9 Key Personal Training Communication Skills

Personal training communication skills banner

From body language to empathy, this article provides expert advice on identifying and improving the vital communication skills that a personal trainer needs.

OriGym's Personal Training Diploma will ensure you're able to perform the roles and responsibilities of a PT. Once enrolled, you can begin learning the vital skills required to plan and deliver bespoke work programmes to clients.

You can learn more about the qualification process and the vocational skills you'll acquire in our detailed guide on becoming a personal trainer

Why Is Communication Important For Personal Trainer?

Personal trainer communication skills

There are many important skills required to become a personal trainer, and communication is certainly one of them! Being able to do this effectively with your clients is vital if you want them to reach their goals. 

While everyone believes they are successful personal trainers who can communicate, very few are effective. 

To help your clients reach their goals, communication really is crucial. If people are coming to you for a service, it’s crucial they know exactly what to expect from you. Although everyone can communicate, positive communication is of the utmost importance.

Even though some individuals actually respond well to a no-nonsense attitude or being yelled at during training, most do not. As a personal trainer, it’s likely you will be working with clients you don’t know particularly well, particularly when they first begin using your service.

You must understand certain comments and actions can have a detrimental effect on clients and they may not respond well to you. This could negatively affect business and stop clients from returning to use your service. 

While it’s important to be yourself, it’s also down to you to understand a client and react accordingly. This is why personal training communication skills are important as you have to adapt them to each individual. There isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to training.

Examples of Good & Bad Personal Trainer Communication Skills

Personal trainer communication skills

As there are many different types of personal trainer communication skills, you must find the ideal way to respond to clients. Check out this exchange below and see what you think is wrong with it:

Client: What kind of exercise can I do to lose weight?

PT: Any. Want me to book you in for a session?

Or how about this one:

Client: What’s the best way for me to get toned?

PT: Lift weights.

Now, is this really someone you would be willing to train with? The personal trainer in the exchange above does nothing to educate the client. Their responses are short and blunt, making them appear uninterested in the client's goals.

Although they do ask if the client wants to be booked in for a session, asking just this question makes it appear like the PT is only concerned about the clients money and nothing else.

A personal trainer should try to connect with a potential client and find out exactly what they’re looking for.

pt communication skills

Take a look at these example exchanges below:

Client: What kind of exercise can I do to lose weight?

PT: Pretty much any kind of exercise can help you lose weight but it’s best to find the right one for you. Have you tried any so far or are you new to exercise?

And this one:

Client: What’s the best way for me to get toned?

PT: There are plenty of great toning exercises you can try. Do you have a long-term goal in mind?

See the difference between these sets of exchanges? By asking the client questions, the personal trainer is already establishing a relationship by showing interest in the person’s goals and preferences.

Offering a simple solution isn’t good enough when it comes to a potential client. Asking questions provides you with more information about how you can help them. 

The second set is much more personable and engaging. This is important for gaining returning clients and building a unique relationship with them. 

If you seem uninterested or disengaged, it’s unlikely potential clients will want to return and train with you.

9 Key Personal Trainer Communication Skills

Personal trainer communication skills key

There are many different types of personal trainer communication skills. While not everyone is a natural communicator, it’s important to practice these skills in order to build and maintain good relationships with clients.

#1 - Positive Body Language & Tone Of Voice

Personal trainer communication skills positive

Body language, or non-verbal communication, is something that should not be disregarded. Sometimes, a person’s tone of voice or body language can communicate much more than their words.

Regarding communication, Albert Mehrabian came up with the ‘7%-38%-55% Rule’. 

Although his findings from very specific studies have been arguably misinterpreted, the general principle is that the actual words account for 7%, whereas tone (38%) and facial expressions/body language (55%) make up the majority of communication.

Many personal trainer communication skills rely on being friendly and interested in clients. While you may say certain things that don’t sound rude, your tone of voice and facial expressions may say otherwise.

Types of communication skills

The last thing you want is to come across as impolite or uninterested in clients when they show up for training. No one wants to feel uncomfortable just for wanting to work out, especially if they’re a beginner.

Although not everyone realises when they may come across as short or dismissive, it’s important to develop a level of self awareness. If you’re dealing with clients every day, you should be able to realise when you adopt a friendlier or more reassuring tone of voice. 

While you could even say something that on paper is supportive and kind, if you deliver it in a way that appears like you’re bored, stressed, or annoyed with them, it won’t have an effect. They will likely take it negatively as the words will essentially be hidden within the tone used to say it.

The bottom line is it won’t look good on you if an employer has to pull you aside and tell you to be friendlier or a client doesn’t come back because they don’t like the way you speak to them. 


Kickstart Your Career as a Personal Trainer

Learn how to plan and deliver bespoke workout programmes with our PT Diploma! 

#2 - Active Listening

Personal training communication skills listen

A way to improve your listening skills is to become an active listener. This is where you aim to hear and understand the complete message being communicated to you, not just the words someone is saying.

This is a great way to improve your personal trainer communication skills as you must pay attention to the other person very carefully. Active listening isn’t just taking in someone’s words but actually understanding what is being communicated. 

An active listener doesn’t interrupt the speaker or become distracted by what is happening around them. 

The last thing a client wants when they’re explaining their goals and ambitions to you, is for your mind to clearly be elsewhere. You can’t expect to set them SMART fitness goals if you’re not listening to them in the first place!

When someone is talking to you, it’s likely they want to know you are actually listening to what they’re saying. This can be as simple as nodding your head, or asking questions about something they’ve just said.

Types of PT communication skills

No one wants to feel like they’re talking to a brick wall. This doesn’t just apply to personal training communication skills but in everyday life, too. 

Some ways to engage with a speaker are:

  • Ask them to clarify things - ‘What do you mean by that?’
  • Don’t interrupt them while they’re speaking.
  • Respond appropriately - Don’t put them down or insult them.
  • Pay attention - Look at them directly and avoid distractions.
  • Provide feedback - Respond to what is being said.

If you’re going to be working with different clients, you need to work on your active listening skills. It takes a lot of concentration to do this but once you practice it multiple times, you’ll soon be able to listen to clients and give them advice without thinking. 

#3 - Empathy

Personal training communication skills empathy

Understanding and sharing the feelings of another is vital for personal trainer communication skills. Sensitivity to the feelings of others is very important when it comes to personal training.

It shows you’re trying to understand how someone feels about a situation and are paying attention to them.

If you feel a client doesn’t seem to be acting like their usual self or are not approaching the training session with their normal level of motivation, talk to them! 

Without prying into their personal life too much, ask a couple of questions about how they’re doing or if they’re feeling OK.

Taking the time to show you’re interested in how they are doing outside of training sessions is a great way to make them trust you more and feel comfortable in your presence. 

pt communication skills for sessions

Establishing this aspect of your relationship is a great way to help you understand what a client may be going through in their personal life, allowing you to act accordingly, and better tailor your services. 

The last thing you want is to make someone feel more stressed or worse about themselves during training if they’re already having a hard time outside of sessions.

Phrases such as ‘I understand’ and ‘I know what you mean’ are great for showing sensitivity to a client when they are talking to you about reaching their goals or more personal matters. 

This will go a long way when building and maintaining relationships as they will value you as a trainer they can trust.

#4 - Session Reminders

Personal training communication skills reminder

It’s important to have great personal trainer communication skills both during sessions and outside of them, especially if you're a self-employed personal trainer.

You can communicate with clients through text messages by sending them session reminders.

This shows a client you are still interested in their goals even when they aren’t in your presence. Sending session reminders will also benefit you as it reduces the risk of missed or cancelled appointments.

Work and family commitments mean that sometimes our schedules become hectic and we forget where we’re supposed to be on what particular day. Sending a confirmation message the day before a session shows clients you are organised and interested in them.

Personal training communication  skills

This can be done as a mass message, allowing you to send it to multiple clients at the same time. Some important things you could remind them of are:

  • If any changes need to be made to the appointment such as the type of training or if there’s an issue on either your end or theirs. This should allow you to do it in enough time and keep things running smoothly.
  • The time of their training session. You should ask them to respond to the message about whether or not they’re still available to attend.
  • Tell them if there’s anything in particular they need to bring for the session, especially if they’re a beginner. This could be about things like the right weightlifting shoes or type of clothes to wear.

Something as seemingly little as sending a text message to a client before a session can go a long way in showing them you’re interested in what they want to achieve. It also lets them know you’re invested in your work and know when exactly you will be seeing each client.

#5 - Clarity & Confidence

Types of personal trainer communication skills

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance’ and this is something to keep in mind when it comes to personal training. However, when we say confidence, we mean in regards to your communication.

Being clear and confident in what you say is a great way to gain trust from clients. If you’re unwavering and firm with your opinions and telling clients what you want or expect from them, they’re more likely to follow your advice because it appears to be coming from a credible source.

Speaking with confidence also means there’s less chance clients will avoid misunderstanding what you want from them. If you mumble or don’t explain things properly, there will be a lack of communication between the trainer and the client.

This could also lead to situations where a client may become stressed or frustrated because they keep getting things wrong or don’t understand what it is a trainer wants from them.


Kickstart Your Career as a Personal Trainer

Learn how to plan and deliver bespoke workout programmes with our PT Diploma! 

#6 - Assertiveness

Types of personal trainer communication skills

Sometimes assertiveness can be viewed as a negative trait but this is not the case. It is simply being confident and forceful in what you say and believe. 

This is important when developing your personal training communication skills as it allows clients to know exactly what you want from them without being vague or unclear. However, you must be careful how you communicate while being assertive as you don’t want to show the signs of a bad personal trainer.

It’s for this reason that people often assume when someone is referred to as assertive, it is in a negative way. You can be polite and friendly while also being strong in what you say. 

This can establish you as a credible authority figure and put confidence in your clients that they can trust you to provide a good experience. Personal trainers should make their opinions clear and not shy away from disagreeing with their clients. 

Once again, this can be done in a positive way. You don’t need to be rude or demanding to be assertive, just clear and confident in your opinions and approach.

#7 - Personalisation

Types of personal trainer communication skills personal

A small way you can improve your personal training communication skills is by using a client’s name to personalise their experience. While this may sound like something insignificant, it can really help a client feel more comfortable around their trainer.

This is especially important to someone who is new to the world of health and fitness. Using their name is a great way to put them at ease as it shows you are acknowledging them as a person, not just a paying client.

It helps you build a rapport with them and makes the relationship that little bit more personable. Most people do like it when their name is used in conversation by someone they don’t know too well. 

Types of PT communication skills talk

Doing this can help motivate your personal training clients as they feel you’re interested in them as a person, making you feel satisfied as a personal trainer.

To avoid using the wrong name or forgetting it, this is where the different types of personal trainer skills are crucial. You must be an active listener and concentrate when you first meet a client to avoid any awkward exchanges.

Addressing someone by their name is a good way to show you are paying attention to them. However, you should only use their name sparingly! Don’t just throw it in every single sentence as you may start venturing into the territory of coming across as overly friendly.  

#8 - Ask Direct Questions

Types of personal trainer communication skills questions

When you're training clients though, you should create an environment where you can feel comfortable asking them questions in the same way they should be with you.

This is a great way to develop your personal training communication skills as you can ask for clarity or more clear answers to your questions.

Some examples of direct questions include:

  • What do you think about this?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • Do you want to try a different way?
  • Is this OK for you?

Asking these kinds of questions establishes a more personal relationship as it shows clients that a personal trainer is actually paying attention to them during training sessions. This is not only beneficial for clients, but also to you as well.

Direct questions help you build a stronger relationship with your clients and understand them better. This means you will be able to respond better to their needs, by listening to the answers they give to your questions.

It’s important to go the extra mile for clients as this can help nervous beginners become much more comfortable in your presence, especially if you regularly ask them about how they’re finding the workout and if it is going well. 

This will put them at ease and voice any concerns, rather than feeling unsure or anxious because they’re worried about asking you a particular question. 

#9 - Positive Reinforcement 

Personal trainer communication skills

A great personal trainer communication skill is to reinforce clients positively by acknowledging how much they are improving at the end of each session. 

Different ways you can do this is by:

  • Mentioning how much their confidence has grown.
  • Highlighting the skills they have developed.
  • Reminding them of everything they're capable of.

You can support them without just focusing on how their body and looks have changed.

While some clients may like the compliments, it’s better to avoid making this the main topic of your positive reinforcement. Not only because some people may feel uncomfortable about this but also because you avoid the risk of having clients obsess over their appearance.

Communicating with clients positively about the mental benefits of exercise as well as the physical ones is much better for making them return. If you do mention how their body has changed, be sure to keep it respectful. 

While it shouldn’t need to be mentioned as this is already something personal trainers should be aware of, when complimenting someone’s appearance, never touch them without their consent. 

An important personal training communication skill is conveying this positivity and personable approach without overstepping the mark. 

How To Improve Personal Trainer Communication Skills

PT communication skills improve

As with everything, it takes a lot of practice to become an effective communicator. However, there are various skills you can adopt when speaking to clients to help these qualities come more naturally to you during conversations.

#1 - Listen, Listen, Listen!

pt communication skills listen

Any effective communicator knows when to stop talking and listen to the other person during a conversation. There's nothing wrong with being talkative, in fact, this can often make people feel more comfortable. 

However, the last thing you want is to completely dominate the conversation and barely break for a pause to let the other person speak. The last thing you want is to be constantly interrupting someone or talking over them when they're trying to speak.

This can become incredibly irritating and often makes people believe what they're saying is unimportant or irrelevant. A great communicator knows when to stop and let the other person speak.

The only way you will be able to be aware of this is by listening to what they have to say. If you feel you may have been talking for too long, ask them a direct question.

This shows you're paying attention to what they have to say as you're shifting the focus back on them, rather than risking rambling on with no direction.

#2 - Develop A Filter

personal trainer communication skills

You've likely heard the phrase 'think before you speak', and this certainly applies to this point! When speaking to clients, it's important to know what's appropriate to say and what isn't. This is vital when you are around new clients or ones you don't know very well. 

An effective communicator knows how to adapt to certain situations. Everybody acts differently depending on what environment they find themselves in. This is important for avoiding conflict in the workspace or inappropriate behaviour that may make people uncomfortable.


Kickstart Your Career as a Personal Trainer

Learn how to plan and deliver bespoke workout programmes with our PT Diploma! 

#3 - Control Your Emotions

personal trainer communication skills emotions

Learning to control your emotions is important for improving your personal trainer communication skills. Knowing what reaction is appropriate for certain situations is vital if you want clients to continue using your service.

Becoming visibly angry or frustrated is something you want to avoid entirely, especially if it's during sessions with clients. A good communicator will know when to conceal certain emotions or stop certain ones rising to the surface.

If a personal trainer is having issues at home, this is where these problems and emotions should stay. While it can be difficult, clients are paying for a service from you and expect to be attending a high energy environment regardless of anything happening in your personal life.

#4 - Ask For Feedback

personal trainer communication skills

Regarding your communication skills, there's nothing wrong about asking for feedback from colleagues. Sometimes it can be difficult to see where you're going wrong so you may benefit from an external opinion to offer some advice on how you can improve. 

This can also help your personal trainer communication skills as listening to the opinions of others and responding accordingly is important for learning how to control emotions and implement this feedback into real situations.

Other Ways Personal Trainers Can Communicate

personal trainer communication skills 1

Although most of your communication with clients will be face to face, it’s important to have good personal trainer communication skills in every aspect of your job. 

You should use whatever is available to you, such as:

  • Emails
  • Phone calls
  • Video calls
  • Text messages

It’s important to have effective communication both face to face when training clients and during time away from each other.

The last thing you want are clients only communicating with you when they actually see you. Even just sending them motivational text messages can be enough to show you are interested in helping them reach their goals, not just for the times they pay you for a service.

If you’re looking for some messages to send your clients, check out our list of the 41 Best Personal Training Motivational Quotes. Making yourself available through other forms of communication can make you a more accessible and friendly personal trainer.

If you acknowledge your client outside of training sessions, it can ultimately influence their opinion of you. It shows you value them as both a client and person and genuinely want to help them achieve their goals.

Before You Go!

Communication is about tailoring the experience to make it more personable, ensuring you build a unique trainer and client relationship.

You can develop these skills with vocational training, such as our Personal Training Diploma. Once enrolled, you will learn how to communicate with your clients on a 1-to-1 basis, ensuring they meet their desired goals. 

Alternatively, read about the range of courses we have on offer here at OriGym by downloading our full course prospectus today!

Written by James Brady

Fitness Writer & Enthusiast

James graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. His desire to find a place where he could combine his passion for writing and love of fitness is what brought him to OriGym. He believes his passion for daily exercise, especially running, is imperative in keeping him motivated and productive. As a result, he has a particular interest in the psychology of health and fitness and the relationship between physical and mental health. Outside of work, James enjoys reading, swimming, writing short stories, watching classic movies and has a keen interest in journalism and filmmaking.

Recommended Posts

Best Personal Training Courses in the UK

Best Personal Training Courses in the UK 

In this article, we compare the best personal training courses in the UK looking at key criteria such as accreditations, the quality of …
The Highest Paying Fitness Jobs

The Highest Paying Fitness Jobs 

Salary is one of the biggest factors to consider when looking for a new career, so it's understandable that you want to know what the highes …
How to Become a Personal Trainer in 6 Steps

How to Become a Personal Trainer in 6 Steps 

Contents:Step 1: Qualify as a Personal TrainerStep 2: Finding The Right PT Course Step 3: Map Out Your PT Career PathStep 4: …

Download Our Guide to Starting an Online PT Business From Home

Download Our Guide to Starting an Online PT Business From Home