Before becoming a certified Personal Fitness Trainer I was a High School boys basketball coach.
My first season as the Freshman boys coach I think we lost almost every game and by large margins in some cases. I felt like, at the time, that I couldn’t connect with the boys and hated losing more than anything. I’m a true competitor at heart and I absolutely could not understand why my knowledge of the game of basketball couldn’t translate easier to the group I was given to work with. These boys were average in talent, work ethic wasn’t bad for young players, their respect level of me as their coach was there, I had the parents support, so what was the problem. It frustrated me to the point of thinking I’d made a mistake in taking the position. I began to really push harder in practices and on the side line. I was verbally strong and out of line a lot of the times thinking that would get results. I used running as a punishment. I was a dictator. I was a terrible leader to say the least.
The second year I was the sophomore boy’s basketball team coach. This team was a mix of some very talented young men and then those who just needed to feel a part of something. One of my favorite movies has always been the “Bad News Bears”. This was a youth baseball team who was absolutely terrible and lost every game, I mean they started out having no clue. By the end of the movie they learned how to win TOGETHER and it was only because they finally had someone in their corner who fought for them and believed in them. It’s the same tactic I learned as a coach which was positive MOTIVATION and believing in the seemly impossible. My sophomore team was the Bad News Bears, but ended up being undefeated and District Champions that year. The game changer was ME. I had to do some soul searching and growth of my own before I could ever expect greater from the boys. It’s the very principles I use now in Personal training. I believe that in order to get the results we want with our clients there has to be a consistent process in place that gives you an identity as a trainer. That self identity helps you develop your brand and create a client base that overflows.
As a trainer we are “progress oriented”, and “goal driven” forgetting sometimes that we are dealing with human beings who can only achieve their goals if they are filled emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I would like to share in this blog today the principles of MOTIVATION and how powerful it can be.
First on the list is getting to know the person you’re working with.
The initial consultation meeting is designed for us as trainers to get to know the client’s limitations, body composition, medical history, and help them set realistic achievable goals but beyond that it’s also a time to get to know the person behind the health risks and physical dispositions. Listen for key words that will give you more insight on their thought processes, watch their body language which describes their position socially, read between the lines of what they write down as goals so that you can connect with them emotionally and know why they are really sitting in front of you for training. Don’t judge their reasoning for actions taken from a trainer’s point of view but see through it far enough so that you can evaluate and understand their barriers. Don’t overwhelm them with information right off. Take mental notes as you answer questions keeping the focus on them, making direct eye contact and smiling. Pay attention to what their passions and values are. You want to make them to feel comfortable and not like the slob they may have already categorized themselves as being. How can you help and motivate someone if you haven’t connected to who the person is.
Second principle is to define for them who you are as a trainer and more importantly who you are as a person.
Many look at trainers as being perfect in nutritional habits, exercise schedules, and etc… You must be able to relate to the client sitting in front of you. You are not suppose to be an intimidating factor for them but rather a professional who is present to assist them in getting true results. Know what your philosophy of training is, better yet, have a philosophy. Treat this initial meeting like a first date, getting to know each other. Ask them what their expectations of you are. Be open to share the reason you chose to become a personal trainer, your personal challenges that lead you into the profession. It’s always interesting to know that like spirits flock together, meaning you’ll find that there are many similarities with you and your clients which makes for either a great training relationship or a disaster.
Thirdly, once you’ve guided them in goal setting now discuss together in putting a plan of action in place.
People like and need structure, they want someone in place that will hold them accountable. Be honest and realistic with your clients, don’t sell them off the wall dreams just to get a sell and a new client. Talk to them about the process and exercise programming. Be clear on your formats, procedures, training policies and expectations. Have them write down the plan of action and sign it making them accountable for every step taken from that point moving forward. You want them to respect you as a professional and know your perimeters as well as you knowing theirs. Be smart enough to stay in your lane. Don’t give out information that you’re not qualified to give just for the sake of your pride and arrogance! It’s okay not to have all the answers just be able to refer them to those who are more qualified in a particular area of health professions.
I think this fourth principle is very important because it’s where the true results lie. Know what the client’s definition of success is.
That will help gauge you in how to motivate and push them. This becomes the visualization you will be able to use to keep them inspired to keeping moving and don’t give up. You want to be able to use the tool of visualization, its effective in itself. Be able to paint a picture in their minds that matches their life’s perspectives which in turn will motivate them even more to aim for a healthy lifestyle.
Fifth, always be encouraging when working with clients. Let them know they are doing a great job and don’t let them judge their progress or “mistakes.”
You want to set a peaceful environment around them that says YOU CAN DO IT! You want to empower them internally not just physically remember. Make sure your exercises and tools fit their personality. Make them feel special by personalizing the program to fit them, their bodies and their likes/dislikes. You want to train them in a manner that will help them not hinder. Guide them with compassion. Get to know their bodies, every movement they make. Acknowledge the changes you see in them, their growth.
Sixth, something I have found to be very helpful is to become their partner in the journey.
Don’t just stand there and coach them through it but sometimes (if you are allowed to do so in your facility) work out with them. Assure them that you’re in it with them, become a part of their support system. High five each other, push each other, congratulate each other, clap hands to help each other through the tough periods of the session, and hug at the end. People need contact. There are countless studies that state people must have some form of human physical contact in order to reach levels of success and I’ve grown to believe that to be true.
Seventh, affirmations are miracle workers!!! Have positive statements or slogans that motivate the clients you are working with.
This ignites the emotions needed to access faith, perseverance, and to dig deeper. Repeat those positive affirmations every session, write them down, keep those words of power in the fore front of their mind. I think that’s the driving force sometimes in connecting with the people you’re working with. You want them to gain more than just fitness results from you, you want them to leave your sessions feeling great and lighter than they did when they first entered your gym.
Eighth, reward them with prizes. It’s important to keep the sessions FUN and exhilarating.
Have some weekly goals and when the client reaches them reward them with things that you know will motivate them for the next week coming. Set up competitions that stimulates their OTHER side which enables them to see that they aren’t as bad off as they thought physically and how strong they are mentally.
Ninth, suggest keeping a diary of their journey.
It really helps when you can see where you are emotionally on a daily basis. Advise them to track their moods with eating habits and their non-activity days. By acknowledging true feelings and actions you’ll find freedom and embrace healthier solutions.
Tenth, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS MISTAKES, JUST A NEW WAY OF DOING SOMETHING!
Never let your clients beat themselves up. Set a positive stage for them and teach them the way to positive thinking and believing in themselves. Results follow the right thinking patterns. The impossible is possible when you set in your mind it is. Self confidence is the key that unlocks it all.
These are 10 principles that I now live by and I learned the importance of each by working with the boys basketball team of Hightower High School. It was through that experience that I found my True Identity and God given gifts.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching many succeed surpassing every goal that was set on paper. I hope you will gain something from this list that will assist you in growing a phenomenal business and clientele.