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How To Meet 6 Basic Human Needs Of Your Fitness Clients

by James Anderson
Posted: August 01, 2016

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I've always been someone who thrives on growth but never knew exactly why I loved it so much. It wasn't until I stumbled upon a Tony Robbins CD where he spoke about the fact that all our decisions stem out of a desire to gain 1 of 6 basic human needs (one being "growth"), that things clicked, writes James Anderson. 

Once I began to action this newfound knowledge into my personal life with great success, I quickly realised the power it could also have on my business. After all, they're called "human" needs, right?

So what are these 6 basic human needs? They are:

  1. Certainty
  2. Uncertainty 
  3. Significance 
  4. Connection 
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Robbins says that all of our decisions are based on our desire to gain a sense of one or more of these needs. Of course, there are other reasons, but if you cut to the core of it, these are the 6 most basic reasons why you make decisions.

It’s also important to note that the way we achieve each of these needs can differ vastly from person to person. For example, one person may try to gain a sense of significance by becoming a motivational speaker, whereas another person may use bullying to try to satisfy the same basic need. It all comes down to your intentions. 

I mentioned in my last article about the importance of humanising your interaction with your fitness clients. Well, understanding these human needs is a great way to translate this humanity to your clients. 

So let's dig in a little deeper. 

1.    Certainty

The 6 basic human needs - runner tying his florescent shoe, full of certainty

It doesn’t matter who you are, I'm sure we can all agree that it's a nice feeling to have a sense of certainty in our lives. It's a place where we feel safe and more at ease about the future. 

From a personal training perspective, if you can give your clients a sense of certainty, then they'll be far more likely to be your client for life. 

2.    Uncertainty

I think this one would be better if it was called 'variety' as it could easily get confused with being the opposite of point one. It’s not. Although variety is said to be the spice of life, when it comes to the personal training industry, you have to be careful with who you're dealing with. 

This is where emotional intelligence comes in as some clients may love a highly varied training experience, other would be quickly scared off. It's up to you to listen and program effectively based on what your client is telling you. 

Far too often, trainers are blinded by their ego that they fail to see the importance in giving clients what they’re asking for.

3.    Significance

Fitness trainer and client with dumbbells on gym mat

This one is huge. Because at the end of the day, don’t we all want to feel significant? The best part about this need for us, as personal trainers, is that since we’re training most clients in a one-on-one environment, we have an amazing opportunity to make our clients feel incredibly important. 

My big piece of advice here is just to be completely present and engaged with your clients, focusing entirely on them and making them feel like no one else matters for that session. It will be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your business. Read more advice from 18 of Australia's top fitness experts here.

Attention is a highly valuable and precious resource. Look them in the eye, listen intently and show them that they’re not just a number but that you’re grateful for them being part of your business. 

4.    Connection

Your fitness clients have rapport and are high 5-ing on the beach

This is almost a flow on from the above. If you make someone feel significant, then chances are they’re going to feel a strong sense of connection with you. 

Again, being present and engaged with your clients is the easiest way to ensure you build a strong rapport with them. Rapport-building is one of the key steps to ensuring you achieve success in business as it shows that you understand being “human”. 

Remember how good it feels to meet like-minded people that just "get us"? Well, be that person. 

5.    Growth

Assessing her personal training client's results and time

As I mentioned earlier, this is one of my personal favourites and something that I base a lot of my decision-making on. When it comes to personal training, you've obviously got to get results for your clients to make them feel like they're growing, learning, and developing. 

Just be careful of putting growth before significance and/or connection as personal training is a very close relationship between two people that I believe should be first based on rapport-building. 

Results come after time - don't forget that you've still got to build enough trust so you can get to those results. But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't track your client's measurements, scale weight, body fat percentage, strength performance, and aerobic performance. 

Because if they have a high desire for growth, then this information will be exactly what you need to show them, to ensure they're getting everything they want from you. 

6.    Contribution

Look, you’d be right in wondering how you can fulfill someone’s desire for contribution in a personal training environment. Although it's not usually high on the scale of why people come to you, sometimes it can make all the difference in why people stay with you. 

I personally run charity boot camp events and free speaking engagements with the hope to raise awareness and funds for much-needed causes. Although I do this because I love helping and contributing to something greater than myself, what I've found is that my clients also love being part of those events as they get a chance to contribute too. 

What next?

Bootcamp training group being supportive and getting fit

Although this is a lot of information to handle, I suggest you just start the process by becoming more aware of your own decisions and thought processes with these basic human needs in mind. You may just find yourself changing the way you look and approach things, and start seeing a more positive outcome.

Then maybe begin focusing your time and attention on being more “human” in trying to understand your potential customer and what their greatest needs and desires are. Because at the end of the day, a bench press is a bench press, a six-pack is a six-pack, but satisfying these 6 basic human needs of your fitness clients (whilst improving their health) will always create a great business. 

Don't forget that everyone is different and as such, their needs will differ, but just ask yourself the following questions consistently:

  • Which needs are most important to my customer?
  • Which are least important? 
  • How can I satisfy those needs?

...and you'll do fine!

Enjoying James Anderson's fitness, health and life advice? Read more of his articles on our Health and Wellbeing blog.


James Anderson

James is the owner of a women’s only tribe based at Bondi Beach that focuses on strength and conditioning team training for optimal outcomes and long-lasting solutions.

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