Personal Trainers; if you can’t help your client with mindset you’re wasting your time

Health and Fitness is in the top 3 for most people’s New Year resolutions and like every year we’ll see the gyms fill up in January, only to find them empty in comparison by February (with 66% of people breaking Personal Trainer NLPtheir New Year’s resolution in the first month according to The Guardian).

Whether you’re a Personal Trainer in a gym or you’re working freelance, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s frustrating – you know the difference you can make for people, yet their good intentions disappear a lightening speed. Even if you ask clients to buy packages rather than single sessions to increase revenue and ensure your client’s commitment, it’s still disheartening when the excuses start, their attendance starts to dip and eventually they stop coming. I’ve seen friends engage Personal Trainers and when the Personal Trainer is by their side they go for it, however when their PT is not by their side it’s a different story – one of my friends engaged a Personal Trainer because ‘I then have to go to the gym 3 times a week to see her, so it makes me go’ – this is all about mindset.

Many Personal Trainers I know talk about the fact the hardest muscle to train is “between the ears”. Your client arrives focused on the “outer” game – the exercise you’ll teach them etc and probably won’t have given a second thought to their mindset, the “inner game”. You can have the best fitness equipment, the best exercises, the tried and tested ways you have helped the client in the past – you can even have the testimonials to show what your other clients have achieved – but without the right mindset it’s wasted.

Grant Harrison of Ashbourne Management Services went as far as to say ‘the general everyday workout is as much mental as it is physical, if your head isn’t in the game then your body won’t be either. To get the most from any fitness session you need to be focused on what you are trying to achieve.’

Victoria Heath, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, and Owner of, adds: “Exercise is such a mindset game. If you don’t believe you can achieve it, or you think it’s too hard, then you’re already fighting an uphill (and losing) battle. It reminds of the famous quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

“As an example, did you know that most professional athletes are born in January? One of the reasons for their success was due to being the oldest on their sports teams every year. This made them believe they were more talented than others, when in fact it was because they had up to a year’s more experience and growth than their teammates. That belief is part of what drove them to where they are today.

“Changing your mindset around exercise and training could be your missing link.”

Neil O’Conchuir, holistic coach adds: “Personal training with a holistic approach, allows you to develop the whole person. This includes accessing different levels of physical, emotional and of course mental strength. Without the right mental approach then your training will suffer, everything is a fine balance when realising your full potential.”

Reflect back on the clients who have had great results with you and those that haven’t, you’ll probably spot the glaring difference ….. Mindset. Those that get the results have clear goals, motivation, resilience, keep going where other’s give up, they have a big ‘why’, the determination, the focus and more!

Michele Connolly is the author of How to Be Thin in a World of Chocolate. She also has a Bachelor of Psychology and has written a thesis on personality and happiness. She says: “For personal trainers, you need to tell your clients that instead of aiming for something that’s not possible and then feeling miserable when you predictably fail to achieve it, they need to decide to retain their precious sanity and give up perfection. Instead, aim for progress. Progress makes you feel successful, and it motivates you to do more.

“It’s an upward spiral. Progress is achievable. It feels so much be better than the recurring disappointment of perfectionism. And best of all, over time, it gets you to your goal.”

Crystal Sheffield-Baird, Wellbeing Transformation Facilitator at Pheonix Health Coaching, says: “Personally as a coach, mindset is the first thing that needs to be determined, and this usually through motivational interviewing. You can’t effectively create or works towards goals without knowing the why behind a client’s decision to make changes and take action.

“It’s not the information they’re seeking from us; it’s the insight we can deliver in a non-judgmental way. Both mindful and motivational techniques should be the most used in our coaching and training toolbox.”

Tanya Otterstein-Liehs, Empowering Movement and Life Coach and Owner of Body Business, adds: “Being a successful personal trainer includes having the skills to successfully keep our clients motivated. One of my top motivational and mindful techniques to do this is to focus on the baby steps; clients want to see immediate results, and have a difficult time acknowledging the many baby steps they have already taken that is leading them to results and ultimately reaching their goal(s).

“By verbally telling them how far they have come since the first day they started working with you, that’s motivating them to continue their program and acknowledge these huge positive baby steps.”

 Diana Tenci, article writer at I Quit Sugar, says that as a personal trainer, you need to set realistic expectations for your clients. She advises: “At Body Be Well, we are all about setting small goals.
The larger the goal, the unrealistic the expectation of a result may occur. For example, say a weight loss goal of 20 Kg in one month!

“As each person responds differently to training styles and methods, we assess and take a more individual approach rather than suggesting a one size fits all approach. For instance, measurements rather than scales every 6/8 weeks. We focus on how the body responds to adaptations rather than weight loss for instance blood pressure, resting heart rate and again our measurements.

“Focusing on how the body responds to movement is one way we create a healthy mindset for our clients.”

How can NLP help you as a Personal Trainer?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) provides a model of change and a variety of tools and techniques that can help clients in the “inner game” of fitness. NLP is about acquiring a mindset for success. NLP processes and principles can greatly enhance a person’s fitness in a number of ways (want to find out more about ‘what’ NLP is – check out this link).

Your clients are relying on you to help them get the results they want – they think you have the ‘magic wand’ to help them achieve their health, fitness and/or performance goals. So how are you going to help them? How are you going to differentiate yourself from all the other Personal Trainers? How can you increase the likelihood of your clients achieving their goal? How can you better motivate them? How can you help them get the mindset for success?

The best Personal Trainers I know have NLP in their toolkit (alongside their PT skills, knowledge and experience). Many are Master NLP Practitioners who have advanced language skills and techniques that are able to help clients make changes at the unconscious level quickly and easily. Take habits for example, they say it takes 21 days to change a habit – however, with NLP we can change a habit in around 20 minutes! (just think what kind of difference this could make for you clients results …..)

Personal Trainers at the top of their game understand that all behaviour and learning occurs at the unconscious level – therefore to get their clients the best results they have to work with the client’s unconscious mind. Check out Billy’s NLP Course Testimonial – he uses his NLP Master Practitioner skills daily when he’s training clients.


Suzanne Culberrg, Owner of Health Without Shame, has this to say of her experience of using NLP for her fitness journey: “Many of us want to make life long changes to the way we eat and move, but instead we cycle through patterns of dieting (famine) and bingeing (feast). Fortunately, I was able to break out of this cycle by understanding that it isn’t about the food; people can never get enough of what they don’t truly want, and the way to overcome is to instead uncover what it is you are truly hungry for (which has little to do with food).

“I’ve lost large amounts of weight in the past. In 2007 I lost 43 kilograms, and in 2012 I lost 60 kilograms, and both times I put all the weight back on (with interest). Therefore, I knew there had to be more to the equation than simple calories in and calories out. So, I started researching mindset and this is what let me to NLP (first as a client). NLP helps you to step back and observe yourself (in NLP they call it going meta), and it’s almost like holding up a mirror; you can see SO much more of the situation when you stand outside of it.

“From 2015 to 2017 I hired a couple of mindset coaches and participated in courses where NLP was the prime focus, and in mid-2017, I trained myself in NLP. Using a combination of mindset, exercise and changing my eating habits I have managed to release 71 kilograms so far. I say release now and not lost because everything I have lost in the past I have found again and I don’t ever want to find this weight!”


What tools can NLP offer Personal Trainers?

Personal Trainers trained in NLP are able help clients with their mindset faster and permanently, which helps clients achieve their goals. Below are a selection of ways NLP trained Personal Trainers can help their clients:

  • Setting goals using the ‘Keys to the Achievable Outcome’ to significantly increase the likelihood of the goals being realised (check out this video about the 5 Principles of Success – these sit behind great goal setting and goal getting).
  • Developing motivation by understanding a client’s Values (Master NLP Practitioners are able to change someone’s Health and Fitness Values so the unconscious mind is motivated by these and looks to fulfil Values that support the achievement of the goal – check out this blog for an introduction to Values and Motivation).
  • Get rid of what’s holding Clients back by removing limiting beliefs (such as I’m not good enough, I can’t get fit, I don’t deserve to be fit, I can’t loose weight etc) or where part of them believes ‘x’ and part believes ‘y’  (known as an internal conflict). NLP Practitioners can easily deal with these in around 15 – 20 minutes (check out this blog as an introduction to limiting beliefs – what’s holding you back).
  • Self-discipline, breaking old habits and setting new healthy ones is easily dealt with by NLP techniques such as the Swish Pattern where we look for the trigger of an old behaviour (e.g. eating sweets when they get bored) and replacing it with a healthier more compelling behaviour – an easy NLP Practitioner level technique that takes around 20 minutes (read this blog as an introduction to ways to change thinking patterns with NLP or perhaps this blog for an introduction to strategies – ‘why do it keep doing this?!’)
  • Managing our Emotional State is key to being in the right frame of mind to train and to stay motivated. With NLP Anchoring we can help clients change their emotional state in an instant to one that is empowering and supports them – just think how much more a client could achieve if they experienced a rush of motivation, excitement and focus just before they did an exercise…
  • Get rid of Negative Emotions that impede progress – such as Anger, Hurt, Sadness, Fear and Guilt form the past – many people for example feel guilty about a lot of things, or are scared etc. With Time Line Therapy techniques® (an advanced form of NLP) ,Time Line Therapy Practitioners can help clients get rid of negative emotions from the past that will allow them to make better decision moving forward. Time Line Therapy techniques® also enables us to put their goal in their future time line so their unconscious mind can chase it and significantly increase the change of the goal being achieved.
  • Weight Change Paradigm – this is an amazing technique we teach all our Master Practitioners – it’s a high end service/product where you work with a client one-to-one intensity for 2 days and help them sort all their mindset stuff around Health and Fitness – working with someone after a 2 day intensive is amazing, their results phenomenal.  I personally lost 4 stone by using this technique – went from hating the gym, to loving it and more! – ready my story here and consider the difference this technique could make to your clients (and the additional revenue this would generate of you). Read our Weight Change paradigm web page.

Download a Free NLP PDF …

Language in NLP is key (and often language skills get lost when compared to the fast and effective techniques we often use) – a few well placed questions can sometimes make such a difference in a training session. Click here to download your free guide which is a taste of how NLP can help your clients Reframe Inner Resistance.


Want to find out more about how NLP can help you to help your clients get better result?

If you want to learn more about how NLP can help you in your business, then get in touch. You will want to check out our 7 day Certified NLP Practitioner course which we run in Cardiff and London because this is the entry level which equips you with the skills, knowledge and experience to start to use NLP with others (as well as providing you with fantastic personal development and tools you can use to grow and develop your business). Thereafter you’ll want to check out our 14 day Masters Programme – this is where you learn about conversational change and you’ll learn about our high end 2 day Weight Change Paradigm which we charge £3-£5k for …

You can contact us for more information via: [email protected]