Have you ever struggled to really connect with a client?
Chances are, even if you are known for being ‘the last 5lb’ guy, the one that really helps clients get to their goal weight, that’s only part of why they are training with you?
We are all emotional beings and our motivation for action is often complex. There are the surface goals which we are great at recognizing and realizing for clients, but how good are you at helping them realize their unspoken goals? Truly great trainers can really bring out the best in people because they help them find the best parts of themselves. It’s helping them become better inside and outside. If you can do that, you have loyal clients for life that will sing your praises all day long.
My clients’ wives and husbands often joke that I’m cheaper than a therapist. I’m not saying that we sit down and talk about our feelings sort of thing, that’s not it at all. Type A’s just don’t do that. It’s just that as trainers we see such a broad slice of the human condition across different populations which give us a chance to gain some unique insight. Good trainers are able to apply that knowledge to get results. Every client is unique, so what motivates one person will invariably be different in another.
….as trainers we see such a broad slice of the human condition across different populations which give us a chance to gain some unique insight.
If you do everything by the training book, every exercise, every diet tip, but you can’t listen or aren’t there for them emotionally, or able to steer the client into positive action, you likely aren’t going to get the results or keep them around for very long.
If a goal is image-based they could be wrestling with some insecurities, searching for some value within themselves that they have attached to their outside image.
Sure that 6 pack is a great goal, but what is that saying about them? I need to feel validated, I want to be appreciated for my hard work, I want to find love, all those things they unconsciously attach to reaching that goal. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you can support the verbalized goals, and the unconscious needs you will both win.
Just a couple of examples so you get what I’m talking about, but it’s way more complex in real life.
If you have a client that is having problems with weight and is constantly beating themselves up about their lack of will power or always focusing on how fat they are, pointing out they they are making poor choices and not losing weight isn’t going to help them. If you can steer them to looking to what is good in their life, and celebrate the good choices you are are helping them change their thought patterns. Positive reinforcement begets more positive behavior. Talk about what they enjoy, find out what makes them light up and move them towards more of that, and away from negative self-talk. If it’s a pattern they repeat over and over, asking how they think they can solve those problems can switch their thoughts form a
poor-me mind set and over to problem solving mode.
If you have a client that is always late, unprepared, under slept, under fed, find out more about their lives. Is it stress? Are they overworked, how can you offer some ways to simplify their life. Are they depressed? How can you make their day just a little brighter, maybe they just need a little genuine exchange? Or to be noticed. If they get a haircut, let them know you noticed, and how sharp it looks. I’m not saying be fake or insincere, just be part of their conversation, show them you care. If you aren’t comfortable with the complements, tell them a joke or a funny story to shift the mood.
If they show up angry, you don’t need to know why, just let them know you noticed they are struggling today, so let’s work on that with some exercise that lets them vent off a little aggression. I have a couple of exercises in my repertoire I affectionately call anger management.
We don’t really want to unpack any one’s bags but our own, we aren’t qualified to deal with that, and frankly we don’t really want to take that on. This is all unspoken action. But if you pay attention to body language, like how they walk into the gym, or how they stand; and listen to what they say and how they say it. You’ll find out more than you need to know to help inspire and motivate them to feel stronger and more able. Even if it’s only 6o minutes at a time.
In the process just might just learn a little bit about yourself!