How do I keep my clients on track in the New Year and maintain their motivation?

It’s no secret that January is a busy month for the fitness industry. New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, motivation levels are at an all-time high, and clients are willing to do what it takes to reach their goals.  Then February comes… and more often than not, that fire that was lit inside of so many people seems to go away.

You may have even seen this happen with some of your clients in the past.  No matter what you do, they start off strong and then disappear. Of course, every client is different, so there could be a million reasons why this happens.  However, I am going to break down three of the most common reasons why New Year’s motivation is lost, based on my experiences, and how you can help your clients to push past those barriers.

How important is emotional fitness to gaining physical fitness?

How important is emotional fitness to gaining physical fitness?  Is this something that I should be teaching my clients?

In a word, YES!  There’s been a shift recently within the fitness industry towards a more holistic, wellbeing approach to attaining a fit lifestyle by encompassing other aspects besides the physical components.  As the World Health Organization reminds us, wellness goes beyond simply being disease-free.  It includes other dimensions such as mental, social, spiritual, and emotional.  We train our clients (and ourselves) to make good decisions when it comes to physical wellness such as exercise and nutrition… but do you focus on training emotional fitness?  If not, here are some reasons why you should.

I recently injured myself and cannot demonstrate new exercises to my clients.  Do you have any suggestions for what to do when I can’t physically demonstrate what they should do?

The physical nature of personal training is one of the many appealing benefits for those of us who become trainers.  However, the downside of relying on our body as a primary tool to do our job is that we only have one, so if we break it (literally!), it could be out of commission for a bit.  Luckily, there are a few ways we can work around injuries that prevent us from being our typical physical selves and help us continue to provide value to our clients. 

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Just because we can’t demonstrate an exercise, doesn’t mean we can’t have someone else step in!  There are many quality videos and websites with exercise tutorials from established professionals that can be shared.  As you are programming your client’s session, have a few links to these videos pre-downloaded and ready to use as needed.

How often should I recommend my clients supplement their strength and conditioning workout with alternative options like running or yoga?

A big part of helping our clients achieve their fitness goals is keeping them healthy, injury-free, and motivated to maintain this lifestyle.  Clearly, we all know the importance of strength and conditioning when programming for our clients; however, how often do you take a look at the bigger picture and identify areas of opportunity beyond specific sport or strength training?  Whether your clients are runners, hockey players, or weekend warriors, cross-training is an important component of an effective and comprehensive fitness plan.

ACE defines cross training as a “type of training that is characterized by variety and the use of different exercises and equipment”.  Even simple program design changes such as altering intensity, movement patterns, or exercise order, can also be considered cross training. The type of cross training each client engages in – and how often they do it – will look different for everyone based on their specific goals and their current program.

What are the latest fitness trends? What should I be aware of that my clients may start talking to me about?

I believe that one of our roles as trainers is to stay current with all of the latest fitness research and trends.  However, it can be tough trying to choose which trends will have staying power.  New trends are constantly emerging, which is great because it gives trainers a chance to engage with our clients in a new way.  Through our expertise, we can determine the right trends to help our clients safely and successfully reach their goals.  Below are three fitness trends that I feel will be sticking around for a while… 

Wearable Fitness Trackers

In this day and age, technology is at the forefront of most industries and fitness is no exception.  In just a few short years, wearable fitness tracking devices (such as Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, etc.) have surged in popularity and for good reason.  They are accessible and fun to use, easy to wear (the most popular styles being wristbands, watches or clip-on), plus they give you give real-time statistics to help keep track of otherwise hard-to-measure health data on a daily basis such as heart rate, steps taken, flights of stairs climbed, total  distance covered, sleep, and more.  

What is the best music for all ages of clients?

I train a couple of older clients during the time my co-workers train a few groups of younger athletes. The groups love to listen to louder pop/rap music that can sometimes be inappropriate in the eyes of my older clients. Do you have any music suggestions that can please both parties? If not, what is the best way to go about this? 

Musical preference is so subjective.  Genres and songs that motivate one person to work out could very well sound like pure noise to another person.  Luckily there is enough musical variety to appeal to everyone’s taste but combining that under one fitness center roof (and one music system) takes a bit of creativity and compromise. 

Coming from a holistic place believing that our emotional state has an impact on our physical state, what is the best way to approach a client who I know is letting their emotional/mental state block them physically?

These days, more and more people understand that there truly is a mind-body connection.  The power of positive thinking can really go a long way towards improving the physical state of our health.  Along the same line, negative thoughts can block any success or progress by distorting our views of ourselves, which brings about self-doubt, lack of confidence, inaction, etc.  Life is meant to be lived moving forward though, not backwards.  It’s easy to be happy when life is going great… but if your client is going through a tough time emotionally, it can be difficult to see past those mental blocks.  Here are some strategies they can utilize to push forward and get back on the path to physical success. 

How can I advise clients to use a Fitbit or other fitness tracker to reach their weight goals?

Monitoring fitness goals have come a long way, thanks to technology, and wearable fitness trackers are one of the many new gadgets that have become super popular in the past few years.  They have taken the old school pedometer to a whole new level in terms of tracking goals and staying motivated outside of the gym.

Depending on which device your client is using, it can track stats such as number of steps taken and calories burned, to flights of stairs climbed, heart rate, and sleeping patterns. Some even have a built-in display screen, are waterproof, and have ‘smart’ sleep alarms.  The tracker can sync all of this data with various apps to further assist in keeping track of goals.  

What are the best ways to motivate my clients to focus on their health as a whole – physical and emotional – when they are not with me?

Although it’s true that some clients are able to motivate themselves to stay on track with their health and fitness even when they are not physically with you, there is another subset of clients on the opposite spectrum that may need a boost of inspiration to maintain their focus.

Of course, we want our clients to maintain their physical health, which they’ll do so through regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and sufficient sleep. However, emotional health is also an important factor in overall wellness. As the World Health Organization clarifies, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In other words, our clients’ health depends on more than just strong muscles and not getting sick.

What can I do if my clients keep self-sabotaging themselves?

Self-sabotage is a very common behavioral issue to address with clients, although it can manifest itself as different forms. First, let’s understand what we are talking about when we say “self-sabotaging behavior”.

According to Psychology Today, a behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. This type of behavior results from a misguided attempt to ‘rescue’ ourselves from our own negative feelings. In other words, your client is “getting in their own way” from achieving their goals. If it sounds counter-intuitive, that’s because it is! No one thinks they would intentionally sabotage themselves but it happens quite often.

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