Setting goals for your fitness clients

In order to be successful in any activity it is important to set achievable goals, otherwise you will never know what success looks like or know when you have achieved it. When it comes to health and fitness, it is even more critical to set goals for your clients when they are starting out so you can track their progress and celebrate your clients’ successes along the way. But how do you go about it?

How to set SMART goals in your personal training business?

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. You need to ensure their goals tick off each of these five attributes in order to set them up for success and help you to retain them as a client.

Setting SPECIFIC goals

When setting SPECIFIC goals for your client, you need to ensure they address each aspect of their health. You need to look at the metrics that are important to them and that impact their overall health. We know that the scale doesn’t always tell the full story, neither does their BMI measurement, but if you include goals for all of the relevant metrics to them, you can be sure you are taking a more holistic approach to their training.

For example, you might set them strength goals for lifting weights with a goal of being able to lift a certain weight in a specific exercise. Or you might set them a goal of increasing their stamina so they can run faster and for a longer period of time. Or you might set them a goal of reaching a body weight through a set diet and exercise program. Whatever it is that you decide, it has to be specific and it has to be agreed to by your client.

Setting MEASURABLE goals

Setting a goal of ‘getting fit’ is not going to cut it when it comes to measuring success. Everyone has a different idea of what ‘fit’ looks like and it’s very hard to measure if it’s not compared to another state. Instead of setting the goal of fitness, you can use your specific goals to help you measure success. For example if you set a goal of being able to run three flights of stairs in under 10 seconds, that is something you can easily measure. Of course, this goal only works if your client can’t currently complete the activity within the set time. If they are currently taking double that time to run the three flights of stairs, you may want to give them an interim goal so they can see their progress and feel optimistic about their improvement.

Setting ATTAINABLE goals

The goals you set not only have to be specific, but they must also be realistic. As a Personal Trainer, you can only encourage your client to make the right choices outside of your training sessions, but you cannot stop them from making unhealthy decisions about their diet or lifestyle. However, if you have set realistic and attainable goals together, it is more likely that they will stick to the program because they believe the sacrifice necessary to make the change will be worth it. If goals seem way too hard, they will give up much more easily and you’ll find they remain in a holding pattern, unable to see positive change in their health and fitness.

Setting RELEVANT goals

As we know, clients have different motivations to want personal training services and it is important to know their motivation before setting their goals. If a client wants to lose weight, the goals of lifting certain weights might not be so relevant. Muscle weighs more than fat so while they may be gaining strength, it might not be reflecting positively for them on the scales. Of course as Personal Trainers, we always encourage clients to look beyond the scales, but if that is your client’s main goal, you really need to take that into account to ensure the goals are relevant to them.

Setting TIME-BOUND goals

Clients are much more likely to stay if they feel they are achieving their goals. Unless they only want to maintain their health and flexibility, most want to see changes fairly quickly. If your client wants quick wins, and they usually do, it’s important to set some short-term and also long-term goals.

A stepped approach to goal setting with specific timeframes for each step is going to seem far more achievable for your client. And importantly, don’t forget to celebrate their success over time.


For more information on managing clients or growing your personal training business see the Scheduliser app.

Scheduliser helps you manage your PT clients in an easy-to-use platform with unlimited client capacity, auto appointment reminders and cancelation notices and in-built business insights to help you increase your return, grow your business and save valuable time and money.