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How To Improve Client Adherence In 3 Steps

As coaches, we know that getting buy-in, or adherence from clients is key to bringing consistent results over both the short and the long term. In conversations with mentorship clients it's something that often comes up "how can I make my clients more consistent?".

The truth is, we can't "make" our clients do anything.

The goal here is to facilitate behaviour change to the point where your clients want to be consistent for their own intrinsic reasons.

I use the TrueCoach platform with my online coaching clients which shows client compliance over a 7, 30 and 90 day period. This was a snapshot I took at the end of June 2020, so these numbers cover the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns.


Away from the obvious factors that if our clients are consistent in their training they will see better outcomes, it's also deeply connected to the success (or failure) of your business.

Tracking of key performance indicators in training and in business is something that I'm a big advocate of. Most key performance indicators can be broken down into two subsets:

  1. Lead Measures - these are more predictive
  2. Lag Measures - these are more reactive

As an example, at first glance adherence may not seem like an important metric to track over time, but it is intrinsically linked to the long-term success of your fitness business.

  • Client Adherence (Lead Measure)
  • Net Promoter Score (Lead Measure)
  • Customer Retention Rate (Lag Measure)
  • Gross Revenue (Lag Measure)

Each of these key performance indicators is linked especially when we view it through the lens of the Adherence Triangle.


As a coach it’s one of my primary roles is to manipulate multiple variables within a training program, traditionally these are thought to be things like volume, intensity, complexity, density, exercise selection and more, all with the goal of creating a specific functional/physiological adaptation within my client.

A huge variable that is so often overlooked in coaching, is that of enjoyment.

“enjoyment is key to adherence, which is key to results”

A mistake that I’ve certainly made in the past and that I see many newer coaches making also is losing sight of the fact that enjoyment is key to adherence, which is key to results. It was this realisation that led me to create this concept called the ‘client adherence triangle’.

While the triangle of success is, well, a triangle. It can also be thought of as a spiral that can function in a positive manner (clockwise/upward)

Better Enjoyment > Better Adherence > Better Results

We can also reverse the direction (counter-clockwise/downward) to see the potential negative spiral effect of this same

Less Enjoyment > Less Adherence > Fewer Results

A client may have access to the BEST training program in the world, but if they don’t enjoy it, they are less likely to adhere to it and therefore won’t get the results or outcomes that they’re looking for in the short or long term.

In the often ego-driven world of coaching it’s common to think that “the coach knows best”, and, unfortunately, many coaches ascribe to this belief leading to the death of mastery and professional progress.


Now we have an understanding of the concept, how can we apply it in practical circumstances with a client?

Firstly, having a process by which you can build a trusting relationship with clients is key.

Being empathetic to their goals and priorities, having a clear idea of how to communicate with them in their preferred style and how to individualise your entire approach based upon client preference.

This is something that I work closely with coaches on through the Integrated Performance Foundations Program™ and has been revolutionary in my own coaching practice in building higher retention, referrals and better results for clients.

Having a deep understanding of a client’s ‘why’ for training is vital to determining how you can shape their experience to their preference. If I have a client who LOVES the feeling of a pump, you can be certain that we’re going to be doing some training at least 1-2 times per week that satiates that need. Some might love variance and I’ll ensure that this is addressed in their program too (whilst still moving consistently towards their goals).

I use the term “enter-train-ment” to describe this approach.

I strongly believe that every rep/set/exercise in a training program should have a specific intent and purpose behind it. Whether to help build mitochondrial density, improve relative strength OR build adherence. The key is not only the intent behind the prescription but how that prescription is perceived.

Whilst those training components that we define as ‘entertrainment’ are NOT key to physiological outcomes, they ARE key to adherence. Which underpins and forms the foundation of everything else.

Having these aspects of training that are specifically geared towards building adherence, buy-in and creating enjoyment for my online coaching clients and fostering the same approaches with the coaches that I mentor.


As with everything in coaching, this concept exists in shades of grey rather than being black and white. It’s important for us to note that there are always going to be circumstances where these concepts don’t apply. 

Context is king and any intervention we make as coaches, needs to sit within context to frame our decision making.

In addition to context, we need to consider normal distribution, there will always be people on either end of the curve, in this case, those who are in pain/injured, or those training to achieve the highest levels of peak performance.

In these cases, the phrase ‘earn the right’ is very applicable. These individuals need to ‘earn the right’ to get out of pain or into peak performance by doing what is necessary - not what their preferences determine.


Building in characteristics of training for enjoyment as a means to create consistency and adherence is a powerful tool in your coaching toolkit. Being strategic in using these concepts to create buy-in, adherence and enjoyment will lead to greater results, retention and referrals in your coaching practice.

PS. Whenever you’re ready, here are three ways I can help you upgrade your coaching and grow your business:

1. Join the Oversubscribed Online Coaches Facebook Group
It's our new Facebook community where professional online coaches learn to get more fulfilment, generate more revenue and have better work/life balance. Click here

2. Take our Professional Coaching Scorecard
In less than 3minutes, get instant feedback on the areas you need to focus to upgrade your service and grow your business, based on our analysis from mentoring dozens of coaches over the past 4 years. Click here

3 - Join the Foundations Program
Our Foundations Program is an immersive coaching and implementation program to upgrade your coaching and grow your business. We'll walk you through our proven process to bring you more revenue, more fulfilment and more freedom. Click here


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