Being a fitness professional can be hard. It’s balancing everything about a person’s life. It’s trying to help an individual balance exercise, diet, mental state, obstacles, and EVERYTHING in their life that can detract them from a successful relationship with themselves. With that said, there are some serious struggles I see with the industry and where WE can improve how we interact with our people, by sending a more clear message. And here is where I get a little too sappy. But that’s what I am. So here we go.
My views on change are NOT absolute and they are perfectly fluid from person to person.
My guide to being a successful advocate for change:
Guide, don’t dictate. Too many fitness professionals try to ‘drive’ their clients. Rather than laying out a roadmap, together, and allowing the client to drive. You are doing your clients a disservice by not allowing them autonomy. A person wakes up and makes thousands of decisions a day. Adulting is exhausting. A successful fitness professional includes the client in the process. Guiding someone in fitness is a lot like being the passenger on a road trip. You’re navigating. The person to your left is driving. You can’t take the wheel. It’s the fitness professional’s job to let the client know where a detour occurs, or that one path could potentially take us in a different direction. And the driver may discover a new path. Or decide on a new endpoint. Be there for them, let them know they aren’t alone. And help them along in their decision making process. Your job is to understand obstacles. And help the driver navigate.
Celebrate success. Allow people to see how successful their bodies ARE. I could have a client bike 20 miles on a mountain, run up Olympus and swim twelve miles. But their mind tells them they are a failure because they didn’t lose five pounds. Success could be staring you in the face from every direction. But because gravity’s pull is a little greater on a given day, all successes go to nil. The fitness world is already harsh enough when it comes to appearance, with unattainable standards of beauty. I’ll let you in on something. When I had veins in my abs, I still wasn’t lean enough. When I got lean, I wasn’t big enough. I was short sighted. Don’t let your physical successes go to waste. Yell that shit from the rooftops. When you do something you are proud of, tell the world. Don’t apologize for DOING something amazing. Nobody gives a shit about how much you weigh. And you shouldn’t feel bad for a number that tells more about gravity’s pull on you. If anything, the fact that you did some awesome shit with more weight on you, makes the feat even more badass. CELEBRATE.
Connect and understand the WHY. Getting all sciencey is a waste of my time and yours. Nobody gives a shit about your breadth of knowledge and how big of words you can use, effectively or not. When you spout of stuff that someone doesn’t understand, they stop listening. By going over someone’s head, all you do is stroke your own ego. Keep it tight, relate success to a client’s WHY. For example, I had a geri-athlete complain the other day about a straight legged situp. I replied simply, by asking why they think I threw it into our routine. They told me that it was similar to how they get up in the morning when they wake up. I could have talked all day about hip flexor strength, rectus abdominis, flexion in the spine and how controversial it can be in fitness (I’ll save that for another day). But by phrasing it around the client’s need, they answered their own question. And that makes me feel even more proud of my exercise selection! Sometimes, the client wants to complain. But if you can get them to see the carryover into their life, you are doing a hell of a job. You make the movement worth doing. It doesn’t matter what you know. What matters is that the message you send is consistent with why they came to see you in the first place.
I guess that’s kind of all for now. In the next couple of days, I’ll add more stuff to the list in time. But please feel free to share any transformative experiences you have had, whether it’s a success of your own, or someone else’s.
And a random list of things I can’t get enough of:
Including my clients in the decision making process.
Stepping back and allowing my client to drive the process, especially if they have expertise in the subject matter. It means I am learning.
Demonstrating to the people around me realize how fucking amazing they are.
None of us is as smart as all of us.