It’s Not The App

I was talking to my longtime friend Kevin yesterday about client retention.


Kevin’s owned a gym for over a decade. He’s been a PN coach for years. And when Coronavirus hit, Kevin quickly pivoted to online training with great success.


Kevin didn’t keep every client when he took his coaching online. But he knew, in advance, which clients would stick around, and which wouldn’t.


Over the years, Kevin’s coaching process has evolved. The cornerstone now is motivational interviewing: getting to the client’s reason for training.


Precision Nutrition teaches the “five Whys”; Brad Overstreet uses motivational interviewing with each of his online clients each day; Bonnie Skinner uses it with her psychotherapy practice; Jennifer Broxterman uses motivational interviewing at NutritionRx; Josh Martin teaches motivational interviewing in the first lesson of the TBC First Degree course.


It’s pretty important. And Motivational Interviewing is only one of the key tools Kevin uses.


Many coaches worry too much about the features of coaching, and too little about the principles. On this, Kevin and I agree.












Empower through education.


Personal trainers pivot to online training easily, because they’re used to working from principles–they talk to each of their clients one on one. They adjust on the fly. They track progress. They teach while they work.


Many group trainers struggle to make the same pivot, but not Kevin. Because Kevin uses the same principles in a group setting:

He starts with motivational interviewing.

He reviews his clients’ goals and progress with them regularly.

He focuses on habits instead of diets.

He teaches: his clients know more than most of the coaches in his city.


Kevin said he could predict which clients would quit during the COVID crisis: they were the clients who didn’t really get deep into their “Why” during the intake process. If they said, “I just want to get fit,” then Kevin feels the connection isn’t deep enough to keep them long-term.


Kevin and I often see coaches say things like:

“That diet doesn’t work!”

“That programming is garbage.”

“The app makes it hard to communicate with my clients.”


And we agree: it’s not the app. It’s the coach. It’s always the coach.


A coach’s job is to find the tools that will get clients results. Maybe that’s a reverse hyper machine…but maybe that’s motivational interviewing. It’s probably not an app.


It’s our responsibility to get deep: to actually know a client’s goals, and WHY they care about them. When we address the root of the problem, it’s less important how we deliver our service. In a gym? Online? It hardly matters, as long as the client knows you’re guiding them to their results.




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