I have a client who regularly spends 3-4 hours working out per day. I do a corporate class at her office and then she had asked me for personal training sessions on days I am not at her office. We started going with this just fine, but she began to tell me all the other things she’s been doing, and finally the last straw for me was catching her at the gym for 4-hours. Straight.
She is obese and has a terrible diet. Initially when she had asked me to train her I had suggested her money would be better spent on a dietitian, but she was not open to the idea. Instead she said she knew what she had to do as far as nutrition and just needed the exercise part. She has not upped her game as far as nutrition goes so she is trying to exercise more to make up for it.
I confronted her about the amount of time she is spending working out and told her I would no longer be willing to personal train her if she kept up at this rate. Things were better for a little while, but she has fallen back into her habits.
How do I address this again in a meaningful manner?
I would bring up the subject of seeing a mental health professional. Many people fall into a pattern of daily habits that make them feel “ok”. Some common ones are eating, drinking, and drug abuse. But exercise and other physical activities are also often used as a sort of crutch to get through stressful events and feelings. We (unless you are a licensed mental healthcare provider) are not the people for this situation. This is a touchy subject for some people. You need to be careful who you discuss this with though. We cannot share personal information with anyone without the consent of the client. Often a person has to come to the realization that they need help on their own. I have not run into this with over exericsing, but I have with the more common ones. Many of those people still have not come to terms with their issues. Try not to let it affect your outlook or sense of professionalism.
Hello Amelia Baures,
I would ask what her goals are at this time and if her methods are working? It is not possible to exercise away poor eating habits. Going over a quick pro/con and goal interview is probably in order. You have many good suggestions from the other trainers. Sometimes people need to find things out for themselves the hard way; which is hard for us to watch, knowing we can help.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
See also this thread if you haven’t already
You’ve gotten wonderful advice so far.
See if she is willing to consider yoga, or stretching, or MELT, or other restorative activities as part of her exercise regimen. Exercising as much as she is is going to wear and tear on her joints, not to mention the effect that stress has on cortisol / inflammation.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but it might be a start. If she’s not willing to “go there” with any suggestions about nutrition, maybe at least you can sell her on replacing some of her higher intensity activities with recuperative activities.
I also agree with the idea of referrals.
she is very fortunate to have you as a trainer. Your willingness to call her out on that behavior is commendable. The fact that she scaled back after you told her that you would not continue to train her shows that she values you are a trainer.
Her behavior may be consistent with exercise bulimia http://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-bulimia-symptoms-treatments-an…. The fact that she fell back into that habit after she had stopped for a while indicates that there is an addiction problem of a sort.
As Christine indicates, this may require counselling by a professional. I would try to find somebody who specializes in that type of problem. The long-term negative health effects are serious.
However, you will need to have another conversation with her in hopes that she recognizes her problem. You cannot make her go to seek out help but you can point out what the consequences may be.
This is a very tough situation. We care for our clients and hate to see self-destructive behavior. At the same time, our influence only goes so far, and so does our responsibility.
Good luck for you and your client.