newsletter Mar 14, 2024

Rejection, Conversations and Individualism

By Dane Hitchon

About the Author

I'm Dane Hitchon, a personal trainer with 15 years of expertise. Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working closely with a diverse range of clients, from premier league footballers, international powerlifting athletes, world record holders, to clients facing profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). Becoming acknowledged for my skills and expertise, consideration, and inclusive approach, I am recognised for being committed to tailoring fitness results that meet the unique needs of each client.

An Evolving World

It occurred to me that in-person coaching is becoming less prevalent for some individuals, potentially evolving across the industry, due to societal changes. When I began my journey as a Trainer, Facebook had only been accessible to the general public for about three years, and primarily used for light-hearted activities like throwing virtual sheep or poking someone you had a crush on. During those early days, the idea of establishing a fully virtual business for something that was traditionally conducted in person didn't even cross my mind. Back then, success as a trainer was determined by your performance on the gym floor. 

Learning The Ropes

Rejection. The most significant concern for new personal trainers has always been the fear of approaching someone and facing rejection. One memorable experience for me involved introducing myself to someone, and their only response was to raise their hand to block my face. Did I take it personally? No, and that's the sentiment most trainers struggle to adopt. It's impossible to predict someone's mood or receptiveness at any given moment. Therefore, I decided to detach emotionally and view it as a numbers game. I realised making 30 points of contact on the gym floor would result in three consultations, and from those consultations, one person would likely sign up. This approach served as a valuable system to minimise the emotional impact of rejection.

The art of conversation plays a vital role. One of my most lucrative client acquisitions originated from a conversation about football (soccer). I noticed he wore a football shirt from the team I support to the gym, providing an easy entry point for conversation. After several exchanges about football, he inquired, "What’s this PT stuff about then?" We had organically built rapport through our shared interest in meaningful conversation. Therefore, resist the urge to hastily steer discussions toward training topics, many individuals in the general population are not as passionate about fitness as you might be and you may come off as insincere.

It's crucial to focus on the individual in front of you. I often observe trainers on the gym floor or in consultations being overly eager to make a sale, or too devoted to a specific training doctrine. This can lead to neglecting important questions or being too fixated on a singular approach, limiting their ability to cater to a diverse clientele. It is more effective to gather information and involve the client in building their routine. Consider their current life commitments and other responsibilities that constrain their time. Your role is to alleviate the stress of training and dieting, not contribute to it. Avoid overwhelming clients, as excessive pressure can lead to minimal compliance, causing them to feel like they are already falling short. Make it clear to potential clients that the approach is tailored to their unique needs,

Staying the Course

The journey as a personal trainer has taught me invaluable lessons about handling rejection and how coaching clients is an ever-evolving role. It's crucial to understand that rejection isn't a measure of personal worth. I’ve come to grasp the importance of building rapport, managing emotions through adopting a numbers-based perspective, and recognising that success is an unfolding, gradual process. Building connections extends beyond fitness. I've learned to navigate conversations delicately, respecting individual lifestyles and preferences. It's in these personal touches –- resilience, genuine connections, and tailored approaches – the true core of effective personal training unfolds.