How to deal with negative clients as an online fitness coach

By Johnny and Yusef

What’s within your remit?

We’re sometimes asked how we deal with overly negative clients as online fitness coaches.

One of the coaches we work with has recently shared an example of a client whose attitude they’re struggling with.

This client hasn’t been as consistent as he could be in his training (but doesn’t have the best genetics either).

The coach has recommended that he sees a professional, but the client claims that this doesn’t help.

The coach wants to help. But he has reached the point that they’re finding the client’s constant negativity draining, and doesn’t know what else he can do.

A photo of personal trainers at the gym

This is the way we see it:

Your clients have come to you with a fitness or wellness program-related problem.

If someone is asking for help with something within that remit, you’re the person to help.

This might include:

  • if they’re not eating enough protein
  • if they need help with their technique
  • something’s off with their programme

But sometimes, there’s a major functional bottleneck in their ability to engage with the programme. This might include:

  • psychological problems
  • issues with their mindset
  • illness
  • injury

When this is the case, it’s best to refer the client (and their problem) to a professional.

What’s your marketing saying about you?

If you feel like you’re consistently dealing with negative clients, it may be worth looking into your marketing strategy. Look at whether there’s something in your content that’s very pain-point-heavy.

You might not even realise you’re doing this. But this sort of content tends to resonate more with emotional buyers who are vibing at that level.

And remember: when you’re creating content online, you’re putting out a vibe at scale.

So, sometimes what seems like a delivery or sales problem is actually a marketing problem.

Setting boundaries

As we’ve mentioned, if you do experience a particularly negative client, you’re better off referring them to a professional who can deal with any issues outside of your remit as an online fitness coach.

But if they keep coming back to you for advice with issues that aren’t your place to deal with, here are a few thing you can do:

  • Gently set boundaries
  • Remind them of the remit that you’ve agreed to coach them with
  • Remind them that a specialist with be better equipped to help them with any underlying issues

Sometimes, people won’t want to accept this.

You can’t help everyone.

And it’s normal to want to do whatever you can to help somebody.

But have enough faith in your own online programme to know what you can do to help clients… and where your limits lie.

Try to connect the reason that a client hired you with the fundamental problem that they’re dealing with.

This will help them to understand that it is connected.

And it will help them see what’s getting in the way of them reaching their goal.

Useful resources

Here are a few more things you might find useful if you’re making the move to online coaching.

We’ve put in all the hard work to compare personal training apps, do that you don’t have to. You can watch this video here:

We’ve also put together some free online training that takes you behind the scenes of our online fitness business. You can access this here.

Finally, you can book in a call here if you’re interested in speaking to a member of our team for an informal chat about we how we might be able to help you grow your online business.

free video guide: ⬇️

The EXACT process we used to build PropaneFitness to 15k/month:

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