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FitPro member Alison Smith is a PT, and a triathlon and running coach. Here she shares her views on how setting your own goals can help to inspire and give confidence to your clients.

One of the important subject areas we focus on in our Level 3 PT qualification is that of SMART or SMARTER goal-setting for our clients. We all know what this means in theory and can repeat the anagram to our heart’s content but do we, as fitness professionals, really understand goal-setting and do we practise what we preach?

Personally, I don’t think we should prescribe our clients anything we haven’t already had a go at ourselves – whether it’s a new exercise, a food type, a reference book or a new bit of equipment. Goal-setting is no different. We should have experience and understanding of the process of setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals before we can truly and honestly help our clients to do the same.

Additionally, any exercise professional who is seen to be achieving their own goals and ambitions will give their clients a huge amount of confidence in their ability to help them achieve their own. They see you as an inspirational role model and recognise that the right sort of goal-setting can work. They see that it can produce results with the appropriate amount of work and direction.

An inspirational trainer is a successful trainer, for sure!

For example, I am a triathlete: my goal in my 50th year (2019) was to qualify for the GBR age-group team to compete at the World Championships. To do this, I would have to come in the top three in a specific qualifying UK event in the previous year.

As it was, I over-achieved my target and qualified in my 49th year, and raced at the World Championships in the Gold Coast in September 2018 in my age group of 45-49. I also qualified for 2019 in the 50-54 age group. My new goal is to qualify for the 2020 Championships.

What effect does this have on my clients?

Directly, not really anything at all and, unless they ask, I don’t shout about it (their sessions are about them after all, not me!).

But there are few points that, as a PT, you may want to take away from this article because, indirectly, there are a few positives:

  1. My own achievements will most likely help to attract clients with a sporting goal, rather than a weight-loss goal. I’m cool with that as I’m also a triathlon and running coach, so it fits well with my target market. So you may wish to consider who your ideal client is and whether they would be scared off if your goal is to win the national cage-fighting competition!
  1. Most clients come to us with a goal in mind – whether it’s sporting, fitness, weight loss or purely a body-image goal. Making sure it’s realistic is the first step in succeeding. Once you have had experience of this it makes communicating with your clients much easier. How many clients have you had who tell you they want to lose an unhealthy and unattainable  amount of weight for their wedding in four to six weeks’ time, for example? If you don’t understand the value of accurate and clear goal-setting, you are not only going to set them up to fail but you’ll also have an unhappy client and not a great reputation. And don’t be afraid to tell them that it’s unrealistic. If they go to someone else who will tell them what they want to hear, so be it. Stand your ground and be honest with them.
  1. Achieving your own goals shows determination and drive. You understand the pain and heartache involved in something you are passionate to achieve and can empathise with your clients, but also help to push and encourage them through the lows. They will have more trust in your experience because you have ‘been there’.


FitPro member Alison Smith is a PT, triathlete, and triathlon and running coach who will soon be moving to Australia to build her business on the other side of the world.

If you’d like to share your story with us, please email the team at – we’d love to hear from you!

Where to next? Read another member’s story of how she juggles her business and being a mother to two boys.