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Use These Five Pillars to Build a Consistent Training Program for Your Clients

The key to delivering a successful exercise training program to your clients is to be consistent and allow for individualization. Learn the five components to build a program at your club that will work for all your clients.

There is no right or wrong way to develop a fitness program. What is needed is a training philosophy with key components that keep the program consistent from member to member yet still allows for individualization. This type of a program provides a consistent product to be delivered to every member who walks into your gym. Following are five components that make a complete program.

Pillar No 1: Get off the treadmill.

Many clients have spent the majority of their fitness lives doing nothing but cardio. Mostly likely, they are now coming to you because their go-to cardio routine is no longer working. Their body has become accustomed to cardio and does not respond to it anymore. For others, their body will no longer tolerate it, and they are beginning to experience aches and pains. Whatever the case may be, their body has changed. This means the plan of attack must change. 

By changing the focus of their workouts to strength training, you will provide a new stimulus to their body, as most have never done a lot of strength training. It also allows them to work around any injury issues they may be experiencing.

At first, many clients will be cautious about changing from their tried and true cardio routine to a strength-training routine. Their resistance generally stems from misconceptions about strength training, such as:

  • Female clients typically are afraid of bulking up.
  • Both male and female clients typically are concerned about not getting any cardio with a strength-training program.

These concerns can be overcome by educating clients on the benefits of strength training, how the workouts will be designed so they do not bulk up, and how cardio will be addressed through using alternating sets and heart rate.

Pillar No. 2: Always train the backside. 

We are a society of sitters and spend most of our day in a seated position with poor posture, which results in weak upper back muscles, weak glutes and tight hamstrings, all of which causes back and neck pain. We need to train the muscles on the backside to help restore proper posture. The primary focus is on the muscles of the upper back with exercises such as the TRX Row and the glutes with the kettlebell swing.

Pillar No. 3: Build work capacity.

Looking good is one thing, but having useful muscles and strength are what will make the biggest impact in our clients’ lives. We have all seen the athlete who looks great with his shirt off, but when he gets on the field he can’t play. The same thing happens with many gym goers. Each week they run a few miles on the treadmill, do a few sets of the circuit machines and maybe do a few exercises with light dumbbells, but they still get winded when carrying a suitcase up a few flights of stairs or hurt their back when moving furniture. The problem is that while they work out regularly, they are not building work capacity. This is the ability to perform physical work over an extended period of time without getting tired or hurt.

The fastest route to improving work capacity is through loaded carries, like the farmer's walk, bear hug carries with a sandbag or heavy bag and sled pushes. Designing the workouts to use non-competing compound sets and kettlebell and barbell complexes is also an effective way to increase work capacity.

Pillar No. 4: Total body movement.

The body works as one unit, not as separate groups of muscles. Therefore, it should be trained as one unit. Focusing on multi-joint movements, such as the deadlift, squat, overhead press, the pull-up, lunges and loaded carries, will create a higher metabolic response in the body than focusing on isolation exercises. Train the whole body to focus on hitting each movement pattern every workout. Additionally, you also will build a body that is functional in everyday activities and has higher injury resistance.

Pillar No. 5: Train like an athlete. 

Although your client may never have aspirations of competing in an athletic event, this does not mean they shouldn’t be trained like an athlete. The human body was designed as an athletic machine and should be trained this way. Therefore, every client is trained on two feet. They will all jump, explode, sprint, move laterally and move quickly at some point in the training program. The only difference is in the level of the movement programmed for each client.


Joshua Proch is the co-owner of Pittsburgh North Fitness, Wexford, Pennsylvania, along with his fiancé Tammy Zubasic. Their facility specializes in lifestyle enhancement fitness programming for the adult population. Their clients include business executives looking to get back into shape, stay-at-home moms looking to drop a few extra pounds, and weekend warriors looking to improve athletic performance. Proch has presented at Club Industry, the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute and NSCA conferences. He has been quoted in Shape magazine and interviewed multiple times for ACE’s Personal Trainer magazine.

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