I have a client who I have been working with for a few months. She has canceled several sessions and I know she isn’t doing workouts at home, or following a healthy diet. This week is our last session (I am not sure if she plans on purchasing another package but I doubt it).
With most clients we would do an assessment to see where they have progressed, etc. I am a little hesitant to do this with her because I don’t want to discourage her at all, but at the same time I feel like it would be important to do. How would you approach this situation?
I do know in the way of form (doing squats, lunges, etc.) She has gotten better, so I will mention that to her. But, what would you say/do besides that?
The fact is that most people require mulitiple attempts at creating any new habit or behavior. And for some it can take a very long time to even recognize that they are stuck in a pattern of counter productive behaviors.
All discussions with clients should be consider fluid. You go in with a purpose and often find that you need to shift the original focus. I would go into the discussion with a plan to start with discussing how the client feels they are doing with their exercise program. Do they feel that they are making progress? Do they feel that they are doing better with adding more activity into their day? Etc. Discuss how much they have exercised in the last few weeks or over the course of the program. Talk about whether they feel they can increase their frequency of exercise. And how to make that happen.
Then discuss the things that you have observed that need improving. Stay positive, but don’t sugar coat it. Give them credit for what they did do and then shine a light on how much they could have done. Go over their dietary pattern/food log and ask them what one thing they feel they could do better. What could they cut back on and what could they eat more of, etc. Remember that they need to be willing to do it. So, ask them to be honest with themselves.
Lastly, I would bring the assessment up. But I would frame it as a fresh start assessment. Tell the client that almost everyone needs to start over several times before they really get into a solid healthy routine. That you are there to help them begin again with a clean slate. I tell clients that until I have worked with them for at least two months, I won’t really begin to see where we need to focus on their lifestyle. And I have to learn how they approach the program as well. That it is fresh start for me, too. And from there I go into getting them signed up for program reboot. Most of the time, I have already formulated an outline of what we should move on to doing. But I don’t do too much work on it. Partly because during the last interview/assessment things come up that will change at least part of a program redesign. And partly because somewhere around half of these type of cliens will not be ready to sign back up right then. I can kind of read their position as we go through the interview/assessment. When there is no positive feedback, I tend to not push them. But I leave the door open and put them on my planner for a follow up call(s).
This is a work in progress for many of us in the fitness industry. I am very confident in program design and application. But with the hard to reach clients, I still have to do a lot of soul searching to reach some of them. We are all human. We can all learn and grow. But we can’t always find the answers on the first try (second, third, …) Everytime I find myself in a position where I need to “sell” a client, I try to re-evaluate my approach as well. I try to learn from every situation and every interaction.
Good luck. And if you already met with the client and discussed things, but it didn’t go as planned. I would call them try to set up a second chance to keep them working with me. Sometimes things just get away from me and I need to regroup before I try to call and ask for that second chance. Sometimes it is for the best that they move on with someone else. That is life.
I’d start by asking her how she feels. This will give you an idea where and how to start. The correction sandwich as mentioned above, is a good idea too, this is what a correction sandwich is: start with a positive, fill with what could be a neg, then finish with a positive.
Review her goals, and hopefully you’ve kept a log of her appointments, and what you worked on each time. You can show her with the squats…where she started and where she is now. Show her gaps in your meetings and show her a gain she made and then a set back.
I would simply say, “look at these gains here, and then there were some missed workouts/gaps, and at the next meeting we started here…” You can say you started there for safety, or she held steady due to ___… Then continue, “I can see with these gains here when we keep our workouts more consistent we can reach…”
Then work in her goals. I’ve had SO many inconsistent clients, and overtime I was able to make regular schedule that they kept. Enforce the cancellation policy. Hoping you have a cancellation policy. You can use it a bit to get them consistent. If you decide to let her make up appointments, tell her you can do it at this time ____, but this is the only time you have for her to make it up, otherwise she’ll lose it, say with a sad kinda face, in a manner showing you don’t want her to loose the workout. Tread lightly here, you don’t want her to take advantage. Discuss with her a time you really think she’ll make. Review goals, you can do her assessment. If she doesn’t have changes in strength, lost inches…mark her improvement in form…as gains.
This is a delicate situation and handling it properly will benefit both of you. First of all, do you know why she has cancelled some sessions with you and why she hasn’t followed a proper diet? Knowing the reason why your client has made these choices will better prepare you for conversation during your final assessment. One thing I have learned over the years is to use what is called the “correction sandwich”. No one likes to be corrected or counseled on what they did or didn’t do. You mentioned that her form has improved so this can be an encouragement to her. Asking the right question(s) in a proper manner regarding her adherence to the fitness program will help her to see where she needs improvement. In her mind she may already see herself as a failure so repeating it won’t be very encouraging to her. Let her think about the reason(s) why she didn’t adhere to your program. Then follow up by reinforcing the positive (i.e., her form).
I wish you well and I hope this helps.
Hello Missy Reece,
Our job as trainer is to keep the client motivated to move towards their goals. Maybe the assessment could be reassessing the goals instead of doing body reassessments. Leave it up to the client and let them know that they came to you for help and that is exactly what you are doing…not giving up on them. Of course, let them know where and how they improved and what still needs work.
I personally, need to rethink my goals, also. Let them know that we trainers are human and also have our own setbacks at times. When things click it will feel amazing.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.