The Three Golden Rules That Separate You From Your Clients
It was 6pm on an October evening in 2013.
I had just drank a half bottle of red wine because I'd read that it would make me more vascular, and earlier that week, I'd stood in a small tanning tent so I could change the colour of my skin from pale Scottish blue to Essex orange. It's a look I miss.
Later that night, I had around 100 topless pictures of me taken by a professional photographer. I'd been dieting for around 10 weeks and was in what I would call cover model level of leanness.
My goal in doing this photoshoot was to show the world that I could get in great shape, which would therefore mean I would be able to do it for my anybody who wanted to work for me.
I assumed people would be cueing up in droves once the pictures were released.
Oh, how wrong I was…
There is one huge issue with this line of thinking - “It's not about you; it's about your clients” as the legendary Strength coach Dan John has often been quoted saying.
I will caveat the above by saying that there is nothing wrong with getting lean if it's a personal goal, but if it's with getting clients as the primary goal it makes a lot less sense than most trainers think, unless they are working with physique based athletes.
What you THINK will help you get clients is very different from what WILL get you clients, which is why we feel there are three golden rules to remember that make you very different from your clients.
The first rule is that our future clients have multiple different priorities alongside changing their health and fitness. Whether that is their family, their job, their other interests or hobbies. All of those things and more will quite rightly compete with the amount of focus our clients want to give to their health and fitness goals.
As a trainer its very easy to miss how much of a priority getting fitter/losing weight is or isn’t in their life.
The consequences of not establishing the level of focus they want to dedicate to their goals can have a negative impact on both you and them.
It is very easy to become frustrated when you give clients what you see as brilliant advice and you know it will help them but they seem reluctant to follow it.
Then when we feel frustrated it's all too easy to start blaming your client for not being “dedicated enough”. Which leaves you feeling disengaged from coaching and them no further towards their goals.
The truth of the matter may well be that they literally aren’t “dedicated enough”…. and that’s okay!
Helping people fit exercise into their current life and not the other way around is one of the key roles of a personal trainer. We can’t expect people to dedicate all their waking moments or even a high percentage of them, to eating differently and exercise.
There are many ways that trainers can end up with a disconnect between the advice we are giving and our client's priorities and expectations.
Maybe your ambitions for what they could achieve have outstripped what they wanted in the first place. Or maybe you’ve misinterpreted what they told you initially. Maybe they don’t understand what level of dedication will actually get them to their goal and maybe if they did they would realise that they aren’t willing to do it!
The key here is acknowledging that its okay for people not to put exercise at the top of their pile of priorities. Trainers still have a huge role to play in helping clients in that place. In fact, having an understanding trainer can be the difference between someone in that situation regularly exercising and changing a few of their dietary habits and them giving up exercise altogether.
While it may feel great to have clients follow everything you say to the letter and to focus their whole life on the gym. People who want to do that are the exception, not the rule and that doesn’t make them “wrong”! It simply means we need to find out how health & fitness DOES fit into their life.
On your journey, you have probably learned to absolutely LOVE exercise. Otherwise, why would you be considering a career in helping people do exactly that!
And here we strike on the second rule that makes training yourself different than training your clients. It’s highly likely your clients won’t love exercise.
Not at the beginning and potentially never.
For many many people performing exercise will be a “box to be ticked”, something they know is important, but they are never going to LOVE doing it. Of course, there will be a small percentage of clients who do learn to love exercise, but once again they are likely to be the expectation and not the rule. A lot of personal training clients are looking to “tick the exercise box” without totally hating every second and while your passion might cause you to enjoy lung bursting intervals or feeling all your muscles burn, recognising that our clients don’t have that same passion is very important.
The final element that makes helping someone else different from your own journey is that everyone will have a different preference’s when it comes to both their training and nutrition. Those preferences may run in opposition to the concept we have in our heads of the “ideal” workout or nutrition plan.
Let’s imagine you have someone who you really think would benefit from using some whey protein. After all, whey is one of the highest quality forms of protein you can eat and can be effective for a number of goals. But your client really hates the taste or texture of the shakes. They suffer through a couple of days of drinking the shakes. But on the third day they have a difficult day at work, they are late picking their children up from school. Upon arriving home they just can’t face forcing themselves to drink another one of those shakes. So they reach a “f*ck it” moment and decide to ignore the rest of the plan.
In that case, was whey protein “ideal”? Definitely not!
Following peoples preferences as closely as you can is a large part of what dictates if they will actually stick to your advice. A major part of a trainers job is to find how people can achieve their goals in a way that suits them.
So what is more “ideal”….An approach that while technically “superior” actually significantly reduces a clients likelihood of following your advice or one that is less “ideal” but has a higher chance of being followed? I’d lean significantly towards the latter.
Stuart and Alex.
Want to Learn More About Lift The Bar Training?
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The Lift The Bar Training qualification is the industries first personal training course that merges both online and offline learning while also having an extended Applied phase that supports you in the early stages of your new career. Rather than just receiving your qualification and throwing you out into the world (like Sarah experienced above), we guide you so that you get a fantastic platform to build from in one the most challenging stages of your career.
Having worked with 1000’s of personal trainers, the education team at LTB Training have created a 12-month long industry leading personal training course that includes a foundation level 2 and entry level 3 qualification, which allows you to become a fully certified personal trainer. This has been created with practical application at the core and with cutting edge research in mind so that you’re left with no stone unturned for starting off your career as a personal trainer. You’ll then complete our qualification by going through a 6-month applied phase, which teaches you the essentials of how to work with personal training clients and arm you with the knowledge on how to build a business that lasts and helps as many people as possible.
Our next course launches on the 4th of February 2019. You can find out more about what it includes by clicking on the "certification" tab at the top of this page!
The fitness industry is full of myths, misconceptions and bad information. When starting out in your career it’s hard to know what is right, what is wrong and how to tell the difference.
LTB Training educates and mentors thousands of personal trainers around the UK. Our goal is simple. Provide the best education, in order to produce the best personal trainers. In doing so, we hope to be the solution to a failing fitness industry and an increasingly unhealthy population.