What doing 100’s of consultations has taught me about sticking to exercise
I have been doing client consultations now for over 16 years during that time I’ve gained such an insight into the reasons why people want to get fitter and healthier and also what peoples fears and barriers are that are stopping them getting the results they want for their health.
Before going into the main drivers and barriers I want to shine a light on why doing a consultation with a client is an absolute must for us and in my opinion perhaps the most important step in many of their journeys. When I used to manage gyms, I watched trainers doing program cards with members where they would sit the person down and say to them “ok why do you want to start this program?” and almost always the answer was:
“To lose weight and tone up!”
…to which the trainer would reply ok, then start on with writing them a generic fitness plan.
That process right there is why so few people are getting results with their fitness goals in gyms. A good consultation should have the participant really digging deeply into their own personal reasons on why they want to make a change and then have them highlight all the benefits achieving this goal will have on their lives.
It is then important that they are supported in identifying 1-3 key actions that they can implement straight away. Done correctly this can be a really powerful thing, often because they have verbalised their thoughts and beliefs for the first time in many years or perhaps ever. This can be a huge motivator and can shift their psyche away from all the negative thoughts they may have about themselves, to having more positive and motivational beliefs and a mindset which can be vital for harnessing change.
A well delivered consultation should provide the person with a degree of autonomy as research has shown that if a person feels they have had some input and control over their plan they are much more likely to stick with it. So a trainer dictating their beliefs to a client is a big no no for getting client buy in.
Ok so lets get down the most common things people have told me in their consultations (remember most of our clients are over 50 so these reasons will tend to relate to people in this stage of life).
- They are worried about their health and what life would be like if they didn’t have good health. For many people the decade between 50-60 can be seen as a crossroads for different reasons, their kids may be moving out and having families. Some may be planning for retirement or reducing workloads and many know deep down that if they don’t take action on their health regime soon they may start to lose control of what their health and life looks like (for me personally I love to hear this in a consultation because as a trainer there is not a better feeling than working with someone who wants to add quality years to their life.
- They want to feel young and have energy. Many people at this stage in their life are becoming grandparents, or have other family responsibilities and can often feel like they get home from work and just collapse into the couch and watch TV. They realise that being fitter and healthier will give them the get up and go to do more with their lives. One of the favourite things I heard a new client say recently was “I just want to be able to say yes to more things because I will have the energy to do it!” and I thought this was a great way of summing up what more energy will mean to them.
- Lots of clients start with us because they say they want to look better but are concerned that this makes them vain. I reassure them that how we feel about ourselves can have a real impact on all areas of our life. If you are not comfortable with how you look it will have an impact in almost everything you do. Often they can hang back from doing things because they do not like how they look. So no, wanting to look better is not just simply being vain, it can literally change your life.
- Many start using the gym because they know if they want to keep up their hobbies for years to come they will need a body that is robust and strong which will allow them to continue cycling, golf, tennis, walking or whatever it is they enjoy doing. The body is an amazing machine if you nurture it properly then getting older doesn’t have to mean that you need to stop doing the things you enjoy.
- It is well documented now that exercise can have a big benefit on our mental health. And more and more people that start with us to not only improve their physical health, but also improve their mental health. Exercising releases lots of good hormones that can pick up our moods and can also be a great way to relieve and process the stressors in life. And the sense of satisfaction in achieving something for yourself can be great for your self-esteem.
- To be a role model. Over the years we have had lots of clients who are parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, bosses and friends of people they would like to inspire to live a healthier life and they realise that if they can be beacon of what being healthy looks like then hopefully others will come along for the ride. We often hear a client come in and say “my partner is seeing the changes in me and they have started working out and eating healthier as well!”.
- Another common theme discussed in consultations is that people highlight that they need help because they have struggled to either get results or maintain results in the past. The most common reasons given for this are that they lose motivation or get bored and fall of the wagon, or that they are unsure of what they should be doing in the gym; Much of these issues can be overcome with perhaps filling in any knowledge gaps they may have, giving them some accountability or providing better structure to their workout or just simply going through the process of the consultation which can really crystallise their reasons why they want and need to do this and this can be what keeps them motivated and on track.
So to conclude, the process of going through a consultation can often be the missing link for many people who either can’t get started or can’t stick to a healthier lifestyle. Setting yourself some long and short term goals can be really beneficial, but what is even more important is the need to establish all the reasons why you want and need to achieve these goals and then coming up with 1-3 key actions that will start moving you forward.
So as Vodafone like to say “It’s Good To Talk” …especially when you are trying to get in better shape and healthier.
PS – If you would like a consultation to go through this process with us we offer this as a FREE service for anyone considering working with us. For all our current clients, don’t forget this is something we can revisit with you at any time!