How personality plays into fitness coaching

How personality plays into fitness coaching

How are your clients’ fitness goals going? Just like all goals people set for themselves, they sometimes stumble on their journey to achieve them. And like so many other areas of life, knowing more about one’s personality style will help you as a coach to improve the odds for your client’s fitness success. As a fitness or wellness coach, use PeopleKeys DISC Fitness Report in your practice to understand better your client’s personality and what drives them forward. 

It’s a fact that at the center of changing one’s fitness level and behavior as a whole are their dietary and exercise habits. Let’s look at how DISC theory can be applied to changing your clients’ fitness behavior. First, the DISC personality system represents four major groups of behavioral styles that people fall into: “D” is dominant, “I” is influencing, “S” is steady, and “C” is compliant. Below is a quick overview for how to approach your fitness clients from each personality style.


The “D” style is determined and likes to be in control. They can be impatient and dismissive. For fitness coaches, put your “D” client in charge of their plan rather than telling them what to do. Ask what they want to accomplish and how they would like you to hold them accountable. Be brief and get to the point quickly. The “D” style focuses on the big picture and doesn’t enjoy details. You may want to build a standing review of their progress (no matter how small) since they may become frustrated without quick results. Key your coaching off of their questions for you, as that is when they most likely truly listen to you and incorporate your response.


The “I” style loves to be around people and doesn’t like conflict. They seek approval and acceptance from others. As a fitness coach, you may want to find a way to pair this person up with other people-oriented personalities like “S” style. This will give them the social attention while still being “in it together” for the fitness focus. Focus on showing your client genuine enthusiasm for their progress. They may not care about the details, but will feed off of the positive energy. Select a gym that is welcoming, especially if your client will do most of the workouts without your direct supervision. Listen to and be open to their fitness ideas, then help to ground them in detailed plans to make them happen. Leave time in the workout for social chatter. If they find you unfriendly, they will not be around long.


Those with an “S” style are predictable and even-tempered. Their patience can easily turn into stubbornness since they like secure routines. They take time to accept change and want to know why the change is necessary. Coaching this client will require more preparation in advance in order to get them comfortable with a new routine. It’s important to build rapport with them. Having a positive personal relationship will make the uncomfortable feelings of change easier to deal with. They avoids confrontation and will open up to you once they begin to trust you. Suggest “system” that will help them stick to their habits. For example, having their sneakers and workout clothes bedside so it’s easy to be ready for the gym in the morning.


The “C” style is detail-oriented and thinks analytically. This style of client can get bogged down in those details though, and need to be redirected to take action. When coaching this client on a fitness plan, be ready to give them information they can read later. They benefit from clear-cut boundaries and organization, so be prepared for each session. Any workout should be written, right down to the number of sets and repetitions expected. They fear criticism above all else. If you have to disagree with or correct them, stay factual and data-focused.

As a coach, you can see that your own personality is going to play into each of these styles differently. You will have to “flex” your coaching approach based on the client. Expand your fitness coaching with in-depth knowledge on communication with different personalities and how to motivate, inspire and empower your clients to achieve their fitness and well-being goals by becoming a certified behavioral life coach.

Picture of Michael Dattilio

Written by: Michael Dattilio

Michael Dattilio enjoys focusing on the interactions of parts in any system, be it a team, a process, or an organization to help create simple solutions to sometimes complex challenges. Personality Style: D