How to establish boundaries with fitness clients |

It’s all fun and games until you need to start charging people for your services. Many fitness trainers struggle to find the right way to charge people for services, which is a problem especially for those who are just starting out. There are plenty of tasks to get involved in that have no charge and can be easily done on a budget. But then there are others that may require you to get materials, or include a training period, or can be charged for. Knowing when to charge and for what, and how to get paid, is something everyone should start doing now in order to preserve their sanity. Here are 4 tips to help you establish boundaries in the fitness world and get paid for your services.

In today’s society, there are many ways for a fitness client to get in touch with you… by phone, email and social media, not to mention the myriad of ways they can find you online. Losing control of your personal information can be extremely difficult. It’s not just a matter of protecting your business, it’s about protecting your personal information.

We all know how important it is to be healthy, especially when it comes to our minds, bodies, and spirits. But unless you are a fitness professional, it is difficult to establish boundaries between your personal and professional lives, especially when fitness is your passion. In this article, I will share how I maintain strict boundaries between my personal and professional lives and why that is important.

When a customer asks you out for a drink, what do you do? Or a 2 a.m. text message? Uncomfortable circumstances may occur when you are a health and fitness expert working directly with individuals who need your assistance. Set limits while developing trust between the trainer and the client using this advice.


Details: Let’s call her a certified trainer. Sue – asked for help with a severe issue in our private Facebook group. Her customer, who was also a coworker, was attracted to her.

Sue was adamantly opposed.

She was concerned about this client’s objectives. With this product, he has already dropped 50 pounds.

She didn’t want to be a teacher or a guardian, however. His actions were emotionally draining.

Sue attempted to separate herself from her client, but he grew enraged and self-destructive as a result. His health started to worsen, and he reverted to emotional eating.

Sue recognized the dynamics from her experience as a coach. She was well aware that the client’s dependence had deteriorated. She also realized that she was becoming more irritated.

It was obvious that she was disoriented.

  • She’d have to cope with some unpleasant emotions: the client would be annoyed.
  • It would work in the other direction: asking them to alter their behavior would result in withdrawal, which is harmful.
  • She was also in a tight and tense relationship with her coworker: they worked together every day.

In health and fitness coaching, difficult circumstances like Sue’s are frequent.

While therapists, psychologists, and doctors have received official training to deal with boundary problems that occur in the client-practitioner relationship, fitness professionals often do not.

Consider it a crash course on conducting, complete with practical skills you can use right now, no matter where you are in your career.


The client-physician interaction is personal in nature.

This holds true whether you’re a personal trainer, a group fitness instructor, a psychotherapist, a massage therapist, or a yoga instructor.

The topic of deep emotions is addressed. Bodies are in jeopardy.

Even if it isn’t romantic closeness, it is intimacy.

Because of this closeness, it is very common (and natural) for trainers and customers to develop emotions (both good and negative) towards one other. In professional relationships, feelings of friendship, compassion, protection, jealousy, rage, and/or dissatisfaction emerge.

Everything devolves into chaos without honesty and clear expectations.

Setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries ensures that emotions do not get in the way of the actual goal: assisting the client in achieving their health objectives via self-directed action.

Everyone stands about wondering, “What am I permitted to do here?” if we don’t have well defined and recognized responsibilities. And how should we interact with one another?

We feel pushed and tugged in various ways as fears, frustrations, and old grudges emerge, typically in a vague and furious manner.

This is why we need limits.

Boundaries are the invisible lines that separate the service provider from the client or patient, as well as the social (and occasionally physical) conventions and practices that define the firm’s position.

  • who is in charge of what (for example, who is the trainer and who is the customer);
  • what these positions involve (for example, who leads and how); what these roles imply (for example, who leads and how); and
  • the professional relationship’s limits (for example, the coach’s accessibility to the client or what is addressed during sessions).

Customers will respect your limits.

  • Coaches should make them feel at ease and secure, and they should believe that they will act in their best interests.
  • Understand that the coach’s attention is not an indication of romantic desire, but rather the general attention of a caring and concerned professional (or any other attachment).
  • are expected to be mature and responsible, with the ability to control their emotions, accept responsibility for their actions, and maintain consistency.

These trainers are examples of good boundaries:

  • Avoiding ethical blunders or operating outside of our field of expertise.
  • ensure that our customers understand who does what, when, and how.
  • Recognize and appreciate our clients as people, despite the inherent power imbalance that comes with coaching.

There are fewer misunderstandings and unpleasant situations when boundaries are well defined.

It’s usually a wonderful thing when it happens.

Having clearly defined, firm, and healthy boundaries allows us to invest our emotional bank account in solid coaching relationships that keep us safe and well as coaches while also assisting our clients in achieving their objectives.

The appropriate (or evil) behavior is determined by the situation.

  • There is some greenery: Almost all of the time, it’s very pleasant. When greeting a customer, for example, smile and establish eye contact.
  • There are several ambiguities: It’s a little more ambiguous, and it relies on the relationship’s context and nature. Give a hug to a customer who has just taken their first puff, for example.
  • There’s also a no-go zone: unambiguous and always a no. Steel that isn’t from consumers, for example, seems to be rather obvious.

Boundaries, however, are not ubiquitous in real life.

As a result (and to add to the confusion), the identical activity might be green for one client and red for another.

It’s quite acceptable to exchange presents with a customer with whom you’ve developed a trustworthy and dependable connection.

But what about that new customer you think is head over heels in love with you? Exchanging presents may convey the incorrect impression and make the relationship’s purpose unclear.


Context is crucial.

You have greater freedom to approach each other, joke around, and potentially do or say inappropriate things as you gain experience, confidence, and maturity.

You must follow tighter standards in newer, more complex, or convoluted partnerships.

Sports coaching is a bit behind the times when it comes to ethical standards.

Other areas of service, such as psychiatry and social work, follow strict rules of ethics.

Ethics training is required for many mental and physical health care professionals, but it is not required for educators.

However, as a coach, you must act ethically, which includes establishing and maintaining clear limits.

And for the trainers we certify, I’ve developed my own code of ethics.

You may start by adopting our code of ethics as a starting point and adding to it as needed, based on your own values and the specifics of your business.

Code of Ethics for Coaching Certification by the National Professional Coaches Association

In your professional capacity as a coach, you:

Acting in the client’s best interests. Prioritize their well-being, safety, values, objectives, and comfort if at all feasible.

Customers’ worth and dignity should be respected. Provide professional politeness, compassion, and care to all customers.

Protect your clients’ privacy and confidentiality. This includes the following:

  • Follow industry-standard data security procedures, such as B. protecting personal logins and storing customer data securely.
  • Be cautious what you say about your customers and who you speak to about them.
  • Customers’ personal or identifiable information should not be shared.
  • Before posting something on social media, get permission.

Be truthful. Make sure you gain your consumers’ respect and trust. Do not exploit your consumers in any way, whether financially or otherwise. Don’t attempt to take advantage of a customer relationship for personal gain (aside from coaching fees, of course).

Act with objectivity. Know what is required of you in terms of rules, regulations, and processes, and follow them fairly and correctly for each customer.

Set clear, specific, and realistic goals for yourself. Define the parameters of the coaching agreement right away (e.g., payment, meeting frequency, how coaching will operate, etc.) and then talk with the client about how the agreement will be carried out. Be honest with the customer about what he or she may realistically anticipate.

Define your professional limits. As much as possible, stay away from numerous partnerships (e.g., coaching friends or family members; friendships with clients). If you must have several relationships, be aware of the power imbalance that coaching entails and be clear about which hat you are wearing at all times.

Be aware of your capacity and range limitations. If you are unable to assist a customer for ethical or professional reasons, if at all feasible, send them to another trainer or service provider.

Maintain a current set of abilities. Strive for professional excellence, mastery, and competence. Make every effort to be a respectable representation of your field.

8 methods to stay away from issues

Educators may establish, create, and enforce limits in their professional activity in a variety of ways. To get you started, we have eight choices.

Your connection will be clearer, more pleasant, and more confident as you utilize more tools.

There are other times when things aren’t that bad.

1. Be aware of your emotional radar.

When your boundaries are crossed (or trampled on), your body usually lets you know.

In the company of a specific client, for example, you may realize that you feel uncomfortable, humiliated, or even disgusted.

Control yourself if you notice these emotions.

  • Are responsibilities and contracts clearly defined?
  • Are you being asked to perform things that make you uncomfortable (implicitly or explicitly)?
  • Do you come into contact with TMI material as a result of your client’s remarks or the pictures he sends you?

If you can figure out what’s troubling you, attempt to solve the problem:

  • Excellent behavior.
  • Communicate in a straightforward, confident, and mature manner. (To learn how to accomplish this, continue reading.)
  • Make people aware of your limits and the working relationship’s expectations. Don’t presume that others will automatically know what is appropriate conduct. Or maybe not.

2. Manage the distance between you and your consumers using body language.

We speak a lot without saying anything.

When it comes to expressing and interpreting body language, people have a kind of sixth sense. What we and others do with our bodies is worth a thousand words.


This implies you may influence the connection between the trainer and the customer by using your body as a tool.

Customers may be guided or directed through nonverbal signals.

If a customer approaches you too closely, you may lean back or walk away a bit to increase the space between you, or place an item (such as a table or bench) between you and them.

This implies, without using words, that this is the ideal location for us to meet.

In other instances, you may wish to urge people to keep their personal lives private.

Making eye contact and (subtly) mirroring your clients’ motions is an easy method to accomplish this. This demonstrates your interest and presence, as well as a feeling of belonging.

Stand or sit with a decent yet reasonably relaxed posture to convey confidence and authority. You seem to be a person who deserves to be appreciated and heard.

3. Use your voice to achieve the appropriate mix of compassion and authority.

Votes have influence.

Your voice has the ability to command, soothe, calm, or dominate others, as well as assist you establish and maintain limits.

A friendly yet professional tone, on the whole, communicates interest and authority.

Unless you’re asking a question, speak clearly and at a moderate speed, and resist the temptation to adopt a rising tone at the conclusion of a phrase. (Is it just me, or does everything seem like a question?) Is that to say you’re not to be taken seriously?)

To convey the customer’s attitude, match your voice level and tempo to theirs.

If you feel a client needs to go in a different direction, you can use your voice to gently guide them: speak more slowly and softly to a client who is agitated and speaks quickly and loudly; speak more softly to a client who is intimidated, frightened, or defensive; or speak sternly and clearly to a client who is overly friendly.

4. Write as if you were a professional (or at least like a good high school student)

Even whether your primary activity is one-on-one meetings with customers, office discussions, or workouts at the gym, you’ll almost certainly be writing a lot: emails, messages, handouts, contracts, and wall charts.

Your writing reflects your professional image, so brush up on the basics: Make sure that punctuation is right, that your spelling is correct, and that your message is clear and succinct.

Ideally, before the connection with the coach starts, ensure that signs are clearly displayed and that contracts have been read and understood.

Contracts and signatures Tell the client what to anticipate from you, what your responsibilities are, and what you’re there for (and what you’re not). If you plan ahead of time, you’ll have less issues afterwards.

5. Make informed consent a standard part of the process.

If you’ve ever gone to the gym, had a massage, had psychotherapy, or joined a sports team, you’ve probably had to get informed permission and sign a waiver.

The consent form usually covers topics including the scope of services and obligations, as well as possible customer hazards. This is a valuable skill for every trainer to have.

However, this does not have to be the case.

The informed consent process may be a great and helpful technique for establishing limits and making clients feel heard, appreciated, and comforted if it is made a continuous discussion.

Every few weeks, schedule a meeting with the customer to discuss the agreement. You may start a discussion on subjects like B. :

  • What is your current situation? Can you tell me how you feel about our procedure or how you feel about your present situation?
  • Are you in agreement with what’s going on? Is this what you had hoped for? Do you want to do anything different instead?
  • Do you know what’s going on right now? Do you understand why we do something and/or what the risks and rewards are as a customer? Are you aware of how these activities connect to your goals?
  • Do you wish to continue on this path? Or are you in need of a rest? Informed consent implies that the client is aware of his or her right to reject any suggestion made by the coach.

6. Take care of your time.

Do you respond to a client who messages you at 2 a.m.?

Customers may reach us through email, SMS, or phone at any time of day or night. Customers may come in whenever it is convenient for them, even though your opening hours are explicitly specified on your website, in contracts, or on signs outside your business.

It’s all right. (Assuming they don’t come knocking on your private front door at 12 a.m.) This is a red zone situation.)

Let consumers know what you accept and what they should anticipate when it comes to how and when you react to them.

Customers should expect you to be accessible at these hours if z. B. begins responding emails at 10:30 p.m. Customers may expect you to react nearly quickly if you consistently respond to communications within three minutes.

You are the one who determines your boundaries and what is healthy for you. Turn off your computer before supper and answer your emails in the morning if you don’t want your nights to be flooded with customer emails.

Similarly, in face-to-face encounters with consumers, you may set the tone for how you use your time.

It’s up to you to gently but firmly remind a client if he’s often late or skips meetings, or if he’s always talking about who he met over the weekend instead of how his meal plan is going.

It’s sometimes essential to have an adult discussion.

Consider the following scenario:

Hey, I saw you were 20 minutes late for the past three meetings you attended. Is there a nice moment for you all of the time? In this situation, we agree to begin the session on time in order to avoid cutting the appointment short.

Or :

You seem to have had a fantastic weekend! But I’d want to speak with you about your diet. I know that one of your objectives is to eat healthier, and I’m interested as to how you go about doing so. The more we concentrate on the discussion, the more we will be able to fulfill both of our requirements.

Instead of approaching these discussions as competitors, act as if you and your customer are on the same side. Maintain a pleasant demeanor while concentrating on achieving what you both want!

7. Strict dress code.

One of the perks of being a coach is that you may wear anything you want!

One of the benefits of being a coach is that you may wear anything you want! This makes it difficult to determine what feels nice while also assisting you in demonstrating a squat or running agility steps.

It is feasible, however, to exude professionalism in sports equipment via cautious choosing.

Your customers will perceive you less like a possible companion or hooker and more like a professional if you seem professional.

Make sure your clothing are clean and organized, and that everything is in its proper place. The rooms, um… are maintained in order.

Your clothes should also be environmentally friendly. Sportswear is beneficial to those who exercise in a gym. Casual clothes is usually the greatest choice for the dress code if you work in an office.

8. If physical contact is needed, think about how your consumer may react.

Bodywork is a component of the profession for personal trainers, massage therapists, yoga teachers, chiropractors, and others.

Request that customers sign a document acknowledging that they will be impacted.

Even if contracts have been signed, you should always ask customers for permission before touching them, particularly in potentially sensitive or unpleasant places. (This is especially essential in cases when contact is misinterpreted, such as when a male trainer rubs a client’s buttocks.)

If you’re a coach, use this checklist to figure out what limits you shouldn’t cross while working with a client.

  • Is it OK to touch my client throughout our professional relationship? Is it okay if I ask? B. Is it lawful for me to touch my client in a particular manner as a massage therapist or personal trainer?
  • Because of our societal backgrounds, does touching my customer create problems? Isn’t it a sophisticated method of expressing who you are and who they are? Are you a man, a woman, an older or younger person, a coach, a customer (and so on)?
  • In a cultural or societal setting, does touching my client seem sense? Touch has different meanings in different cultures. And culture may take many forms. For example, your local MMA school may think strangling someone with your hips is perfectly acceptable, but it doesn’t look good at your regular gym.
  • What are the advantages of contacting my client? Do I assist them in learning the activity, provide constructive comments, establish a genuine personal connection, and/or comfort them?
  • What are the dangers of contacting my client? Perhaps I’m infringing on their personal space, making them uncomfortable, or giving out signals that might be misinterpreted?
  • What makes me want to contact a consumer in the first place? Is it in their best interests or in mine?
  • Do I have any information about my client’s personal history or degree of comfort with touch? Some individuals are afraid of being touched because they have been physically or sexually abused in the past. Because you’re unlikely to know all of your client’s personal information, expect he’ll be wary of the contact at first. Assess the patient’s comfort by moving gently and cautiously.
  • What is the best way to let the consumer know what to expect? Explaining and then asking is an easy method to gauge comfort. I place my hand under your left armpit, for example, to see whether your latent muscles are awakened. Is this typical?
  • What sort of responses might I expect? Inquire based on your body language. If your client gives you a strong handshake, establishes eye contact, and smiles, you should most likely reciprocate. If they pull back or become rigid while you are holding them, release them.
  • Prepare a variety of options. When providing proprioceptive input to a client, a neutral item is often used (e.g., let the buttocks touch the wall when teaching hip joints). If you can’t kiss, a less menacing touch on your upper arm would suffice, or just smile and wave.

And, despite the fact that it should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway:

Please, for the love of God, don’t touch your customers in an improper way. Teach yourself what permission and attack are if you don’t know what they are.

What should I do now?

Be cautious if your border detector goes off.

Do not hesitate to take action and avoid the scenario that you are worried about.

Doing so on a regular basis aggravates the problem.

The ideal approach is prevention, but if prevention isn’t enough, you may need to intervene personally in this uncomfortable scenario.

Prepare papers or talking points in advance, if feasible, such as emails, text messages, or a written explanation of what occurred from your perspective, and consider a general approach before the tough discussion.

Keep in mind that you should never have to deal with someone who insults you, is aggressive, or crosses your limits.

You should never accept a scenario that is physically or mentally damaging, whether it be a continuous sequence of misunderstandings, someone who regularly makes you feel like you’ve been ripped off, or blatant harassment.

Either leave or seek professional help.

Do you want to learn how to enhance your coaching skills?

It’s no secret that expert trainers emerge through time, typically with the help of a mentor or coach, via training and continuous practice.

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The good news is that our next level 2 certification course will begin on September 22nd, 2021.

Do you wish to have complete faith in your teaching abilities? Do you want to attract (and retain) more customers? To improve and expand your practice? Then you should pursue Level 2 certification.

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This is the only course in the world that will teach you how to master the art of coaching, resulting in greater outcomes for your customers and more revenue for you.

Because we only accept a limited number of experts and the program is always filled, I strongly advise you to join our VIP list below. You have the option of signing up 24 hours ahead of time in this instance. Even better, you’ll get a substantial reduction on the program’s overall cost.

[Note: The Level 2 Masterclass is only for Level 1 certification students and graduates. So, if you haven’t already, join up for this program here].

Interested? Your name will be added to the VIP list. When you book your seat 24 hours in advance, you may save up to 37%.

The 22nd is a Wednesday. We will open registration for the next level 2 certification course in September.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve put up the following VIP list for you, which includes two perks.

  • Paying less than the competition. We aim to encourage individuals who want to start coaching and are committed to achieving greatness. As a result, when you join the VIP Masterclass list, you’ll get a discount of up to 37% off the entire fee.
  • Sign up 24 hours ahead of time to improve your chances of earning a spot. An NP workshop is only available twice a year. We anticipate the tickets to sell out fast due to strong demand and a small number of available seats. However, if you join the Masterclass VIP list, you will have the opportunity to sign up 24 hours before the rest of the world.

We are willing to mentor you for a full year in the PN Level 2 Certification Masterclass if you are serious about becoming one of the top trainers in the world.



To view the sources of information used in this article, go here.

If you are already a fitness professional, you are probably pretty good at jumping on the phone during your workouts with clients to get their feedback on form and technique, or helping them to get over their plateau. But, what to do when you want to end that session? It is fine to want to end a workout session. But, what are you going to do when your client doesn’t want to end? It may be helpful to know the best way to end a session, so that you can be sure that your commitment is ending on the same page.. Read more about limitations that exist when offering health, exercise and well-being advice and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you establish professional boundaries with clients?

It is important to establish professional boundaries with your clients. This means not going above and beyond what they are paying for and not letting them take advantage of you.

What are the boundaries of a personal trainer?

A personal trainer is someone who helps a person achieve their fitness goals. They may be hired by an individual or a company to help with the physical aspects of their job, such as running a marathon or lifting weights.

How do you attract fitness clients?

I would recommend that you start by advertising your services on social media. You can also advertise in local newspapers and magazines.

Related Tags

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • relationship between personal trainer and client
  • are personal trainers supposed to touch you
  • personal training female clients
  • male personal trainer female client
  • signs your personal trainer likes you

Una is a food website blogger motivated by her love of cooking and her passion for exploring the connection between food and culture. With an enthusiasm for creating recipes that are simple, seasonal, and international, she has been able to connect with people around the world through her website. Una's recipes are inspired by her travels across Mexico, Portugal, India, Thailand, Australia and China. In each of these countries she has experienced local dishes while learning about the culture as well as gaining insight into how food can be used as a bridge between different cultures. Her recipes are often creative combinations of traditional ingredients from various different cuisines blended together to create something new.