I usually don’t like all the rah rah fitness posts and blogs I see online and on Facebook. As positive and uplifting as people want to be, sometimes you have days when you feel like a ton of bricks is crushing your chest.
Today I logged onto Facebook and saw this post from Mike Spagnola of Edge Strength and Conditioning:
If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. If you don’t like yourself, nobody else will be able to tolerate you. Sometimes training is more about fixing a person mentally than ANYTHING else. If the mind if broken the body can’t do a damn thing, so learn to like yourself and fanatically believe in your success, or go nowhere.
As rah rah as this is, its dead on correct. We, as trainers and trainees have to be able to look in the mirror and like who we are, what we are doing and the progress we are creating. Training isn’t just about changing the appearance, its about changing the person.
Part of being a trainer is molding that person into a better version of themselves, your services should be a sanctuary away from their stresses and problems. They should come into your gym and feel like they can take that time to forget all about the day and focus on themselves. Its a form of therapy without the psychobabble and couches.
You, as a trainer, need to leave your problems at the door as well. You may have just finished up with a new client who can’t learn form if you push them into it like a moldable toy, your car may have gotten a flat tire on the way to the gym and you spent 30 minutes changing it in the shit weather. Doesn’t matter, you gotta focus on what your task at hand it, and that is making your clients into better people, in and out.
You CAN force belief into yourself and others by adopting simple steps to ensure their, and your own, success.
- Positive reinforcement
If they hit a PR, pat them on the back, high five them, shout with them, whatever it takes and however they want to celebrate it. You may be able to deadlift 700 pounds, but your client’s 225 pound pull may be the best thing they ever did physically. That is still celebration worthy. Say “good job” when nailing form, encourage them to keep moving during tough conditioning drills.
You can also print out cheap teeshirts to give out to clients who meet certain goals.
I will be frank here, this may offend some, but I don’t care. I am not a fan of giving out free teeshirts to every single client. Why should the lazy ones get something for free? Earn it, make them have a goal – whether its a fitness related goal, strength goal or body composition goal. You want to wear a shirt with the name of who you train with on it, for free, earn it!
- Learning about what makes them tick
Everyone is motivated differently. Some need gentle prodding and some need a swift verbal chop. I have clients that run the gamut between all of them. My football girls love to be yelled at, they feed off of it, they smile at it and it pushes them to blow their weights up. They are super competitive and they will train through anything. One girl rehabbed her ACL tear with her therapist AND with me. She didn’t make excuses and I didn’t baby her, she works her ass off and doesn’t feel at home without me saying “what the hell are you doing??!! PUSH IT!”
I also have clients that need to be talked to gently. Some of them won’t be able to handle a forceful hand, so I modify my approach to fit their needs. The training is still as intense, but the motivating tactics change.
If you don’t learn what makes them tick, and stay stubbornly devoted to one style, you will suck as a trainer.
- Treating everyone as if they are a star athlete
Nobody wants to pay for a service that they get treated like the runt of the litter. Not everyone you get is going to be genetically gifted enough to be able to improve leaps and bounds in a month. Doesn’t matter. Treat the best and the worst client the exact same way. That means, same service, same dedication, same encouragement, same follow up, same reward system and give them all 100% of your effort every single session.
The ones that aren’t as gifted as the “elite” know this already, they will appreciate a trainer treating them the same as the superstars. You can bet your ass they will tell their friends and family all about you.
- Following up with emails, phone calls and texts
It doesn’t end at the gym. It never ends. Clients are clients, but also friends. Communicate with them after hours, hang out with them on occasion (time permitting), go to their weddings, text them to see how they are, call them up and ask them what they ate today. Be the super-trainer that they need. A 5 minute phone call between sessions to follow up shows you care.
I went to a couple clients’ wedding the other week. They introduced me to everyone in attendance as their trainer and most people’s reactions were “oh we heard about you”. That doesn’t come from just 3 one hour sessions a week, that comes from giving a shit about them as a person. Be their friend but also know this is a business. The line is fine, it can be hard to tread for most, but its more than possible.
Following steps like this will change lives, retain clients, make lifelong friends and provide a neverending referral network that doesn’t involve spending $$$ to do it.
Its as simple as keeping it in perspective. You aren’t just a trainer, you are changing lives.
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