How to handle a client who thinks they know more than you?
I recently aquired two new clients, both overweight, and spent over 2 hours assessing them, calculating their BMRs, and recommending a caloric range for both.
For one of them I recommended between 1500 and 1750 calories for an average weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week if she exercises. She changed her caloric intake to 1200 in the program, chose to eat 600 calories for a few days, then stopped logging her meals altogether. The other client was staying within his caloric range but ate very low ND foods such as white pasta, pancakes, and processed meats. I asked him to incorporate one fruit, vegetable, or side salad a day. He chose to ignore me for 3 weeks and then his calories jumped way above his recommended intake. I know you can't win every battle, but I feel like I am losing these two and maybe it is not my battle to fight. How would you handle these two situations?
I found this information in the ACE Personal Trainer Manual particularly helpful. It's in the chapter entitled "Principles of Adherence and Motivation" under the subtitle "Role Clarity."
"From the beginning of the relationship with each client, a personal trainer should clarify his or her role, as well as that of the client, as part of the written agreement. What are the responsibilities and expectations of both parties? What does each person need to do to hold up to his or her end of the deal? This information should be written down and agreed upon. If there are any issues or questions about the expectations, they should be discussed and modified from the start. This task is not difficult or time-consuming, but it is something that will help the client be vested in the program and feel supported, as well as maximize the client's experience and likelihood for adherence."
I hope that gives you some food for thought.
I commend you for hanging in there for over three weeks. Your help and knowledge can only go so far...the rest is up to the both of them and what they do on their own time is out of your control.
You can only set forth the rules, advice and goals in your assesment/s and stick to them whether they choose to do it or not.
At this point I would reasses each client and find out why your advice, journal logging and the goals set forth are not a priority in their lifestyle change.
As a Fitness Professional you have a choice for whom you wish to take on as a client and their success is your success.
I have had a client/s in a similar situation and I simply stated that I have failed them as their Personal Trainer and referred them to another trainer and stated all of the reasons why.
Remarkably, they had a change of heart knowing how serious I was about their health. Looking back.. they "thanked" me for my commitment to them.
Keep us posted on your outcome.
People do know themselves better than we know them.
As mentioned above have a heart to heart, or, professional to client talk around your expectations for them, and their's for you. Maybe the weight loss is really not that important to them? Maybe, it is more important to you?
You need to discover where the block is, and move on from there, together, with a co-created plan that they own, because they designed it. They are the experts of them, not us. We are the experts in exercise.
People won't do something "well" they don't own. Challenges like this are incredible opportunities to get it right, or better, after dialogue.
1. Knowing that you have done all you can and do what your supposed to when you train them; you can document all that you have done and asked them to do, and hold them accountable for their results. As a personal trainer, we can do all that we can when they see us but they need to hold their self accountable for what they do outside of that 30-60 minute session. If they continue to come back, I would continue to offer the services as long as you know you’re doing all you can.
2. You can stop offering your services to the clients. As bad as it may sound, it's the right thing to do at times. As a personal trainer I hold myself to high standards and my students (clients) as well. If you as a trainer have done all you can and they continue to resist then they might have other problems that need to be resolved. It might take money out of your pocket but it will give you a piece of mind.
The situations you describe above sound like these two would benefit from a Wellness Coach which would take the pressure off of you!
Personally, I would have a very frank conversation with your clients and explain that you are doing your part in their journey but until they contribute, the journey only goes so far.
As a certified personal trainer, concentrate on the training and hopefully they will re set their goals!
The best advice I can give you is not to give up on these folks! By being honest with you about their respective eating issues, they're letting you know that they trust you on some level. Changing a lifestyle does not come easy and, after all, aren't we all works in progress? They've made it to the point that they realize they need help, and they've implemented some changes (by changing their exercise habits, at the very least). Also, you now have the documentation that may convince them that the cycle they're on is NOT benefiting them- the first client is (most likely) too ashamed to even write down her eating habits, the second client has proven that the choices he's making aren't sustainable because his calories have jumped again after a short hiatus. Having them include the way they feel before/after each meal in their food diary may also help them "see the light".
I would try to be a safe place for these clients to turn. Help them to focus on improving their future habits and to learn from the past without dwelling on it. They are the only ones that can change their behavior, and you can only continue, as you have been, to keep them informed of a best-case scenario. You can certainly refer them to a nutritionist or lifestyle management professional if it seems to be necessary, as they'll probably back up what you've already recommended. Ultimately, the battle is theirs so try not to take their shortcomings as any reflection on yourself. Good luck!
The options are varied, anything from simply shrugging your shoulders in an "oh well" posture (which I wouldn't do, and don't recommend) up to deciding that you simply can't continue to work with a client who chooses not to follow your recommendations. Each situation is different, so only you will know what your next steps are based on what they say.
I know that this may not be "the answer" that you want, but I truly believe that since you are the one facing these clients, you are truly the only one who will be able to choose from a list of possible responses AND outcomes. Some trainers might be accepting of this "challenge" to their professional recommendations, others would be taken aback. You will know where you fit in that continuum.
Possible they don't think they know more than you , they just really don't know!
Have you tried asking them why they chose to lower their calories or are making certain food choices? I find that asking my clients questions gains me additional insight into how they're making their decisions and allows me to provide them with information that will help them find solutions to their obstacles. It also gets them involved in the process.
Please remember that only they can make the changes in their lives. You can provide all the tools necessary, but they have to decide to make the change. And not everyone is always ready to do that.
Good luck! If anything, you'll learn from this experience and grow as a trainer!
Starting with the easiest changes and building on that seems to help my clients succeed in cleaning up eating patterns. Charting progress can even make it fun! When they feel successful at making the first changes, they are often more motivated to add more. Nutritional changes are a process just like the exercise part of their programs.
Dont ever be afraid to flex your muscles or use negative reinforcement. If they think they know more, imply that their bodies would suggest otherwise.
Be assertive. Personal training is like a dance and you have to lead the person through their exercises and program because they dont know how to do it. If they do know how, prove that you can do it better.
I have come across these types of clients. From day one, I explain to clients what my plan is and give them my professional opinion as to how to proceed with their training program. I am as clear as I can be, so there will be no confusion about the relationship between us. I’m very clear in telling clients that I’m not a babysitter—I might spend 2-3 hours a week with them, but it’s their responsibility to make good choices and adhere to the plan the rest of the time. I have high expectations and that’s no secret. Of course I check in and offer encouragement in between, but I won’t take responsibility for people who aren’t taking responsibility for themselves. I answer any questions they have and I make sure they know what they are committing to. If they agree, then we move ahead and begin their training. If they don’t want to work with me or if they don’t commit to the plan, that’s fine—we go our separate ways. We are the professionals in this equation and generally, clients who come to us and commit monetarily have done their research and are ready to commit to making necessary changes. By doing so, they agree to accept us as their trainers or coaches—qualified people to help them reach their goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? If these particular clients of yours know so much about the right way to accomplish their goals, then why haven’t they reached them on their own? I agree with those who said above that when it becomes a lot of trouble for us, it's time to let them go and move on to the next client who’s willing to listen and genuinely wants the help. When you feel like you’re more committed to a client than the client is to him-/herself, it’s time to move on.