Motivating vs. Lecturing
I had a couple come in together to talk to me about lecturing them. I was wondering how does a trainer motivate their clients to complete challenges on their own without feeling like their trainer is lecturing them? I felt awful that they had a terrible week because they wanted to be defiant and do exactly the opposite of what I was saying. They felt I was just telling them that they were wrong and they had to do things my way. That wasn't my intention to make them feel bad for being themselves. I felt, on the other hand, that I was giving them ideas for how to plan out their week. Am I doing something wrong?
Both Susan and Harris bring valuable points to the table. Communication and trust are two topics I always discuss during the initial consult with a prospective client. Although they both don't have to happen 100% right from the start, I strive to create an open, trusting relationship with my clients ASAP. This has made my job as a trainer worlds easier and is arguably essential to help any client reach their true potential (in my opinion).
As for the challenges you gave to them, what all did they entail? Did you all come up with them together or were they expected to just complete their assignments and report back?
One motivational strategy (if you can call it that) I've had success with is to simply ask my clients questions. One question's answer leads me to ask another question. This goes on for a bit until the client has basically come up with their own individual "wellness challenge" without even realizing it. However, this definitely takes a bit more communication than only asking, "Do you want to eat healthier? Cool. Do you eat fast food? Yes? Well stop that." Please note: I'm not assuming this is what you did. It's merely meant to be an example that I'd be happy to provide clarification on if needed.
In short, by having clients come to their own conclusions - with my professional assistance - I've been able to avoid the repercussions of them feeling like they just received a lecture. My goal is to play the role of a "caring consultant," NOT the "cruel commander." Does this make sense?
Let me know your thoughts on all the above. I'd be more than happy to provide some additional insights if you liked!
We as trainers cannot "tell our clients what to do" we can however, sit down with them and plan out fitness goals together. Keeping track and staying in communication with them along with making sure they are on "the same page" takes being consistent without being pushy.
I constantly remind my clients that this is about their success, their journey, I can only do so much and that ultimately it's up to them to do the work.
This could simply be a matter of clashing personalities, you may want to suggest another trainer for them because it's imperative for you be yourself and formulate your business personality the way you see fit.
You may want to consider the Health Coach certification through ACE. It goes into detail on how to put the burden on your clients and how to get them to succeed.
Not everyone will do and follow instructions. Some are willing to listen and try out what ever ideas or suggestions we give them, but others will just ignore or feel like their way is better than someone else. The problem is that they came to us at the first place because we are supposed to be the experts in this field.
What I usually tell my clients is that whatever advise I give them, they should at least give it a try to see if that will work and if not then we can try to figure out a better plan. I keep reminding them that since they are paying me money to help them, the least they could is to listen to me, otherwise what's the point paying me. The best way to make them understand why they hire me at the first place is because they couldn't reach whatever goals they had set for themselves on their own, so here I am. It's like when you need a legal advice you go to a lawyer or if you need a medical advice then you go to a doctor, instead of taking matters into your own hands.
You will always run into clients who don't want to listen and after you have given them your best, there is not much else you can do to convince them otherwise. At the end of the day, they need to be open to outside help and be willing to trust you. Sometimes the personalities don't match, so a different trainer might be better for them, without blaming yourself if this this doesn't work out.
I hope this helps.
as you have experienced: what you say and what another person hears are not necessarily the same. I read your comment to Susan's response where you state that you got a long just fine until you tried a different approach which blew up.
Ultimately, the question is not whether you said anything wrong but how it was perceived. I am sure it happened to all of us, whether in our professional or personal lives, that somebody takes great offense to something we said and which takes us completely by surprise because it was not at all what we meant.
Fortunately, they came to you and vented which gives you an opportunity to sit down and explain. It would have been much worse if they had quit coming and vent to other people.
You are asking how to motivate clients. Differently for every single one of them, and it sometimes takes a while to find out what motivates a person and what is the right way for this individual. Dealing with a couple can often be more challenging, particularly when you train them together because they may, individually, have different styles and may be motivate by different approaches.
Your situation was not one of right and wrong but of a mismatch between sending and receiving.
Ultimately, it's still up to you who to handle this. I would sit down with them and explain my intentions. I would then ask them how you should have phrased it so that you will not have another misunderstanding in the future. I am sure that they will have an answer for you.
Hope this helps.
Maybe you could suggest to them to sign up for a race of their choice (something fun) and use that as a motivation. It will make them work towards something they haven't done before and this way they won't feel they are been micromanaged. It will be a good challenge for them and it will teach them to work better as team since they have a goal to accomplish.
Maybe this will help.
I have been learning much about how to motivate through the "ACE Health Coach" kit. It is the motivational interviewing which would help greatly in a situation like this.
You are lucky the clients feel close enough to you to tell you the truth. Every relationship can be fixed; so, use this opportunity to your advantage. I am sure you and your clients will connect better after getting through this awkward time.
We're not just here to make people work out, personal training is very personal to say the least. Asking questions and getting a genuine feel for what that client is going through is an important part of what we do. Of course we're not counselors but sometimes an ear to listen to can do wonders and put that client in a good place for that session.
Everyone one of us has an "off day" and regular life can sometimes get the best of us. I like to have a recap at the end of the session asking the client what he/she liked/didn't like and suggestions for improvement. Remember we as fitness professionals have already taken the step to a healthy lifestyle, our clients need to start or continue that journey and we're here to help them.
I would really suggest you consider taking a course on coaching.
It is really difficult to give you the perfect answer because the situation is complex.
I will say that people don't resist change, however, they resist being changed. Folks don't like to be told what to do. So if your approach doesn't give them the freedom to make their own choices it will appear as if you are lecturing them.
Read up on motivation interviewing, the transtheoretical model stages of change as well as appreciative inquiry. It will do much to assist you in helping your clients to adopt life-promoting habits.
All the best to you.
Presentation shouldn't really matter if you're giving them what they're coming to you for.