As we steamroll into April, the promises and resolutions we made at the beginning of the year to stay positive, and make healthy changes have probably dropped like a hot brick. But as a passionate coach, you can help your clients maintain focus and turn those fitness goals into habits that stick for the long-haul. We’ve put together a list of strategies you can use to support their efforts.
1. Refine Your Coaching Style
You’re not 100% responsible for client success. A coach can’t make anyone change their behaviors because, ultimately, it’s up to the individual to do that. However, the best coaches understand behavior change psychology and how to leverage it to spark lasting motivation in their clients. They hone their soft skills like eye contact and body language as well as the hard skills like swing thoughts and movement cues. They also know when to switch from being a sensei—an expert who inspires confidence through demeanor and mastery—to a cheerleader—an energetic coach who inspires through fun—at any given moment.
If your clients struggle to see change, perhaps it’s time do a little self-evaluation and determine whether your coaching style could use a little fine tuning. There are several ways to do that. The simplest is to ask each client what type of coach they prefer. Some appreciate tough love while others prefer a softer approach. Each individual is different and will require you to adjust your coaching style to meet their needs.
Another option is to participate in continuing education courses so you can learn behavior change strategies from top coaches and then find ways to implement those strategies into your training sessions.
2. Foster Friendly Challenges
Most clients try to give their best effort during training sessions. They watch their form, pump out extra reps and leave your workouts fatigued and happy. But one of the greatest challenges we face is finding ways to keep them motivated to move and make good choices during the other 165 hours in the week. We know that sitting is like smoking and it’s all-too-easy to hit up the nearest calorie dense fast food joint on the way home from a long day at work. So, how do you encourage better behaviors when they’re out in the wild?
Wearables like Apple Watches, Fitbit and Garmin are great motivational tools that allow you to challenge others to move more. You can send individual challenges to clients or up the ante by pitting clients against one another in a group. There’s nothing more motivating than friendly competition and knowing that others are following your progress.
These types of challenges also work through social media, text or email. For example, how about a “go green” veggie challenge? Each time your client eats a vegetable, have them take a picture for documentation and post it in a group Facebook page or on Instagram and tag you. For extra incentive, you might reward the client with the most participation a gift card to Whole Foods or local healthy restaurant.
It’s important to be smart about who you invite to take challenges, however. Research shows that some people thrive on them whereas others experience the opposite response.
3. Keep in Contact
Speaking of communication, success potential improves when you keep the lines open and check in on your clients throughout the week. One way to do that is to send them notes on a regular basis via email or text.
When sending messages, be sure they’re specific and require some sort of response. Phrases like, “I hope you’re keeping up with your goals,” or motivational quotes might seem helpful, they don’t exactly elicit much in the way of thought or conversation.
Instead, ask questions that get clients thinking and that promote autonomy and ownership over the decisions they make. For example, you might ask something like, “What do you think has gotten in the way of achieving your goals this week and what can you do to avoid it in the future?” Or, maybe, “What is a decision you made today that you’re proud of?” Asking questions that require critical thinking is akin to that whole teaching a person to fish philosophy. It makes the client a more active participant in their successes and helps them tune into their behaviors so they can begin to adjust their sails and become more self-reliant on the journey to better.
4. Refresh Your Movement Library
Have your workouts or classes gotten stale? We’d like to think we deliver killer sessions day in and out, but even the most prolific program designers fall into ruts. While consistency is key and adaptation happens with repetition, it’s also important to throw new movements into the mix to keep clients from getting bored. Bored clients are unhappy clients.
A great way to refresh your exercise repertoire is to see what others in the industry do. Taking a course like our Functional Training Course can help you learn new movements and progressions using a variety of tools like the Rip Trainer, kettlebells, medicine balls and more. Of course, if an educational workshop isn’t in the time or money budget, there are other options like picking up a TRX CORE Membership which grants you access to new workouts, tips and videos or downloading one-off workouts produced by top TRX faculty.
5. Support Healthy Habits
You can’t be with your clients at every moment and sending regular email or text reminders about their goals only goes so far. If you read our previous post on career-based resolutions, you learned about habit apps, which users can download to their smart device and input behaviors they’d like to turn into a habit. Many of these apps offer reminders, track data, include social components and more. Here are a few to recommend to clients:
* StickK was developed by behavior experts at Yale University and requires you to make a contract with yourself to achieve your goals. The whole concept is based on the “Nudge Theory” developed by Nobel prize winner Richard Thaley. As an added bonus, you can assign someone you know to check in on your progress to make sure you’re moving toward your goals.
* Habit Share relies on connections to boost accountability. Essentially, you and your network post the habits you’d like to set and then motivate each other to achieve them. Sharing isn’t mandatory; there are a variety of privacy settings to choose from.
* Habit List helps you stay on track with reminders and badges. The app also allows you to schedule monthly habits like paying bills, create intervals like workout days or multiple daily reminders to drink water, for example.
While your client is ultimately responsible for setting and keeping resolutions, there’s plenty that you can do to help them see success. And remember that it’s always a work in progress and behavior change is tricky so be prepared to make lots of adjustments along the way.
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