By Eric Said - Leader of Learning
on Monday, 13 November 2017
  • Personal Trainers
  • Fitness Industry
  • Health

Typecasting PT clients – Risk or Reward?

As fitness professionals our role in supporting client’s achieve their health and fitness goals is to be able to better understand their behavioural patterns in maintaining exercise adherence.  There are a number of tools that can be used to further understand the personality traits of clients.  Examples may include Myers-Briggs, DISC profiling, or 5 love languages.

It is quite common to judge a book by its cover during the initial consultation and then over time you come to realise that you got them all wrong.  This is only recognised when authentic client-focussed professional relationships are established.

Typecasting is the process of a person becoming strongly associated with a particular character.  In today’s blog, we will investigate the range of clients that you may encounter within gyms and fitness centres and simple solutions to support them achieve their goals.  However, it leads us to the all-important question, can we typecast clients when we know that everyone is an individual and should be treated accordingly?

  • Nervous nelly – continual reassurance, education, injury prevention, introverted

Training to reduce stress and anxiety in a safe and private setting.  Calm and tactile Personal Trainer.

Solution - Client open to varied exercise depending on the instruction and trust developed by the PT

  • Newby – new to the gym environment. Seeks support and guidance of training principles and appropriate and correct use of equipment, along with all facets of health

Solution - Training to support client with nutritional guidance, education, assessment protocols for re-assessment.  Goal setting and optimistic of making change via the gym training environment

  • Baggage carrier – listening, change of focus, professional conduct, referral to allied health

Solution - Training to be in the company of a different circle to take their mind of past history, behavioural change to be empowered and develop a mindset towards moving towards goals and optimism

  • Medical self-conscious – fear and apprehension to exercise in further injuring themselves, communication with medical and allied health, education of body form and function, continual reassurance

Solution - Training to redevelop self confidence in their body, patient transition to training intensity with appropriate exercise progression and long term training programs.  Specific testing to determine level of improvement with their body

  • I’m easy – relaxed approach to exercise and willing to follow the lead of the PT. Open to suggestions and insights but really happy to be led, very compliant and accommodating

Solution - Training as part of a bigger, more global goal rather than having to focus on the smaller details within each training session.  Goals are for a greater purpose and happy to work towards them in a steady and appropriate pace

  • Perfectionist – resources obtained to assist with performance, attention to detail, analysing PT on principles behind training and physiological changes to the body. Eg bodybuilder, figure competitor

Solution - Training program developed in liaison with client to maintain transparency of research and development supporting reasons for training program.  Training split with a desired goal and target specific muscle groups.  Collect data and information to compare results from previous records

  • Grunter – attention grabber, extroverted, training at high intensity

Solution - Training to bring mindfulness back to exercise to prevent injury and the ability to focus, conversation and affirmation to support ego and achieve results.  Varied training principles and equipment stimuli to enable client to train with drops sets and forced reps. Spotting techniques are paramount for the grunter to prevent injury

  • Wolfpack – training in small ‘likeminded’ groups for support, confidence in groups, rest and ‘loud’ conversation between sets are high, volume performed is limited

Solution - Training with risk of injury with higher loads beyond training age and cooling down between sets.  Education on training principles to achieve results, maintaining intensity for each client during session

  • Go hard or go home – Competition is key, high performer, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), results driven

Solution - Training with correct spotting technique, appropriate training principles to achieve more effective results, client will need to leave feeling smashed after the session with no more in the tank.  Training programs in short term to allow full client to participate at full capacity without overtraining.  PT helps client understand the principles of recovery and overtraining outside the gym setting

  • Risk taker – have a go as client trusts in the expertise of the PT. Moving into new territory with exercise but open to new ideas and experiences with a level of excitement and adventure

Solution - Training with agility and plyometrics to develop new skills and adaptations that can be utilised outside of the gym setting.  Education of training principles and correct form so that it is applied elsewhere once the new skill is learned

  • Tight rope walker – The risk taker with caution. Willing to try new things with a few attempts and once they have psychologically prepared the new skill or lift.  Preparation is key and what makes them distinct from the original risk taker

Solution - Training to fast track the new adventures with reassurance and correct spotting techniques and achieve new goals in performance

  • Cardio rat – feeling safe with the confines of the cardio equipment with screen to view and/or music to listen to. Enjoys being within their own space or zone but may not venture out to the other areas of the gym as they have little education and training in correct execution of exercise equipment

Solution - Training with cardio as warm up and then utilising all areas of the gym through education and support in the company of their PT.  Empower client to develop the confidence to use the resistance equipment as they come to understand its purpose for their body

  • Mr and Mrs independent – PT is a not a professional of any standard but still a need in their life. Work is paying for the resource and might as well use it with the denial that it is a need in their life

Solution - Training raises awareness that everyone has their unique talents and PT is one of them.  Behavioural change occurs over time with a new outlook and appreciation to the role of PTs in achieving results in the client.  A professional relationship and trust are established to then enable performance to occur in a timely manner

  • Lonesome wanderer – exercises to what is available within the gym with no direction or training goal, seeking education and support but shy to ask for help

Solution - Training with direction, short term and long term programs and at a suitable pace to maintain exercise adherence.  Explore the range of equipment available and follows the lead of the PT

  • Team “social” player – loves training in groups with a collective goal to perform and have a socially good time

Solution - Training in partners and small groups who too want to achieve results with common goals to achieve.  Enjoy a good chat during or after the training session but must still perform and make good use of time by killing two birds with the same stone

  • Lay-off – returning to the gym and/or sport after a lengthy time away from it. Needs to be updated on new training principles to fast track performance and achieving short term goals

Solution - Training must be over time in preventing injury.  Realisation that client cannot perform at level of the past and must enjoy the journey rather than just the outcome.  Patience is key and the body will remember movement patterns of the past, however at initial stages a well-rounded approach to fitness is key

  • Eye roller – exercise is an inconvenience but will still participate, follows direction of PT but with resentment

Solution - Training needs to be varied with stimulating conversation to provide client with additional benefits of exercise.  Not interested in training programs but just let them do what needs to be done and leave feeling like their to-do-list was completed today

  • Vanity Selfie – focus on self, concerned of what others think and perceive of them. Circle of influence versus circle of control is large and will act accordingly to the opinion of others

Solution - Training to demonstrate to others of client’s performance or achievement.  Will listen attentively to PT until challenged by an outsider’s comments.  Record keeping via photo and video records and social media is key to achieving results to show others of progress.


You may even wish to ask your clients which personality type best describes them.  Although we do not encourage you to judge a book by its cover, sometimes typecasting in the first form is a good way to begin developing an understanding of your client and discovering the best ways to build professional and long lasting relationships.

To learn more about clients within the health and fitness industry visit PT National and the unit of work SISFFIT002 Recognise and apply exercise considerations for specific populations.

By Eric Said – PT National Director of Learning