motivational interviewing

Choosing the Right Client & Goal Setting

As a health coach, I would be doing my fellow trainers and coaches a disservice by leaving my thoughts behind on such a touchy subject. Today the fitness industry is completely saturated with misguided information and with trainers out to make a quick buck, it's hard to know who and what to trust as solid information. There's also the need for trainers and fit pros to feel as if they need to train anyone willing to work with them regardless if the trainer is qualified or have the resources to help the client. Here are some things to consider when choosing your clients.   

As a health coach, I would be doing my fellow trainers and coaches a disservice by leaving my thoughts behind on such a touchy subject. Today the fitness industry is completely saturated with misguided information and with trainers out to make a quick buck, it's hard to know who and what to trust as solid information. There's also the need for trainers and fit pros to feel as if they need to train anyone willing to work with them regardless if the trainer is qualified or have the resources to help the client. Here are some things to consider when choosing your clients.

 

Are the Goals Realistic?

"I need to lose 20 pounds this month"  Often times, clients know what they want but don't understand if it's what they need or if it's realistic. It's obvious if they're inquiring about your services and informing you of their goals that they want your help. They also want validation from us in regards to their goals. This is where rapport building and communication happens. How do you tell someone their goal isn't realistic without deflating the clients confidence and leaving them feeling defeated? At this point, you have to keep in mind that you not sell your potential client on what they want to hear vs what they need to hear. I've found that redirecting the goal for them is often a breath of fresh air. The client usually comes up with a BIG goal that requires behavior habits that they've yet to tap into! Take the goal of 20lbs stated above. This person is probably ready to commit to exercise, but isn't 100% committed to changing their diet. Do you think they'll reach that goal at all, let alone in 1 month? While the goal of 20 lbs is achievable within a few months, in addition to a regular strength training program, the client will have more success and most importantly adopt a healthy lifestyle by focusing on one or two nutritional behavior habits that will ultimately help them lose the weight, keep it off, and hopefully pay it forward! It first starts with setting realistic, specific goals the client will have to work for, but can achieve and both coach and client need to have a hand in this.

"I need to lose 20 pounds this month"

Often times, clients know what they want but don't understand if it's what they need or if it's realistic. It's obvious if they're inquiring about your services and informing you of their goals that they want your help. They also want validation from us in regards to their goals. This is where rapport building and communication happens. How do you tell someone their goal isn't realistic without deflating the clients confidence and leaving them feeling defeated? At this point, you have to keep in mind that you not sell your potential client on what they want to hear vs what they need to hear. I've found that redirecting the goal for them is often a breath of fresh air. The client usually comes up with a BIG goal that requires behavior habits that they've yet to tap into! Take the goal of 20lbs stated above. This person is probably ready to commit to exercise, but isn't 100% committed to changing their diet. Do you think they'll reach that goal at all, let alone in 1 month? While the goal of 20 lbs is achievable within a few months, in addition to a regular strength training program, the client will have more success and most importantly adopt a healthy lifestyle by focusing on one or two nutritional behavior habits that will ultimately help them lose the weight, keep it off, and hopefully pay it forward! It first starts with setting realistic, specific goals the client will have to work for, but can achieve and both coach and client need to have a hand in this.

Stay in your Lane

Let's face it, we would love to save the world and to some degree, most trainers try to do this by taking on any client that comes our way. Most trainers and coaches specialize in a specific demographic. Even though I have a wide variety of clients, I specifically work with women ranging from age 28 - 50 years of age. The main reason is because again "People Talk". The more you work with a certain demographic, the more you begin to understand their way of thinking and behavior habits. I've worked with quite a few determined women in this age group who saw great success meeting their fitness goals and word spread. That forced me to redirect who I thought I wanted to work with for the demographic I am good at working with. I also had to be okay with it. This isn't to say I'm stuck with this population - self-awareness is critical in terms of building your brand and reputation.  I would love to work more with senior citizens, but it's okay to know when the quality of your product will be cheapened by not understanding your client. I say this because at some point you're going to have to turn down clients (which we'll get into later). It's also not a bad idea to sharpen your toolbox in other areas of your craft which for me is group fitness and nutrition.

Let's face it, we would love to save the world and to some degree, most trainers try to do this by taking on any client that comes our way. Most trainers and coaches specialize in a specific demographic. Even though I have a wide variety of clients, I specifically work with women ranging from age 28 - 50 years of age. The main reason is because again "People Talk". The more you work with a certain demographic, the more you begin to understand their way of thinking and behavior habits. I've worked with quite a few determined women in this age group who saw great success meeting their fitness goals and word spread. That forced me to redirect who I thought I wanted to work with for the demographic I am good at working with. I also had to be okay with it. This isn't to say I'm stuck with this population - self-awareness is critical in terms of building your brand and reputation.  I would love to work more with senior citizens, but it's okay to know when the quality of your product will be cheapened by not understanding your client. I say this because at some point you're going to have to turn down clients (which we'll get into later). It's also not a bad idea to sharpen your toolbox in other areas of your craft which for me is group fitness and nutrition.

You're Constantly Building Your Reputation

Your reputation is by far the most important thing to keep in tack. I once heard one of my mentors say "You're building your brand everyday whether you like it or not." What he meant by that is that it doesn't matter what you think your reputation or your brand is. What matters is what people are saying about you (Yes, what people say does matter). If you have enough people saying the same thing about you, that's what your reputation is and the reality is that good or bad, YOU built that reputation. If you're constantly thinking about the financial benefit you'll receive from your clients, eventually they will see you as "The Money Hungry Trainer". One thing that holds true is that people talk and when they do, make sure what they're saying is the same thing you stand for and say about yourself, your brand and your training.

Your reputation is by far the most important thing to keep in tack. I once heard one of my mentors say "You're building your brand everyday whether you like it or not." What he meant by that is that it doesn't matter what you think your reputation or your brand is. What matters is what people are saying about you (Yes, what people say does matter). If you have enough people saying the same thing about you, that's what your reputation is and the reality is that good or bad, YOU built that reputation. If you're constantly thinking about the financial benefit you'll receive from your clients, eventually they will see you as "The Money Hungry Trainer". One thing that holds true is that people talk and when they do, make sure what they're saying is the same thing you stand for and say about yourself, your brand and your training.

Can You Really Help This Person?

Sometimes you'll run into a client that is willing to throw money your way, but in your heart you know that this person is not 100% committed to giving their best or you're not particularly an expert in what their goal involves. What do you do? Remember, you're building your brand as we speak and your clients are a reflection of your brand. This happens a lot actually. The answer is quite simple. Say no! If you come to me looking to perform Olympic lifts, sorry, I'm not your guy and I'm not going to fake it for the financial gain. You as the trainer will never enjoy that hour of training and will dred every session as it could've been spent on something more resourceful. The client will also pick this up maybe after a few sessions and will feel like they've wasted money, especially if he or she isn't reaching their goal.  Also, if the client hasn't fully committed to the goal and made it a personal decision, there's not much you as the coach can do other than to simply suggest that you're not the right fit for them at the time or for the client to reevaluate their goals and priorities. You will know this by your rapport with the client. Do both yourself and potential client a favor and know when to say no. 

Sometimes you'll run into a client that is willing to throw money your way, but in your heart you know that this person is not 100% committed to giving their best or you're not particularly an expert in what their goal involves. What do you do? Remember, you're building your brand as we speak and your clients are a reflection of your brand. This happens a lot actually. The answer is quite simple. Say no! If you come to me looking to perform Olympic lifts, sorry, I'm not your guy and I'm not going to fake it for the financial gain. You as the trainer will never enjoy that hour of training and will dred every session as it could've been spent on something more resourceful. The client will also pick this up maybe after a few sessions and will feel like they've wasted money, especially if he or she isn't reaching their goal.  Also, if the client hasn't fully committed to the goal and made it a personal decision, there's not much you as the coach can do other than to simply suggest that you're not the right fit for them at the time or for the client to reevaluate their goals and priorities. You will know this by your rapport with the client. Do both yourself and potential client a favor and know when to say no. 

Outsource It!

If you do have to turn down a client,  a great way to keep a your reputation and continue to build your brand and expand your network is to outsource certain parts of your program. Most of your clients have a doctor they typically visit at least 1 -2x per year. I've taken the extra steps to keep the line of communication open between my clients health care professionals and myself and one thing I can say is that both the client and doctor really appreciate this!! One common mistake is that we as trainers try to be doctors, dieticians, chiropractors and everything else! This could easily lead to a misdiagnosis and more importantly outside of most trainers scope of practice. Most health care professionals know that people need exercise. Here's the thing, doctors know medicine and diagnose diseases. Dieticians diagnose and manage eating disorders. Surgeons repair damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc. Trainers however,  are on the front line helping these health care professionals get our clients and patients back to optimal health and for the most part preventing these things from happening. We as trainers can't do their job just like they can't do ours. Would it not make sense to foster relationships with other healthcare professionals? Having a local physician, physical therapist, registered dietician, and surgeon in your network can and will lead to a pool of referrals!

If you do have to turn down a client,  a great way to keep a your reputation and continue to build your brand and expand your network is to outsource certain parts of your program. Most of your clients have a doctor they typically visit at least 1 -2x per year. I've taken the extra steps to keep the line of communication open between my clients health care professionals and myself and one thing I can say is that both the client and doctor really appreciate this!! One common mistake is that we as trainers try to be doctors, dieticians, chiropractors and everything else! This could easily lead to a misdiagnosis and more importantly outside of most trainers scope of practice. Most health care professionals know that people need exercise. Here's the thing, doctors know medicine and diagnose diseases. Dieticians diagnose and manage eating disorders. Surgeons repair damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc. Trainers however,  are on the front line helping these health care professionals get our clients and patients back to optimal health and for the most part preventing these things from happening. We as trainers can't do their job just like they can't do ours. Would it not make sense to foster relationships with other healthcare professionals? Having a local physician, physical therapist, registered dietician, and surgeon in your network can and will lead to a pool of referrals!

The big picture is you really have to think about the client first which sounds very cliché. What can you do to really help this person?  Can you or have you emotionally connected with the potential client? Do you need to partner with other professionals? Is this person really ready to make the necessary changes in order to reach their goal? If you honestly answer these questions, regardless of yes or no, you will make the best decision for your potential client and your brand.