Wonderful answers/comments! Thank each of you so much for contributing. I agree with each, and would like to reenforce it all by saying: whatever their true motivation may be, I use it to help encourage them. First, I start with some simple movements and gradually increase the challenge but only to what they can perform successfully. I like to follow it up with helping them realize how much they accomplished in the session, so they can appreciate their hard work as much as I do. This way they know they have done and that are capable of doing what is asked of them. I want them to know the work-outs will be a “safe” place and not someplace where they will feel bad about themselves. Then, at the next session, we build upon there success. Its our job to design a program that truly progresses their abilities, AND I don’t let them leave without recognizing their new success:).
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You’re absolutely right that discovering our clients’ motivations for starting an exercise program is key to helping them maintain their program long-term. Our clients’ motivations are as varied as are our clients themselves. General health, disease prevention, rehabilitation from injury, lose weight, prepare for an athletic or special event etc.
Finding our client’s motivation should be a part of our intake or initial consultation and then from there, we use those motivations to keep our clients energized and “motivated” to continue along their road of health and fitness.
The biggest motivation for my clients has been the change in their body composition, and the physiological changes. Most people who quit, quit in the beginning stages of their exorcise program, before they see changes. It is my job to reassure them that the longer they stick with it, the easier it will become, and the more changes they will see. As a trainer it is just as important to be understanding and sympathetic to every clients situation, and as they go forward, show lots of praise for success. Setting a few major goals to achieve over an extended period of time, and many small goals that eventually add up to those major ones. By seeing the progression they are constantly motivated to move forward.
I have many clients who I worked with for years. Their motivation is and was to improve their health and maintain an active lifestyle as they are getting older.
It seems that I am fortunate to get clients when they are truly ready to commit to an active lifestyle.
As others have stated, it has to be an intrinsic desire. Outside motivators really do not work very well but I found one notable exception: GRANDCHILDREN! I often found clients to be very motivated to be there for the little ones and to maintain their health for their sakes.