So many people go to trainers in hopes of losing an unrealistic amount of weight in such a short time. TV makes it look like it can happen within weeks! When the client is unable to reach that goal they are disappointed, naturally. What do you trainers do to help a client understand this is a lifestyle change and will not happen overnight?
Sit down with the client and discuss his/her goals together. Listen to what he/she is communicating to you: concerns, past experiences, fears, expectations, smoke screens, etc..Are the goals truly unrealistic?? Bring your professional experience and knowledge to the table: examples of other client success stories; basic physiology in terms of the human body’s ability to respond to exercise, diet, etc…
A SMART goal-setting exercise (specific, manageable, attainable, realistic, time line) probably wouldn’t hurt, and would definitely give some direction and insight to the process.
Most people respond positively to a well thought out plan, and will give it a fair chance if guided and supported.
I once had a client who brought a list of goals to our initial consultation. One of the goals he had was to swim underwater, holding his breath for 4 minutes. Since our training didn’t involve swimming, I asked him why this goal was so important to him? He said he read that holding your breath underwater for 4 minutes was a measure of elite fitness. So, we then talked about the benefits of exercise, specifically improved cardiovascular fitness. He agreed to train with me and, after 8 weeks, he noticed that he didn’t have to “catch his breath” walking up a flight of stairs. Success! Education is a necessary part of our client services, and the knowledge we share helps our clients set realistic goals.
I agree with Susan above. A major part of my initial consultation and assessment is defining and establishing “goals.” If during this initial consultation my perspective client is presenting with unreasonable goals, I try my best to get them to rein in their expectations and to redefine what they are hoping to accomplish, or at least the time-frame that they hope to reach the goal(s) in. If that does not work, and they are insistent on the unreasonable goal, I will not take them on as a client. In my opinion, my taking on a client that has already told me of their unreasonable goals, goals that I KNOW are unattainable and unrealistic, would be unethical and not good business practice.
I had a client once tell me that she would like to be able to do a cartwheel, and she was serious. She was also in her late sixties at the time and had never been athletic.
I took a deep breath and told her that I needed to think about how we could break it down into smaller components. We started with an exercise where she let herself drop against the wall as in a dynamic push-up. I told her that we needed to strengthen her wrist bones because the significant sudden weight on her wrist when doing a cartwhell may, in my opinion, break her wrist. After that I suggested that we work on a handstand next. Well ……. we never got to a handstand and my client realized that doing a cartwheel will probably have to wait until her reincarnation into a somewhat more athletic version of her soul.