I recently aquired two new clients, both overweight, and spent over 2 hours assessing them, calculating their BMRs, and recommending a caloric range for both.
For one of them I recommended between 1500 and 1750 calories for an average weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week if she exercises. She changed her caloric intake to 1200 in the program, chose to eat 600 calories for a few days, then stopped logging her meals altogether. The other client was staying within his caloric range but ate very low ND foods such as white pasta, pancakes, and processed meats. I asked him to incorporate one fruit, vegetable, or side salad a day. He chose to ignore me for 3 weeks and then his calories jumped way above his recommended intake. I know you can’t win every battle, but I feel like I am losing these two and maybe it is not my battle to fight. How would you handle these two situations?
I will attempt to help anyone that at least shows up. There have been a few difficult clients that were just too unwilling to do anything I suggested. As long as they are working with me and not missing sessions, I keep trying to help them. I handle it individually with each client, but all clients no the rules for appointments and payment. Those rules do not change. Everyone pays for sessions before hand. Late clients don’t get extra time without paying an additional fee. No shows, pay for the session anyway, etc.
I have come across these types of clients. From day one, I explain to clients what my plan is and give them my professional opinion as to how to proceed with their training program. I am as clear as I can be, so there will be no confusion about the relationship between us. I’m very clear in telling clients that I’m not a babysitter—I might spend 2-3 hours a week with them, but it’s their responsibility to make good choices and adhere to the plan the rest of the time. I have high expectations and that’s no secret. Of course I check in and offer encouragement in between, but I won’t take responsibility for people who aren’t taking responsibility for themselves. I answer any questions they have and I make sure they know what they are committing to. If they agree, then we move ahead and begin their training. If they don’t want to work with me or if they don’t commit to the plan, that’s fine—we go our separate ways. We are the professionals in this equation and generally, clients who come to us and commit monetarily have done their research and are ready to commit to making necessary changes. By doing so, they agree to accept us as their trainers or coaches—qualified people to help them reach their goals. Otherwise, what’s the point? If these particular clients of yours know so much about the right way to accomplish their goals, then why haven’t they reached them on their own? I agree with those who said above that when it becomes a lot of trouble for us, it’s time to let them go and move on to the next client who’s willing to listen and genuinely wants the help. When you feel like you’re more committed to a client than the client is to him-/herself, it’s time to move on.
Clients need to realize that the reason they are working with you is because YOU are the professional. The gym is your kingdom and they are using bits of your wisdom to better themselves.
Dont ever be afraid to flex your muscles or use negative reinforcement. If they think they know more, imply that their bodies would suggest otherwise.
Be assertive. Personal training is like a dance and you have to lead the person through their exercises and program because they dont know how to do it. If they do know how, prove that you can do it better.
“Progress not Perfection”
Starting with the easiest changes and building on that seems to help my clients succeed in cleaning up eating patterns. Charting progress can even make it fun! When they feel successful at making the first changes, they are often more motivated to add more. Nutritional changes are a process just like the exercise part of their programs.