4 Powerful Communication Techniques Fitness Professionals Need to Master

“You didn’t follow the exercise plan—why?” vs. “How have you been adjusting to the new workout program?”

Both questions could finally reveal the limitations and challenges your shopper faces in sticking to a exercise routine. But how they find yourself feeling might vastly differ:

  • The first query is harking back to an interrogation. Your shopper feels judged and responsible.
  • The second query alerts your willingness to perceive their expertise from their perspective. Your shopper feels they’ll clarify their circumstances freely with none judgment. And they really feel supported. 

Your communication abilities as a health skilled (e.g., personal trainer, Pilates instructor, or yoga instructor) might impression your shopper’s motivation to meet their bodily and psychological health targets. So, how will you talk in a way that finest empowers, motivates, and helps your shopper? Find out on this article.


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What Is Communication?

Communication is the act of expressing concepts, data, data, ideas, and emotions, coupled with understanding what’s expressed by others.

It can take 4 kinds:

  • Verbal communication: The spoken phrase; an oral type of communication
  • Nonverbal communication: Involves actions, facial expressions, physique place, tone, pitch, and gestures
  • Written communication: Includes letters, emails, and textual content messages
  • Visual communication: The use of visible parts, like indicators and typography, to convey concepts and data

Note: Of these 4 communication kinds, the primary three are probably the most instantly related to a coach-client relationship. This article thus primarily focuses on verbal, nonverbal, and written communication methods.

Nonverbal Communication

Your shopper can infer so much out of your nonverbal communication cues (e.g., whether or not you genuinely care, for those who’re being truthful, and the way properly you’re listening). Research means that between 60% to 90% of communication is nonverbal.

The Roles of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication might play a number of roles, together with:

  • Repetition: Repeats and strengthens the message you’re making verbally. It helps enhance trust, clarity, and rapport. An instance is for those who say, “I’m happy to support you,” and observe it with a real smile.
  • Contradiction: Contradicts the message you’re making an attempt to convey, thus indicating to your shopper that you could be not be telling the reality. It might generate pressure, distrust, and confusion. An instance is for those who say, “I’m interested in learning what you think about the new workout plan,” whereas fiddling along with your telephone.
  • Substitution: Substitutes a verbal message. For instance, your shopper tells you they labored out as soon as final week, and also you frown. Although you are not saying something, you continue to categorical disapproval, unhappiness, and disappointment.
  • Complementing: Adds or enhances your verbal message. For instance, think about {that a} shopper has pushed by a troublesome coaching session. If you pat them on the again as well as to giving reward, which will enhance the impression of your message.

Pay Attention to Your Nonverbal Communication

 This, in flip, highlights why it is essential for you to develop an consciousness of your nonverbal communication. It prevents you from undermining your verbal communication when interacting along with your shopper.

Here are a number of particular issues to be aware of:

  • Body actions: Body actions can convey intent, emotion, and that means. For instance, nodding your head as your shopper speaks might present understanding and assist. That stated, too many physique actions might be distracting. It might also come throughout as patronizing, so watch out not to overdo it.
  • Posture: How you stand or sit determines whether or not your posture is open or closed. Try to preserve an open posture when talking along with your shopper to painting friendliness and positivity. Face your shopper immediately along with your arms at your sides and your chest, stomach, and decrease extremities simply seen.
  • Eye contact: Where and the way typically you make eye contact can have an effect on your shopper’s stage of belief in you. Try to maintain eye contact as much as possible when talking along with your shopper.
  • Paralanguage: Includes your voice’s pitch, tone, and loudness. It additionally contains your velocity of speaking. When talking, take into consideration how you can talk your phrases in a supportive, nonjudgmental approach.
  • Closeness or private house: How shut you stand or sit to your shopper determines the extent of intimacy. Standing or sitting too shut might be intimidating and off-putting, relying in your relationship with a shopper.
  • Facial expressions: Be aware of how you utilize your facial expressions, similar to smiling or frowning, when interacting along with your shopper.

A Note on Cultural Differences

 It’s additionally value remembering that there could also be cultural variations in nonverbal communication.

For occasion, the overall quantity of eye contact and the size that a person maintains eye contact tends to range throughout cultures. According to this study, people from an East Asian tradition understand one other’s face as angrier and extra unapproachable when making eye contact than people from Western European cultures.   

Thus, creating cultural compatibility as a health skilled might assist create an inclusive and supportive atmosphere for all shoppers.

Practice Active Listening

How are you able to assist your shopper really feel heard and understood? A helpful communication method to use is active listening; right here’s how you can implement it:

  • Be totally current: Give your shopper your undivided consideration. Avoid being distracted by different issues (e.g., background noise or your cell phone notifications). Pay cautious consideration to your shopper’s nonverbal cues—from their physique language to the tone of their speech—to choose up the hidden that means. 
  • No judgment: Active listening is an act of empathy. You’re making an attempt to perceive the place they’re coming from and their feelings. You’re unlikely to obtain that for those who decide your shopper as they speak.
  • Show that you just’re listening: It’s essential that your shopper “sees” you are listening, too (circa the significance of nonverbal communication). Use your physique language and gestures to present that you just’re paying consideration. Combine eye contact with smiles to encourage your shopper the place acceptable. Keep your posture open and .
  • Reflect again: When your shopper is completed saying their piece, paraphrase what they stated. This reveals them that you just’ve been listening and, extra importantly, that you just perceive them. Reflective listening validates your shopper’s emotions by displaying that you just get it. Here’s an instance of how you can incorporate this method:

o   Client: “I’ve been feeling really stressed about work, and then when I get home, I’m in such a bad mood I don’t feel like working out.”

o   You: “Work has been so stressful that it causes you to feel frustrated all the time. And when you’re in that state of mind, exercising isn’t something you want to do.” 

  • Ask your shopper to elaborate: Maybe you didn’t fairly perceive what your shopper stated. In this case, you can use open-ended questions similar to, “Could you tell me more about that?” or “I didn’t understand what you just said. Could you help me understand by explaining that further?”

Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language refers to the phrases and phrases you utilize that keep away from biases, slang, and expressions that discriminate in opposition to teams of people primarily based on race, gender, socioeconomic standing, and skill.

It’s one of many key communication methods you can use to create a secure, empowering, and supportive atmosphere for all shoppers of their pursuit of a more healthy life-style.

Here are a number of suggestions which will make it easier to regulate your language to be extra inclusive of all individuals:

  • Ask your shopper’s pronouns: When you utilize your shopper’s right pronouns, it creates an inclusive atmosphere the place you reveal that you take care of and respect them. If you aren’t certain how to get your shopper to share their pronouns, a technique is to share your individual. For instance, you can say, “Hello, my name is Lauren, and I go by ‘they/them/theirs’ pronouns. What pronouns do you use?” 
  • Use gender-neutral labels when speaking about members of the family: Intentionally utilizing gender-neutral titles (e.g., mother or father, partner, companion, little one) when talking about your or your shopper’s household might make a giant distinction in how comfy they really feel through the interplay.
  • Use plain language (keep away from jargon): “Hypertrophy,” “ankle dorsiflexion,” “scapula”—when you could also be accustomed to these phrases as a health skilled, the identical could not essentially apply to your shopper. Choose easy, easy language each time doable. So, right here, do exchange “hypertrophy” with “muscle growth,” “ankle dorsiflexion” with “tilt your foot upwards,” and “scapula” with “shoulder blades.” Also, use solely as many phrases as essential.
  • Be aware of phrases associated to race, ethnicity, nationality, and tradition: Certain often used phrases have roots in racism and discrimination or are taken from celebrations and sacred practices of marginalized communities. You may need to spend a while educating your self on what these are and the suitable options.

 Of course, the above is certainly not an exhaustive record of inclusive language. If you are taken with studying extra, refer to A Progressive’s Style Guide, a useful resource created by SumOfUs, a 501(c)4 social welfare nonprofit group.

Adopt a Trauma-Informed Approach

According to the American Psychological Association, “trauma” is an emotional response to a horrible occasion, like an accident, rape, or pure catastrophe. Going past these “big-T trauma” occasions (as outlined by psychologists), the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center additionally lists different experiences that could be traumatic, like:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • Living with a member of the family with psychological well being or substance use problems
  • Sudden, unexplained separation from a liked one
  • Poverty
  • Racism, discrimination, and oppression
  • Violence in the neighborhood, conflict, or terrorism

Broadly talking, although, trauma is something that overwhelms a person’s present sources and skill to cope.

Trauma might have adversarial and long-lasting results on a shopper’s bodily, emotional, and religious wellbeing. This could have an effect on their vitamin and train behaviors, self-care decisions, and skill to regulate their feelings, making it tough for them to expertise significant progress of their well being and health.

Let’s say you politely and respectfully counsel your shopper strive including cardio to their exercise routines. They, in flip, get tremendous indignant.

While you may even see it as an overreaction, this might be a wonderfully regular response for a person who’s been fat-shamed all their lives and advised to do cardio as a result of “it’ll help.” Yet, they haven’t discovered any success with it.

This highlights the significance of adopting a trauma-informed method as a health skilled. More particularly, being a trauma-aware coach might make it easier to:

Key Principles of a Trauma-Informed Approach

The six key principles of a trauma-informed method are:

  • Safety: Help your shopper really feel bodily and psychologically secure within the teaching atmosphere.
  • Trustworthiness and transparency: Be clear about the way you make selections and what you’ll do with the knowledge collected. This builds and maintains belief with shoppers.
  • Peer assist: Provide or counsel alternatives for shoppers to search peer assist and mutual self-help.
  • Collaboration and mutuality: Recognize energy variations within the coach-client relationship society has set forth and work to stage them.
  • Empowerment, Voice, and Choice: Recognize and construct upon your shopper’s distinctive strengths and experiences. Foster empowerment and self-advocacy abilities of your shoppers. Allow your shopper to decide the plan of motion they want by shared decision-making and goal-setting.
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issues: Recognize and actively transfer previous stereotypes and biases. Incorporate insurance policies, protocols, and processes responsive to your shopper’s wants.

Click here to check out tips on implementing trauma-informed motivational interviewing with your clients.


If you’re trying to enhance your communication methods, begin by understanding what communication entails. It’s a lot greater than cautious phrase choice—it’s additionally about the way you ship your message, the way you pay attention to your shopper, and many others.

Ultimately, all the time strive to create a secure house on your shoppers to share brazenly and comfortably. That’s the place acceptable nonverbal cues, inclusive language, lively listening, and a trauma-informed method come into play.


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