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My Purpose Is ...

by Joy Keller on May 04, 2013

How many different ways are there to kill a kilocalorie?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

There is a bulletin board in the lobby with the prompt "My purpose is ..." As the weekend progresses, attendees fill out index cards that complete this sentence. Here are some of the purposes people have shared:

  • "to retire."
  • "to change lives for the better."
  • "to heal my broken heart."

Everyone is at the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute West for a different reason. Everyone has a different goal and is motivated by something only he or she can express. I am here not only because it's my job (a job I adore), but because I am also a personal trainer and I want to continue to learn, evolve, inspire others and be successful.

I am at the right place.

I think we should feel fortunate that there are experts who are willing to share what they've learned with us. And we should be proud of ourselves for being smart enough to listen.

Garbage in, Garbage out?

The kilocalorie has always been a hot topic of discussion in our industry. In fact, the kcal really should have its own reality television show by now (oh, wait, I think that's been covered). I've been hearing a lot of talk at this conference about redefining the way clients perceive calorie consumption. It seems as though the old "garbage in, garbage out" viewpoint is clearly not effective. The adage "You can't out train a bad diet" is a worthy one, but clients still aren't getting the message that just because you trained hard, that doesn't entitle you to an iced mocha and scone after the training session.

Dan Agresti, MS, shared a unique way to handle the calories in/calories out conundrum in his session "The True Cost of Weight Loss," and I wanted to share it with you. It's simple and accessible and hinges from a concept Agresti calls PIVOT: perspective improves value of training. "If someone hates something—such as running, for example—part of your job is to help change their experience," Agresti said. "Take them from disliking it, to tolerating it, to acceptance and finally to a place where they desire it."

Whoa. Talk about micro progression.

In a nutshell, Agresti suggests that you educate clients on the cost of caloric intake because you are an expert in caloric expenditure, after all. Help them navigate the world of activities they can do to burn the most calories relative to their ability. Here's the secret: We all understand money. Speak in a language clients understand, which is finances. If someone comes to you with the goal of losing 20 pounds, you equate that to a dollar figure. To lose 20 pounds you need to burn (or have a deficit of) 70,000 calories. If you tell the client they "owe" you $70,000 and structure a "payment plan" to pay off the loan, the game changes.

Here's how Agresti breaks it down.

You need a good paying "job," which is the mode of exercise. Walking is $8 an hour (3-5 kcal per minute); swimming laps/elliptical pays $14/hour (6-8 kcal per minute); and jogging a 10-minute mile (12-14 kcal/ min) is about $40 per hour (all numbers are approximate). Which "job" will your client choose in order to pay off the loan?

Agresti prefers using interval training because it gets the biggest bang for the buck. He admits that most clients need a lot of coaching to get to a point where they are comfortable with the discomfort, but he says he has had a lot of success using the calories as money approach because it becomes more concrete and less abstract for people, even though it is, in fact, a rather abstract idea.

Here's something for you to try with your clients, courtesy of Agresti. Give them a Hershey's Kiss and let them know how many calories are in it (about 25). Then, before they have a chance to eat it, show them how much of an activity they will have to do in order to burn 25 calories. Usually, he says, people are shocked at the amount of energy in that tiny piece of tastiness.

What are some creative ways you inspire your clients?

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About the Author

Joy Keller

Joy Keller IDEA Author/Presenter

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor, yoga teacher (RYT 200) and Reiki Master.