The gift of Motivation in Personal Training – Principle of Auto-Suggestion

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.