Helping clients overcome challenges to achieve goals is a cornerstone of a coach’s purpose. Whether that goal is to drop some pounds, finish a Spartan Race or experience improved quality of life through movement, a good coach acts as a guide on the path to success. Unfortunately, and we know this all too well, that path is rarely linear. Motivation fluctuates, setbacks occur, aches and pains pop up—life has a way of throwing curveballs that disrupt the best-laid plans.
If you happened to join us at the recent TRX Summit in Austin, you might recall that nearly every presentation touched on this subject and offered solutions for how to keep clients motivated at every stage in the journey, and like a captain at sea, to adjust the sails when the winds threaten to throw you off course.
Whether a client arrives to you with an injury, low energy or you’re working with someone you just met, the following strategies will help you learn how to adjust your sails and provide the perfect training session—every single time.
Help the Client Own the Program
Years ago, psychologists Edward L. Deci, PhD, and Richard M. Ryan, PhD, developed a theory of motivation, called the Self-Determination Theory (SDT). The psychologists believe that a person will adopt healthy behaviors when he is intrinsically motivated to do so.
They suggest that someone is more likely to stick to a training program when he finds the exercises interesting or exciting. On the flip side, extrinsic goals like, say, losing 20 pounds or reaching a certain dress size has been linked with decreased adherence.
Deci and Ryan say, “Extrinsic goals such as financial success, appearance, and popularity/fame have been specifically contrasted with intrinsic goals such as community, close relationships, and personal growth, with the former more likely associated with lower wellness and greater ill-being.”
Leigh Crews, owner of Dynalife Inc. and TRX Master Trainer, referenced SDT in her Summit presentation as a helpful approach to keep clients and students engaged within a single session and throughout an entire training program.
During her presentation on training people through the stages, she explained that one way to appeal to a person’s intrinsic motivations is to offer choices instead of dictating what happens during a session. She might give her client three exercises and allow her to choose which one she prefers, for example. Not only does this improve the training dynamic, but it also helps the client take ownership over her training program. Crews explained that when the client becomes the owner of her program, she takes pride in it and will want to master it.
Which brings us to . . .
We all know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This saying rings true for health and exercise.
While it might seem counterintuitive to coach clients to become movement masters—why would they need you if they know what to do?—another element of SDT encourages mastery development.
We want our clients to see success and so it’s up to us to provide them all the tools to help them get there. Plus, isn’t it every coach’s dream that the client is motivated to get workouts in outside of scheduled sessions?
Another element of a focus on mastery is that it gives clients something else to work on while they tread toward the long-term goal.
For instance, let’s say your client struggles with the suspended push-up. As a knowledgeable coach, you understand progression models and can coach them step-by-step from a vertical wall press through the various stages until they are able to complete the suspended push-up with good form.
These little victories feed into a human’s innate need to be challenged at an appropriate level and then to overcome that challenge.
“One of the most important success strategies is to focus on proximal goals, not distal ones,” Crews explains.
The Flexibility to Modify
As a diligent, thoughtful coach, you arrive to each session prepared with a finely tuned and tailored workout. The i’s have been dotted and t’s are crossed. Despite your carefully crafted plan, your client doesn’t seem to be into it or is resistant to certain exercises or seems to have regressed after your last killer workout. Some trainers might insist on sticking to the plan because doing otherwise could slow progress.
Good coaches, on the other hand, will make adjustments to meet the abilities and efforts the client brings with him each day.
As Crews explains, it’s about taking your programming where your clients are and not the other way around.
If the client’s quads are unexpectedly sore, having her complete a series of suspended lunges might not be the best idea. Not only will she wince through every repetition—which downgrades workout satisfaction and efficacy—she’ll be at an increased risk of injury. So, perhaps you might shift the focus from lunges to hinges that day.
The TRX Suspension Training Course, which teaches foundational movement standards and how to apply appropriate modifications to optimally challenge each individual client, is founded on this principle. We want to provide coaches with the ability to help each client feel successful, no matter the state they’re in.
These are just three of the many success strategies that were shared with Summit attendees. The common thread that connected everything is to learn how to be where the client is at all times. When you’re able to adjust your movement and motivation game plan to meet your client’s needs, your client is set up for success for the long haul.
Check out the TRX Education Journey for more info on how to be a better coach.