Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quantify And Address The Client

There is a problem in the industry. I am not going to blame the clients. This is on us, the coaches (I don't even like the term trainer. It sounds like exercise overseer and if that's all you do, you won't survive).

The bad ones don't even address goals, they come at it from a sales and stylistic approach. Meaning the client tells the coach what kind of work outs they like. The coach tells them what their training style is, they give them a demo work out, client sees if they think its fun, and they sign up based on the style. It has NOTHING to do with what the client's goals are, or what issues they have preventing them from getting there. They just want to please them and get paid, not change them for the better. Which is the real underlying reason they sought out a coach in the first place.

The ones who actually care about the client, try to get the clients to focus on the goal. They tell them, wouldn't they feel great if they lost weight, or looked better? Or the more "holistic" ones will approach it from the aspect of, feeling better.

I was at a workshop with other trainers, I was talking to them about the idea of addressing the issue. Basically defining what the cause of the client issue was (why they came to talk to you in the first place, what's stopping them from attaining their goal). All the trainers looked at me dumbfounded...

I lost them. They thought about it for a bit, and they said, oh you are talking about defining the client's goals? We do that. That's really important.

For the record that was not what I was talking about. They started telling me about their best practices on motivating their clients on their goals. What are the client goals? To get in shape.

Sounds pretty vague and hard to quantify. I asked them if the goal is to get in shape, where are they now? They looked at me confused. It was a no-brainer, why even think about that. They are right now out of shape. Their goal is to get in shape.

This is the scientific rationale most coaches are dealing with.

Here is the problem with this kind of thought process and what's stopping caring trainers to be star coaches. You don't know shit about the client. Where they are now or where they need to be.

Let's say being out of shape existed within the range of 1-100. Being in shape was a range from 101-200.

So basically the client is somewhere between 1-100, and they need to be somewhere between 101-200. And you as the coach have no idea where they are between 100, and where you can take them or even get them past 100.

That was my whole point of addressing the issue, using a series of tests and indicators to know where exactly the client is to know what they are capable of and to better quantify where they can end up and create an appropriate plan. I've written extensively on assessments and movement screens. From an overheard squat test to the FMS, use something. From blood tests to hip to waist ratios, collect all the data you can.

Without that information, it's like a doctor trying to get some patient to some level of remission - cure, when all they know is their patient is somewhere between pre-cancer to stage 4 cancer. There is a big difference between remission and cure just like there is a big difference between pre-cancerous tumor to a stage 4 cancer that's metastasizing. It's why doctors take every vital about your before they cut you open, because they really have one shot at this. That's also true for us, we can't undo what we do to our clients. We need to do the same. We need to be just as important as doctors. Right now we aren't and at the end of the day we need to be better than doctors because only 50% of patients follow the doctors orders.

It seems pretty obvious but the fitness industry is willing to use values like "out of shape" and "in shape." This would never fly with a strength coach working with a professional athlete but seems to be acceptable for the general population.

Imagine if there was a system of money allocation. You and someone else both were in need of the money, you probably needed it more but without a clear system of quantifying who needed how much, money was allocated at random.

If health was really important to you, you would think about it like other important things in your life. Like a project or a business or your finances.

You would of course first see exactly (not just a vague guess) of where you are and where you will be in the 2 years. Now that's a plan.

Running a business with the idea of, I am poor, in 2 years I want to be $$$ is doomed for failure. This is a big part of the reason why coaches have not made a dent in the obesity problem in the country and why people are turning to everything else other than trainers.

You don't need to try to motivate your clients with some nebulous "get in shape" commercial. They are already motivated. They showed up. Your job is to change them. Cookie cutter thoughts and cookie cutter sayings create cookie cutter trainers. And believe me, the population hates those now and is why so many long time trainers are losing their jobs.

There is a stereotype that most trainers are unqualified and uneducated. And if you can't figure out where exactly your client is physically, mentally, injury wise, movement wise, then all you are doing is proving them right because that's all job one stuff.

Selling a client on where they need to be without knowing where they are now is no different than relying on looks to get clients. You are selling to emotion, and emotional behavior is what made them unhealthy in the first place. Reason is what will get them out of it but all you are doing is exacerbating emotion.

Quantify and address the client, if they could have done it on their own they would have. So what's the problem, not just physically, don't blame "laziness." Find out the vitals, how they move, how they think, their physiology, their nutrition, their medical. That's why they came to you, because they figured you would know better than them.

It's about being professional, and doing this job because you chose to do it not because you had to do it. Make an impact.

Something I tell my clients is that I HATE being in a room (or sometimes work conference) with trainers. The majority of our clients know more than them. But being in a room full of coaches? That's humbling.

Treat all clients like professional athletes, and act like a professional coach. And see why the most obese country in the world has the world's greatest athletes because somehow our best coaches are doing something right whereas the trainers for the general population are doing something very wrong.

A certain saying goes that practice makes perfect. It doesn't perfect practice also doesn't make perfect. Practice makes things permanent. Whatever things you are doing good or bad, will have long lasting effects. Create good habits and do it daily. The fitness world is constantly changing and trainer/coaches are not learning or evolving. We are probably more low tech than any other industry.

We should not be competing with a DVD or a book or web based service. A DVD or book never meets the client, has no idea what they are about or what they are capable of. It just assumes they are out of shape, and has them focus on the goal of being in shape. We should be better than that but a lot of us are not. We should be better than group classes yet many clients opt for classes instead of personal training because, they are both about assuming you are out of shape and the goal is to get you in shape. Trainers are losing clients to DVDs, classes, group training, and even to books all the time. Effectiveness? Honestly compared to an average trainer, the DVD, class, group, and even book is almost the same.

I don't do online training but I don't know how many e-mails and Facebook messages I've gotten because someone has benefited or lost weight through reading my blogs, following my newsletter, or watching our Youtube videos. And it's free. Personal trainers should not be in the same market or competing with my blog.

So what do you see? Trainers training an individual like its some one on one bootcamp, or some random P90x work out, a work out of the day Crossfit style. Listen, if that's what you are doing, P90x, Crossfit, and good bootcamps will do it better than you can and have more resources available. You're supposed to be better than them but you are not.

A lot of these companies are against the globo, corporate, big box gym type mindset. Well let me tell you, a lot of trainers ARE globo gyms. No programming, or periodization and have no corrective strategies. Corrective strategies mean at least 1/4 of your time needs to be spent addressing all the clients injuries or movement issues. You also have to talk about nutrition, that means you have to actually learn it and know what you are talking about. Not tell them to go count calories and eat less calories. If you do, fitness evolution will kill you and trainers like you will die out. At least another 1/4 of your time has to be as food strategist/detective.

A good strength coach or a physical therapist will never be replaced and always have a place. Whereas trainers for the general population can be replaced by apps, and a lot of times the apps are better than they are.

All the best coaches I know and all my mentors read at least 1 book every week or every 2 weeks. Learn, read, keep learning, know more than your clients. Than know your clients, inside and out. Then help them. Forget motivation, they showed up. You go beyond that and that's when you start being a top level coach.
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