What incentives or rewards improve clients motivation?

What incentives or rewards improve clients motivation?
As fitness professionals, we are in the business of behavior change. Whether it’s getting a sedentary person to move more, or helping a sometimes-weekend-warrior to develop a regular schedule, or supporting a fat loss client to eat more protein and veggies – we must use principles of behavior change to help our clients achieve their goals (not to mention visit us more often, stay with us longer, and refer us to their friends).

We know that – above all else – consistency is key to our clients hitting and maintaining their health and fitness goals.

Turn exercise into a habit, and healthy living into part of someone’s identity – and they’ll be an exerciser for life.

If you analyze your library of client success stories, how many of your clients who have achieved and sustained their goals hated – and continue to hate – exercise?

We’re guessing it’s not many. At some point along the way, they experienced enough enjoyment that continuing their fitness journey became more appealing than throwing in the towel.

The rewards of exercising overshadowed the early mornings, the drive to the gym, the membership fees, and the time commitment.

What incentives or rewards improve clients motivation?

The Habit Loop

You may be familiar with the habit loop, the process by which we build habits that was popularized in Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit.

This framework proposes that all habits share three common components – the cue, the routine, and the reward.

We can work with our clients to adjust these components to promote healthy behaviors.

  • Keep forgetting to drink water? Make the cue more obvious by keeping your water bottle in your line of sight at your desk.
  • Have a post-dinner mindless snacking routine? Swap out chips for crunchy vegetables.
  • Feel like the benefits of working out are taking too long to see? Give yourself a reward for keeping up your routine.

The reward component of the habit loop is the key to turning a behavior into a habit. If our clients do not perceive their behavior as resulting in a positive reward, they are less likely to continue that behavior moving forward. If our clients do perceive a positive reward, a positive feedback loop is created, and they are more likely to continue the behavior.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear proposes laws of behavior change as they relate to the habit loop. He states that, in order for a habit to stick, the reward for any given behavior must be both satisfying and immediate.

While we may not be able to accelerate the physiological adaptations our clients desire, we can create small immediate rewards to make the process more enjoyable for them. In other words, we can help our clients to feel good about exercise, so they want to keep coming back for more.

What incentives or rewards improve clients motivation?

Making Exercise Rewarding and Enjoyable

How can we make exercise more rewarding and enjoyable for our clients? Here are some recommendations:

The rise of wearable technology makes feedback instantaneous. It allows our clients to understand how their body responds to exercise, to aim for specific goals during a workout, and to course-correct when needed. The idea is: “I did x action, and that caused me to achieve y result.” When our clients can visibly see how their actions lead to results, it helps them feel good about what they’ve done. As coaches, immediate feedback provides us with information to effectively cue and motivate our clients.

  • Make the experience personal.

We have the privilege of helping our clients see something greater in themselves. That is why it is vital that we make every client feel seen, understood, and important. Every interaction with our client is an opportunity to make their experience more enjoyable and to reward them with recognition. Wearable technology helps us offer a personal experience, especially with the use of a live in-club display. For instance, you can turn a large group fitness class into a one-on-one experience by calling each member by name (as is displayed on the screen) and by offering personalized praise and feedback based on the user data displayed throughout the workout.

  • Acknowledge effort and consistency.

Focusing only on long-term outcome goals can quickly become frustrating for clients. Rather, look for ways to acknowledge consistent hard work. For instance, exercise frequency is a simple number to track with your CRM or with wearable tech. Myzone takes this recommendation a step further with Myzone Effort Points (MEPs), a point system that rewards users for every minute they spend exercising. Additionally, Myzone Status rewards consistent effort; users who earn 1300 MEPs every month will earn new status rankings, from Iron at 1 month all the way up to Hall of Fame at 48 months.

  • Offer incentives and chances to win.

Tangible rewards are a powerful motivator. Unlike longer-term rewards like weight loss, which are often dependent upon many complex factors, incentives and chances to win tell our clients that if they do x, they will earn or may get y. This is why periodic or ongoing challenges can keep motivation high among your clients. If they simply earn a certain amount of MEPs, or walk a certain number steps, or check in a certain number of times, a reward may be waiting for them.

  • Create touchpoints with clients.

This ties in with recommendation #2 and can extend well beyond the actual workout. Finding ways to interact with our clients, even when they are not physically with us, keeps them accountable and keeps us at the forefront of their mind. For example, the Myzone app is designed to promote social connectivity, so you can connect with your clients, send them a direct message, and like and comment on their workouts. Each time you check in with your clients, you remind them that you care about whether or not they show up, and that you have their back.

Immediate rewards that help our clients feel good about exercise may come in many forms, including personalized feedback, points, chances to win, recognition, and more. Reinforce your clients’ positive behaviors by offering rewards that make them feel encouraged and acknowledged, and you’ll set them up to achieve and sustain their goals.

Are you ready to change the way you do fitness? Unleash the full power of Myzone within your facility and motivate your members to achieve more. Click here for more information.

What incentives or rewards improve clients motivation?

Dec 14, 2020 | by AIF

Motivation to keep training does not come easy to all of us. If you’re thinking about a career as a Personal Trainer, or are one already, it’s your job to inspire clients through positive reinforcement and smart training methods.

Putting fire in the belly of a particularly stubborn or unmotivated client can be a difficult, but not impossible task. Here are nine strategies to help you motivate even the most apathetic of clients.

#1. Understand their motivation

Before you start training a client you need to find out exactly what it is that is motivating them to train with you – their ‘why’. Whether they simply want to get fit, shed a few kilos in the lead up to their wedding, or are training for a strenuous upcoming marathon, the training routine you design for them must match their ultimate motivation.

People often find their drive when working towards something they really want. By understanding what their end goal is, and what they hope to achieve, you’ll be better equipped to motivate them by regularly reminding them of their ‘why’.

#2. Set short-term goals

Working towards their long-term goal can be an arduous process for clients if you don’t help to make the journey fun. Real progress and results take time; your client won’t magically become ripped or drop several dress sizes overnight. By setting short-term weekly goals, you can keep training exciting, and rewarding. For example, ask your client to run one extra minute on the treadmill each week to improve their endurance. Short term goals also make the end goal feel more achievable.

#3. Help to set incentives

It’s not all work and no play when it comes to working out. If your client is working hard and achieving goals, but failing to reward themself, their motivation levels can be impacted. When considering your client’s goals, chat to them about their incentives. Ask them to think about how they will reward themselves when they reach certain goals. The right type of reward is important when determining goals. If a client is trying to lose weight, for example, perhaps avoid food rewards. Instead, they may choose an experience like a trip to a day spa or to purchase some new activewear.

#4. Track progress

Personal trainers must monitor their client’s progress. As the saying goes, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’. Tracking progress for fat loss clients can include gauging body fat percentages or recording weight. For all clients it should be training focused, and include measurements pertaining to changes in strength, flexibility, stability, movement and cardio capabilities.

Is your client lifting heavier weights compared to last week? Are they able to maintain a faster speed for cross trainer intervals? Record this information in your client’s profile so that you can both see at a glance where improvements are occurring. There are numerous apps and software available to help PTs manage their clients progress.

#5. Frequently change programs

The body is believed to plateau after six weeks of vigorously undergoing the same program or training style. For this reason, it’s very important that personal trainers change every client’s program every four to six weeks. This not only ensures that clients continue to make fitness gains, it also makes their sessions more enjoyable and prevents them from getting bored with the same old routine.

#6. Communicate

You don’t need to be best friends with your clients, but you should be friendly, patient and understanding. Talking to them about everyday life and their interests is part of building a professional relationship. Your clients need to feel comfortable enough to trust you. But being friendly doesn’t mean going soft on training – you need to remain firm and professional in your exercise prescription so that your clients can achieve their goals.

Whether you have a separate business phone or use your personal one, you can give your clients your phone number so that they can contact you whenever in doubt of their progress. Exchanging numbers also gives you the opportunity to send inspirational messages or quotes to boost their morale and show them that you are as committed as they are to achieving their fitness goals.

#7. Reassess over time

Plenty of clients start out their workouts and programs with a goal in mind. However, things change. Your client, upon starting their regime, may have wanted to lose 30kg, but as time went on they may have decided they don’t want to lose that much weight and would rather work on increasing their strength. Changes like this can result in them no longer being motivated by their original goals. Setting time aside every so often to regroup and go over the client’s goals is a great way to ensure you’re both on track with their needs.

#8. Remind them of their progress

Your client might be feeling down that they put a kilo on. They may be feeling demoralised after failing to lift as much weight or complete as many reps as last week. The fact is, this happens. While it may be a small step back, they have previously taken ten steps forwards.

In such instances, remind your clients of where they began and how far they have come. When improvements are incremental, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how much has changed. As their trainer, you need to give them a friendly reminder of their achievements and to reassure them that their disappointing week is merely a glitch, and certainly not irreversible. So they put on a little weight? They’ve already lost 15 kilos. They didn’t do enough reps? Remember when you couldn’t do even one? Simple reminders like this are perfect.

Showing your client photos and videos of them that you took earlier on in their training journey can also help bring things into focus. By asking them to look at these, you will enable them to appreciate the hard work they’ve put in so far and remind them that they have the willpower and determination to continue making advances with their training.

#9. Do YOUR best

If you come to the gym or meet with a client and you’re feeling down or unmotivated, soon enough your client will feel the same way.

You’re only human, so there will be days when, for whatever reason, you aren’t in the mood for training clients. It may sound harsh, but the fact is, your personal issues are not your client’s problem and they are paying you to be on your game.

If you’re having troubles outside of work, try to ‘put them in a box’ until you can deal with them later. If you really feel unable to deliver a high quality session, it is better to postpone the appointment.

When you are working with clients, you need to have positive energy and be entirely focused on them and their workout. You’ll find that by doing so you will actually lift your own mood which will help you get through the day.


To learn how to help people reach their training goals safely and effectively, click here to check out the AIF’s Master Trainer Program™ course which includes dual qualifications in Personal Training (Cert IV in Fitness) and Fitness Coach (Cert III in Fitness).