Client success is never a guarantee in the field of health and fitness. As trainers, we can have multiple certifications and degrees and still that will not guarantee that our clients will achieve their goals. Some clients get phenomenal results, some get measurable results, and, unfortunately, some achieve no results at all. Why is this? We give all of our clients the best advice, tell them what to eat, how to workout, give them access to the best resources (articles, blogs, websites, recipes, etc…) and still some have not come a step closer to their goal. It is only natural to think that clearly there is something wrong with those who do not see any results. We are exceedingly skilled and driven in our profession and are programs produce great results; it cannot be that we, as trainers, are the weak link. It cannot possibly be our programs, can it? News Flash! Our clients’ troubles adhering to our programs and advice are as much our responsibility as it is theirs. We can take credit for their failures too; it is OK. As frustrating as that can be, no trainer has a 100% success rate, not even the biggest names in the business. Knowledge of fitness and nutrition is incredibly important when it comes to client success. But perhaps there is a missing component to fitness and nutrition that is more important. That component is our clients’ compliance to habitual changes.
I decided to look at all of the life style changes I ask my clients to go through. I realized that what I ask of them is substantial. Workout more, eat right and more frequently, eat breakfast, start taking vitamins, workout even more… The demands are endless. What I do not realize is that they have already made a change in an attempt to improve their lifestyle habits; they have called me already (Duh!!). The goal here is to make attaining their goal as easy as possible. Putting too much on their plate to soon is a sure fire way to failure especially when life gets in the way. Many of our clients have daily stresses they must live with (job, kids, practice, school…). Now, I ask them to add ten more things to worry about, when I should be asking for just one at a time. If big successes do indeed come with small habitual changes then, I as their trainer/leader/guide through the world of health and fitness, must understand I cannot bombard them with all these changes at first. In fitness terms, no one knows how to Snatch his or her first day in the gym, right? The tortoise wins the race in every story, so methods must be progressive and small victories must be won over time.
I also started to look at my conversations with clients. The more I would tell them they needed to change the more resistant they became, choosing to justify the very behavior they needed to stop doing. A typical conversation would go like this:
Me: “You want to drop a few pounds for Vegas in a month, then stop drinking.”
Client: ” Yea but, I have to be social when I take my clients out for lunches and dinners, I have to have a drink”
Me; ” Those three glasses of wine are just empty calories. You need to stop altogether if you want to be bikini ready in a month.
Client: If I’m not having a drink, people are going to think I’m lame and dinners and lunches just won’t be as fun. I’m in sales, and it is always easier to win people over if they’re buzzed”
You see what I mean? How many of you have gone through this? It is only natural to resist doing something when you are told that you must absolutely do it. Resistance to change is the biggest culprit personal trainers and, subsequently, their clients face. Changing a clients’ behavior must be the first item on the menu if you want to have success. So, how in the world do we do that?
First, you should start small by adding tiny habitual changes that your clients can easily achieve. Sure, they may look at you like you have three heads when you give them something that seems soooo easy. But trust me here; the goal is to gain the momentum of small victories that eventually lead to huge ones. If we must take the physiological wins at first over the physical, so be it.
To develop these victories, the client must be an integral part of the process. Telling the clients what they must do to change can produce resistance to the very thing that they need to do. Asking for your clients’ input on this change process can produce phenomenal results. The one Game Changing question to ask here is, “How Confident do you feel that you can accomplish this habit?” On a scale of 1 to 10, you look for a response of a 9 or 10. IF you get a 5 or 6, let’s scale back your request a bit until you get a 9 or 10. What you ask for should be Small, Specific, and Measurable. For example, adding two servings of vegetables to your daily food intake over the next two weeks. If the client is not confident that they can do that, then scale it back to something that they can accomplish. Small: (1-2 servings of vegetables); Specific: (adding vegetables to your daily diet everyday over a 2 week period); Measurable: (clients can report back to you their results).
Therefore, the take away from this should be as follows:
- Clients’ successes and compliances to your program is not just about exercise. It is also about behaviors.
- Changes occur through building positive habits.
- Do not overload your clients with excessive changes to their lifestyle when they first hire you. People, by nature, are resistant to change. Just hiring you is a change in and of itself!
- Changes to improve habits should be accomplished fairly confidently.
- For clients to become successful, their goals must be SMALL, SPECIFIC, and MEASURABLE
I hope this article will help you on your path to facilitate your clients’ achieve their goals and, in return, achieve yours. Feel free to leave your comments. I would love to hear your feedback.
Good luck on your journey!