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Weight Management: Reducing Attrition Using Feedback


Getting feedback is crucial for client retention.High attrition rates are common in weight loss interventions. Keeping overweight clients in the long-term can be challenging. Therefore, it is essential to continuously listen to the feedback that your clients give you, whether it be verbal or non-verbal. This feedback can be the key to ensuring on-going quality service. Personally, I can now tell when I have someone committed for months to come, or if someone is on the verge of quitting. Utilize these ideas for your training or weight management programs.

Signs You’re About to Lose Them:

The following examples are verbal and non-verbal ways your clients may be telling you they’re disinterested, or about to quit:

  • Negative facial expressions: Did their eyes use to light up, and aren’t anymore? Did they turn a smile upside down? Make note of their facial reactions.
  • Closed or distant body expressions: Do they distance themselves from you more than normal? Do they seem closed off? Arms crossed may mean they’re not interested. (It can also mean they’re cold, so be careful of assumptions).
  • Canceling sessions more frequently: Are they cancelling sessions more frequently than usual? This could be a sign that things really are going on in their life, or their priorities are changing. You being a lower priority could be a sign that you are losing them.
  • Not accomplishing goals frequently: Are goals commonly set, and no matter what interventions are done, the client doesn’t appear to be bothered they didn’t meet the goal? Their motivation may be lowering.
  • Verbal warnings: Clients can sometimes say phrases or words that may signal they have considered leaving before. Your ears need to perk up if you ever hear phrases like, “I almost didn’t come today,” or “I thought about quitting.”
  • They’re quieter: Sometimes silence, or lack of communication, can be a sign they’re losing interest. If you had a bubbly/talkative client, and things aren’t as loud anymore, you may want to be concerned.
  • Something feels off: Things may be going right, but you may feel different. Sometimes instincts can be true.

Preventive Strategies

Being aware and soliciting their feedback/feelings is key, especially if you notice those warning signs. Here are some examples of steps you can take to get that feedback:

  • Notes: Always make note, on paper or in your head, if your client is displaying signs of disinterest or frustration.
  • Surveys: This is a fantastic way to allow your clients to voice their opinions. Individually, this may bring up anxiety to the client as they may fear you’ll judge them, but in a group setting, this can be a great tool, especially if you allow them to do it anonymously.
  • Follow-up phone calls: If it is challenging to get verbal feedback during a session, call up a client and ask them personally your questions of concern.
  • Ask questions during sessions: You can take a more informal approach, and simply ask questions to your clients each session. Questions I ask are, “Is this how you like to feel after a workout?” “What do you think about this activity? Is there something else you’d rather do?”

With solid sources of information on how they feel about your sessions and interventions, you are now able to identify what you need to change to make the client happier. Remember to always pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal feedback your clients present, as something as small as a sarcastic comment could’ve been your key that they weren’t ever coming back.


Jamal Thruston is a certified personal trainer in Louisville, Ky., who specializes in weight management, behavioral change and health coaching. For questions, e-mail Jamal at jamalthruston@gmail.com or visit www.jamalthruston.com

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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