TAOW = Client Success has a lot to do with Behavior Modification

May 16, 2012


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!


A Super Week Starts with Hard Work.

January 30, 2012

The Week of WOW begins tonight. We are officially one week away from the Super Bowl. This will be a week of firsts for me as I am headed to my first Super Bowl, first time watching a client (Eli Manning) perform on the biggest stage of their profession, first time headed to the great state of Indiana. Although this is a week of firsts for me, it seems familiar in a sense. The past two seasons friend/mentor/super star trainer Todd Durkin went through this week with his clients Drew Brees (2010) and Aaron Rodgers (2011). I knew Todd would be an excellent resource for me being that he was there for both of those Super Bowls, so I made sure to get as much advice as possible when it came to this week.

The piece of  Todd’s advice that resonates the most is to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity. As I think about this experience, I reflect on all of the hard work that brought me to this point. To achieve success in life and in your career it takes a tremendous amount of effort and hard work. This past off season was an example of how hard work pays off. The NFL lockout allowed me to work one on one with Eli and I got to see first hand the work ethic of someone at the top of his game. Seeing Eli reach this point again in his career inspires me to continue to push harder and as this week begins I reflect on how my hard work has gifted me this super opportunity. This week will be an honor of sharing this opportunity  with my family, friends, valued clients, fellow fitness professionals and all my followers.

Lessons From the Trenches – Part 1

January 23, 2012

Listen Up Trainers and Coaches because this one is for you. I was inspired to write this blog post today by a recent encounter/experience I had.  The experience wasn’t the best one, but I am writing this to provide a positive approach. A few months ago I came in contact with a trainer who boasted about which celebrities he trained and what celebrity trainer mentored him and yada yada yada (fyi no one can confirm any of these clients or the mentor)… This trainer has the credentials, the certifications, the degrees, and certainly had tons of clients (mainly because of the claims of who his celeb clients were). The one thing that seemed to be missing was the results promised to clients.

It’s no secret as you might be able to tell by my Facebook and Twitter posts that Eli Manning is a client of mine, and superstar trainer Todd Durkin is my friend/mentor.  That’s well and good, but no clients would train with us unless we got them results. Telling people who you might train, or who you may have trained under will not get your clients success, nor will it get you success. People hire you to get tailored programs for their success, not some generic” program of the day” that you put clients through that day because you’re either too lazy or ego so inflated to deliver a worthy product.  Lets us not forget, we are in a results driven business. At the end of the day it may be cool who you train and who your mentor is, but none of that matters if you aren’t getting your clients the results they are paying for. If you want to provide your clients with the best experience possible here are some tips to help you out. Some of these tips are so easy to do it might surprise you.

  1. Mind your body language: Standing there with your arms folded is no way to make it seem like you’re interested in your client. Neither is having a seat on a stability ball  because you’re want a seat. There is nothing wrong with getting down on the ground and engaging with your client, while they are doing a floor based exercise. But looking like you’d want to be anywhere else in the world won’t get you clients nor does it keep them. Mind your body language.  EVERYTHING SPEAKS!
  2. Keep your eyes on the prize! Stay focused on your client, not on the TV, or who ever walks by. This one is self explanatory but I’ll go ahead and give you further insight.  I visualize that there is a 3 foot belt/strap attached between myself and the client. I very seldom stray away unless it’s to get another piece of equipment. Having that “connection” to your clients is a great way to stay engaged in your session, and will make the client feel as if you’re actually paying attention to them.
  3. Give your clients what they need encased in what they want. Find out what your clients’ likes and dislikes are and tailor your programming as such. That doesn’t mean throw out the lunges, push ups and pull ups. Of course to get certain results your clients are going to do exercises they particularly don’t like. For example, your client may want a six pack and want to do crunches on an ab machine until they’re blue in the face, but you may know that planks are a better suited exercise for a preexisting back condition. As their coach/trainer your job is to find an alternate method to give them the best results.

Hopefully this post can help some trainers along their journey and perhaps help clients choose the right trainer. In this case its not who you know but what you know and how you apply it that matters the most. Be sure to check back shortly for part 2 of Lessons From the Trenches.

One Game-Changing move you’re not doing!

December 9, 2011

New Years is around the corner and with the new year, come the resolutions. Chances to grow, learn, change, and enhance ourselves in some way. Here is the chance we need to make everything better. We come up with our resolution, set our goals and BAM, 3 weeks later, life has gotten in the way and the resolution is on the back burner until next New Years. Has this ever happened to you?

If it has, then you’re not alone.  We have all the right intentions. We vow to get serious about this year’s resolution, but somehow they don’t happen. Something is missing. ACCOUNTABILITY! We don’t have anything or anyone to hold us accountable for our actions or lack of action. I believe lack of accountability is the major reason why we don’t hit our goals or follow through with our resolutions. We owe it to no one more than to ourselves.

Making yourself accountable will go a long way to ensure your success, but how do you make yourself accountable? By creating a vision for your success, by writing out a DECREE! A solid vision of your path written in retrospect will be monumental in your success. Writing out your decree isn’t rocket science, in fact, it’s simple.  But you have to be able to spend some time going deep and really get introspective. This process will create great CLARITY and VISION, something we may have struggled with in our previous attempts at our resolutions.

To come up with your decree, first lets take a look at what you’re trying to accomplish. For all intensive purposes, because this is a fitness blog, let’s say you want to get in better shape. Lose 10 pounds, drop a dress size, bench press more, run faster, whatever your goal. Now, I want you to give yourself a LOGICAL deadline, 5 months for example. Fast forward to that date 5 months from now and envision what it will look and feel like as if you’ve accomplished your goal. You’re now seeing the change, and the success.  I’ll give you your starting sentence: I am so proud and happy that I ______. Remember, you’re writing as if it’s 5 months from now. Here’s an example, and by all means use the same template:

“I am so proud and happy that I am living more stress free. I am exercising an average of 4 to 5 days a week, I am down 20 pounds and have tons of energy. My food choices are smarter and I have given up having dessert every night. I no longer feel sluggish and my mood is much more joyous.

My quality of life has improved as a result of this new-found  energy and enthusiasm. I start every morning with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation and/or writing, and the clarity it gives me makes my confidence grow as the days pass. My workouts are no longer dreadful and I enjoy working out. This feels wonderful! I now feel as if I can conquer any challenge that life puts in front of me. I am stronger, more aware, and excited about my success.”

Writing a decree has helped many of our clients gain clarity and achieve success with their fitness goals. They are more focused and our workouts seem more streamlined now that they have a solid vision of what they are training for. Remember, decree writing can be used for more than just fitness. I have used it my my business and it has paid off with more clients that I enjoy working with. Share your decree with the ones closest to you, and lean on them for the most support. Now that you put out positive pressure into the world by telling your friends and family, there is more accountability for you to succeed. Once your decree is out there, you can’t take it back. Start thinking about what you want to put into your decree before the hustle and bustle of the holidays catches up with you. Think about it, then put pen to paper and make that decree visible wherever you go. Now is the time for your success. Let’s build upon the past failures, or learning experiences and act upon your commitment to yourself. Commitment + Accountability = SUCCESS

Peace and Health!

For Functionality Sake

May 16, 2011

Functional Training is a term that is thrown around all too often. It seems that every trainer and their grandma says they are doing it. Have you ever been to the gym and seen a trainer putting a client through some weird exercise and wondered “how in the world is that going to help them?” We will say that while some exercises may seem awkward, they do help you in the long run i.e Turkish Get-Up, or TRX Scorpion. However, there are some exercises that make us look back and say REALLY???( Let it be known we are not fans of lifting weights while on a spin bike) Sure that exercises would work if there was an activity that never would apply in the real world.  Unfortunately, some trainers are getting bored with doing practical exercises.

When it comes to training an individual or yourself, there is one question that must remain constant, “Does this make sense?” Will this exercises help someone get better at a particular activity/sport or help them with basic functions of life. If the answer is yes, then go right ahead and do it. Common sense trumps all when planning out a fitness routine. Boredom should never be the driving factor when planning a workout routine. We are all for keeping things fun, interesting, and cutting edge, but keeping them awkward with no practicality is another. Plan your exercises to be fun an interesting for beings who live in this realm of the universe.

The “Sexiness” of Fitness

May 4, 2011

Today’s post was inspired by our good friend Frank Pucher of Fitness 1-2-1 in Roseland NJ. His theme as you would say for this year is to bring the “SEXY”. No, we aren’t talking about the sheer attractiveness or actually physical act of having sex. We’re talking about the, intricacies,  attitude, the swagger, the je ne sais quoi of doing something, and being damn good at doing it. The Attitude of Sexy and the depth of what makes things interesting is the topic of discussion today.

You see, to us  Fitness is Sexy! Fitness is sexy because there are so many styles, and ideologies, that no one particular style is the definitive approach. Literally, whatever floats your boat is the attitude we all share. From Cross Fit to Pilates, Athletic Training to Bikram Yoga etc,  you choose what “Kool-Aid” you want to drink. The fact that there are so many things to choose from and we all “get-off” (pardon the reference) from something different is what we found so interesting about fitness.

Because there is no definitive approach to how to go about fitness, everyone gets to see what resonates with them. Seeing someone bond and develop a successful relationship with a particular style of fitness is a thing of beauty, it’s SEXY! The swagger and confidence you see someone obtain because they have found something they are good at and it works for them it SEXY! The debates on which style/methods are best or which styles/methods pair well together is SEXY! Say what you will about sex and the act/art of it, but there is no denying the fact that the swagger, the various methods, the empowerment, and the joie de vivre, all derived from world of fitness is just plan SEXY!

The Status Quo and the Culture of Personal Training

April 25, 2011

I’ve been reading a couple of great  books these past few weeks (Gary Vaynerchuck’s Thank You Economy, and Howard Schultz’s Onward) and it has made me notice a couple of things that  may not be ok with the health and fitness industry.

We’re worried about the Culture of the Personal Training industry. Many, not all, but many personal trainers are content with the lackluster quality that has become the personal training experience.  Everyday we walk into big box health clubs and notice trainers, some of which are no longer certified, putting people through the paces as they watch on disinterested with the work they do (some actually put every single client through the same workout). The same thing goes on with the private sessions we perform in condo’s with gym’s in Hoboken, NJ. Trainers show up as if it were laundry day, and barely put any effort into the training session. Often times we sit in amazement as trainers take two stability balls, one for their client and one so the trainer can sit on and check his/her text messages. This unprofessional CULTURE has become all to common hence, becoming the STATUS QUO. The Status Quo SUCKS!

You might say, why don’t the clients demand better? Quite simply, clients have become accustomed to the Status Quo because they have never known anything else. Indeed ignorance is bliss, until someone gets hurt. Now we aren’t saying everyone who is personal training performs their sessions this way, but there are enough to cause concern.

We as personal trainers have the ability to connect and influence people greatly. Why not make the most of this opportunity and do it the right way. We as trainers must live by sound principles that allow us to become world-class in delivering our services. To deliver that “World-Class” experience there has to be a passion to become a master of our craft, a genuine interest in our clients and not just their renewals, and for pete sake focus on them and not what’s on TV or on your cell phone, or who just walked by wearing what. Trainers, lets demand more for ourselves. We owe it to our clients who are spending their hard-earned cash. Clients you deserve better, so demand better!

Demand a Better Status Quo!