‘The Dumbbell Complex Challenge’

dumbbell challenge graphic

Without putting the dumbbell down—complete the following exercises as a circuit. Rest 30 seconds between sets. Attempt to increase the weight with each set. Complete 3 total sets.

10 Dumbbell Squats
10 Dumbbell Squat Cleans
10 Dumbbell Thrusters
10 Dumbbell Shoulder Presses

CHALLENGE 3: The Descending Rep Scheme’

Rep scheme is descending and allows for great strength work as well as some conditioning. Each movement is performed for 10 reps. Once all are completed perform each movement with 9 reps, and so on down to 1 rep of each movement.


Bench Press
Pull Ups

CHALLENGE 4: The 500 Rep Challenge

500 reps challenge graphic

 Move through this circuit one time at 50 reps per movement.

#1 - 50 Push Ups
#2 - 50 Air Squat Jumps
#3 - 50 Inverted Barbell Pull Ups
#4 - 50 Neutral Grip Dumbbell Shoulder Press
#5 - 50 Dumbbell Front Squat
#6 - 50 Russian Twists
#7 - 50 Renegade Rows
#8 - 50 V-Ups
#9 - 50 Bench Hops
#10 - 50 Mountain Climbers

CHALLENGE 5: ‘The By-the-Rack Bear Complex’

Clients will complete four sets. Increase weight each set: Perform all 5 movements in succession, 2:00 rest between sets:

5 Hang Cleans
5 Reverse Front Rack Lunges (5 each side)
5 Push Press
10 Back Squat
10 Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Positivity is the key to completing fitness challenges provide as much encouragement as possible and motivating personal trainer clients becomes very easy. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using challenges to motivate clients!

#8 - Get Online! 

internet graphic

So, it’s 2023, and social media use has never been as prevalent as it is now.

According to, there are 4.7 billion social media users as of 2022, and this figure is up 9% on a year-on-year basis.

We’re sure that this emphasises just how important it is for PTs to build a following on social media, especially since the fitness industry is incredibly popular on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. It would be a real shame to miss out on that much exposure, especially with the rise in celebrity personal trainers and fitness influencers!

Not only can being on social media be great for your brand and business, but it’s also a fantastic way of motivating your personal training clients.

Stuck for ideas when it comes to content? Not to worry! We have plenty of suggestions in our guide to creating a fitness Instagram, but here are a few quick-fire ideas for now:

  • Exercise tutorials
  • Motivational quotes
  • Workout challenges/circuits to try
  • Behind-the-scenes content (meal prep, etc.)
  • Competitions/giveaways
  • Client progress photos

When it comes to learning how to motivate personal training clients, one of our favourite types of content to post from this list is client progress photos.

Not only are they a great reflection of your business and how well you do your job for prospective clients, but they’re also a great way of showing your client what is possible if they follow your guidance.

They serve as solid evidence that if they work with you and stay motivated, they will achieve their goals.

As well as this, motivational quotes and behind-the-scenes content also work incredibly well, as your clients can see how you live a healthy lifestyle whilst managing to treat yourself simultaneously. For example, you may post a pic of the cheat day meal that you had at the weekend followed by a meal prep shot the next day.

You become even more of a role model this way, as you’re motivating them indirectly and out of hours; it will remind them to stay motivated when they’re scrolling down their feed and encourage them to get back on track if they’re slacking!

#9 - Go Above and Beyond

go above and beyond to motivate pt clients

One of the most overlooked ways to motivate personal training clients is to go above and beyond what they expect of you.

We don’t just mean being extra supportive and kind during sessions, as that is just basic stuff (and certainly won’t motivate your PT clients any more than the next personal trainer in your gym can).

We’re talking things like building a community amongst your clients, creating challenges or competitions, giving your clients rewards, etc. things that your average personal trainers just don’t even consider.

For example, a private Facebook group where your clients can connect with each other could work really well, as not only are you showing them that you’re willing to connect with them outside of your sessions, but they will also stay motivated by motivating each other.

We’re not saying that you must start your own CrossFit business here, but you get the idea!

As well as this, you could run competitions with prizes that are good enough to motivate your clients to truly push themselves. This could include:

  • Discounted or FREE PT sessions (who wouldn’t compete for this?)
  • A workout diary
  • Protein powder/supplements
  • Tickets to a fitness convention or expo
  • Gym gear (branded t-shirt or water bottle, etc.)
  • Gift cards for their favourite fitness brands
  • Gift cards for health food shops
  • Treating your client to a meal or coffee

You could also use these things as rewards for your clients if they hit their goals, as some may prefer to focus on their individual goals rather than competing, and who doesn’t enjoy being rewarded for hard work?

Not only will these things be great for learning how to motivate your personal training clients, but they’ll also be good for your business.

As we said earlier, word spreads fast, and if other gym members find out about the competitions that you run or the monthly meet ups that you and your clients have, they could become part of your community themselves.

Before You Go! 

You don’t need to repeatedly ask yourself ‘how difficult is motivating personal training clients?’, you’ve got this!

If you nurture and grow your business as you would a new client, you will be sure to stand out in the competitive personal training market.

Boost your income by combining your personal training qualification with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition course. See what other qualifications you can turn into services for your clients by downloading our course prospectus here.


  1. Al-Nakeeb, Y.; Lyons, M.; Collins, P.; Al-Nuaim, A.; Al-Hazzaa, H.; Duncan, M.J.; Nevill, A. Obesity, Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Amongst British and Saudi Youth: A Cross-Cultural Study. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 1490-1506.
  2. UK, Physical Activity: Applying All Our Health. Accessed 17 January 2020. Available at:

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Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Chloe on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Chloe graduated with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and prior to OriGym worked at J&R Digital Marketing Agency on the Liverpool 'Female Founders' series. Since joining the company, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and advanced Sports Nutrition Specialist. Chloe’s professional interests intersect content-development and the world of online fitness, especially across social media and YouTube, and Chloe has herself contributed pieces on fitness and weight loss to sites including the Daily Star and The Express. Outside her day-to-day role, Chloe enjoys playing the guitar, gaming and kettlebell training. 

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