Educating Your Clients Requires Homework

I’m not going to lie, I’ve always hated school. Especially homework! I used to do everything in my power to get out of homework when I was a kid, eventually conjuring up some great systems to get people to do it for me. Honestly, I just didn’t care about the subjects in school, and it’s still hard for me to focus on things I don’t care about to this day.

My how things change……

After obtaining a GED and dropping out of 3 colleges I realize that I still hate school, but I love education more than anything, and I love HOMEWORK!

Before you conclude that I’m un-educated and weird, let me explain.

Sleeping Student

Instead of going into my entire life story about how health and fitness changed my outlook on life, I’ll just summarize with; I’ve changed. Part of that change was experiencing all of the benefits of eating right and exercising, but another big part was focusing on what I really cared about. Once I cared about something, education became the most important part of my life, and homework…..well, I’m working from home right now, for free, and I love it.

The point of this article is not to talk about my history of hating school and my transformation into an education junkie. The point of this article is to talk about how that journey has led me to being obsessed with educating others, and also to share my experiences of how education is only good if the person being educated truly cares about why the education matters.

Lets face it, if you want your clients to get the results, they are after they need a solid education. There are so many myths, misconceptions, confusion, and just plain WRONG information in their head that they just need to buy in to a consistent source…YOU!

There’s one problem….HOW DO YOU EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS IF YOU DO GROUP TRAINING???? I’ve been obsessing over this for years, and I got you covered.  Here are some things I do to make sure our clients have a clue what we are tying to do with them, and how we make sure they have all aspects of a program covered.

Teaching Students

Give them a daily routine: We give ALL of our clients a daily routine. This routine is a corrective exercise progression based on the weakest link we found when doing the clients functional movement screen. We have handouts and videos for our go-to correctives and we make sure we give them at least 1-2 exercises that we ask them to do 1-2 times per day. This is the best way for them to clear any dysfunctions on the screen so they can progress they training from movement based to performance based. We only see our clients a few hours per week so we need to make this homework is done consistently. Those who do it get better results, period.

Give them workouts for the times they are not with you: Again, we only see our clients a few hours each week. A lot of clients will do other forms of exercise when they are not with you that could be damaging what you are tying to accomplish with them. It’s your job to make sure you talk with your clients about their entire program not just the workouts they are doing with you, and make sure that YOU are the one dictating what they do outside of your gym. If I don’t want my clients running for a while, I damn sure better provide an alternative. I will write my clients conditioning workouts for home, corrective programs, or whatever it takes to make sure they are doing the right thing when not in my presence. Advise them if yoga, spinning, or Zumba is currently a good idea for them and if not, provide the necessary education as to why and an alternative to make them happy. If this is tough in a group setting, film a few workouts that you can host on your website and have some low level modifiable templates that you can give to your clients. 

Challenge of the week: Each week we have a new lifestyle challenge that we ask our clients to do. We write the weekly challenge on a huge chalkboard and have people sign their name if they completed the challenge. It could be things like sleeping 8 hours each night, meditating once each day, trying 4 new veggies, no booze for a week, etc. These are simple ways to get clients to learn by doing, and it takes almost no extra time from our trainers.

Challenge of the Week

Exercise of the week: Each week we start our group training workouts by going over the exercise of the week. This is 2-3 minutes that we use before each workout to highlight an exercise that could benefit most people or to talk about form on a certain highlighted exercise. We have also used this time to teach the Turkish get up in stages week after week. It’s a great way to focus on learning something new each week. We also post a blog that week with the exercise of the week in order to highlight that learning topic even more. Which brings me to my next tip…..

Write blog posts and print them off: The stuff that you really with all of your clients understood are your blog post topics. Make sure you post blogs, send newsletters linking to the blogs, and print of the blog posts and make them available as handouts.

Have a philosophy poster: Put your Top 10 Things Your Clients Should Know on a poster and hang that bad boy where everyone can see it. An example of the poster I use at Complete Fitness Results can be found here:

CFR Training Program

Have a goal board: Its pretty tough to keep track of all your clients goals when you do large group training and have hundreds of clients. This has been the toughest part of group training for me personally. I know that goal setting is the key part that most people are missing from reaching their goals. They don’t have them!!!! They are just existing and going through the motions of life without real goals. It’s important to do everything you can do make goal setting a part of the culture of your gym. One of the many ways that we do this is having a basic goal board. We have a huge board with each persons name on it and they write in a short and sweet goal at the beginning of each month. It’s not perfect, but it helps, and in conjunction with constantly talking about having goals when coaching, it adds up.

Tell stories while coaching: When I’m coaching and form is tight, I’m telling stories. These stories always have a moral that teaches our clients something. I tell lots of stories, and often hear how certain stories really resonated with a certain client and made a huge difference.

Make it the culture: Make the education of your clients and/or employees a major priority and people will grow. People want to grow. If you give them the right information consistently, and in different formats, they will not only grow, but they will thrive!

The moral of this story….I hate school and homework to this day, but if I find a benefit in something or find it interesting I’m ALL IN. Find ways to get your clients interested by showing them the benefits that they truly care about and they will be all in as well.


Steve Long