I took on a new client a few months ago. She had been doing well with her meds and I obtained a medical clearance from her Drs. before starting with her. She has been a great client and making great progress- 2# fatloss per wk on average. After loosing 15 lbs, I started noticing a change in her emotionally. I’m not sure what to expect from here. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to modify her program to keep her motivated to exercise as she goes through this downswing?
A a personal trainer with bipolar disorder, I would like to thank you all for your thoughtful responses, especially Alex. He gave a very thorough and accurate answer that should be very useful in motivating with your clients who struggle with bipolar and other mood disorders.
I should add a little personal experience as well. When I first started training, it was just a fun way to spend time with my boyfriend, following him around the gym and doing as he instructed. I was engaged and challenged and felt proud when I was able to complete the tasks he thought would be difficult for me. Exploit this process.
During the manic phases, I would take on any challenge he threw my way with flying colors, and the gains I made were enough to keep me dedicated during my depressions. I worked so hard and made so much progress that even though I felt like crap, I wouldn’t blow my diet (too much), or skip too many workouts because I could see the bigger picture.
Try to exploit those manic episodes and during a depression, it’s can be okay to pester your client – just to let them know someone cares. It’s difficult lying in bed feeling like a failure. You can keep calling or texting – just keep a convo going – so that maybe they will come out of their funk that day for a bit, and get a little gym in, or a run, or… Be stern, hold them accountable without making them feel guilty, and you will see results (often, not 100% of the time of course).
We are used to people walking on egg shells because of our conditions. Keep it about the fitness and the goals and challenge them to beat their old scores and they just might get up and fight.
Thanks guys, keep on these folks, they have so much to offer when they feel good about themselves!
I trained a client for over 12 years diagnosed with this challenging disease. She would have great weight loss and then great weight gain. She would have great mood and motivational swings as well. We used to laugh together about her losing over 100 pounds. It was my observation that the weight loss was during period of good emotional balance, and even high emotions, conversely, the weight gain was in her periods of depression.
Even adhering to meds does not guarantee balance. Over the years her meds were changed, often for new and better ones, and often for chemical adjustments.
While any client can become dependent on her trainer, or have ups and downs, clients with this disorder may have more intense responses on either end of the motivational spectrum.
All the best