client: Barbara | personal trainer: Tim Borys, president/CEO, FRESH! Wellness Group | location: Calgary, Alberta
Things aren't always what they seem. Tim Borys, president and CEO of FRESH! Wellness Group, has a simple philosophy when it comes to coaching clients toward self‐improvement. He believes that "outer circumstances rarely change until [the client's] inner voice and mindset are transformed," he says. However, too often, indviduals who seek guidance from a personal trainer emphasize external actions—like performing well during training sessions—as the primary roads to change, he adds.
This description held true for Barbara (not her real name), a 55‐year‐old office manager who first started with FRESH! in 2015 and began working directly with Borys in early 2016. "Like so many others, Barbara joined our studio to lose weight and get in shape," Borys recalls. "She was 5'2" and weighed 264.5 pounds. Her goal weight was 160 pounds."
On the surface, Barbara was a dream client. She was confident and enthusiastic, and she challenged herself during her three weekly training sessions. However, Borys quickly realized that working with this client wouldn't be as easy as Barbara
Learning the pillars of success. All FRESH! clients learn the fundamentals, what Borys refers to as the "4 Pillars of Performance Framework": mindset, lifestyle, fitness and nutrition. Implementing each pillar is essential for progress,
"In Barbara's case, it was soon apparent that mindset was her biggest barrier. She always worked hard in her sessions but was inconsistent in doing her homework." Borys's homework assignments usually involved mobility drills, completing a food journal, and taking and uploading pictures of her meals to a shared folder. Barbara participated in the homework but rarely completed it. When Borys asked her about it, she was evasive or closed up.
"While she was improving on the physical and movement competency side of things, [her inconsistency with homework] hindered her weight loss and body composition goals," he says.
It was time for the trainer to focus on the client's mindset and to use his coaching skills to uncover what was impeding Barbara from achieving her goals.
Going beneath the surface. "Coaches don't dictate solutions," Borys says. "Sure, we may provide some options, but the coaching process is about the client coming to the conclusion that one of the options available is exciting and worth pursuing."
Borys began to ask questions. "Every time we uncovered something new I listened closely; thanked her for sharing; and discussed actionable tasks or strategies that she could use to overcome a barrier she faced at the time," says Borys.
Mindful of his scope of practice, the trainer carefully crafted his questions and offered potential solutions that were within the realm of his 4 Pillars of Performance Framework. This strategy worked. Progress has been slower than Barbara would have liked; however, she's lost 30 pounds. And Borys says she moves better and is far more physically capable than she was at the outset of training.
Digging deep for a lifelong journey. For Barbara, working with Borys has been a transformative experience. She says that the most difficult aspects of her journey so far have been accepting, acknowledging and being grateful for her life's experiences; finding ways to use perceived disappointment and hurt as opportunities for growth; and recognizing that transformation is ongoing. "This was—and still is—one of the hardest parts of being on this journey," Barbara explains. "[It has been tough] for me to let someone touch me through a move; to be vulnerable to expressing myself so Tim can understand the dynamics of my mindset; and to realize that, although I am paying Tim, he can't do the work for me. This is my journey, and I have to use the tools he has given me to create consistency in my actions so that I can build momentum and sustain results."
Borys says, "After 25 years in the fitness industry, I've found that clients like Barbara continue to keep me learning, growing and as passionate as ever about what I do. My core purpose is to help people experience how amazing it is to be healthy, fit and happy. I strongly believe that the power to experience that purpose lives within every one of us."
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