By using these cutting edge strategies, you can help even your toughest clients follow the rules.
In the fitness industry we often joke that clients are looking for “the magic pill.” But here’s the real joke: even if such a pill existed, clients wouldn’t actually take it.
Compliance — people doing what they know they should — is a critical problem in the fitness industry.
[The medical industry too: miracle cancer and diabetes drugs prescribed by MDs are taken a shockingly low 55% of the time.]
That’s why, in this video series, we’ll share 5 strategies for helping clients — even the toughest ones — follow the “rules.” The rules we know can change their lives.
This video is about 4 minutes long.
Involve clients in the change process
As we say in part 4 of this series, build habits within the context of a client’s life.
Taking on too much and suffering ambivalence from competing priorities is common.
Instead, help your client make change one habit at a time. Work with them to figure out and clearly understand their priorities.
Here’s another important insight.
Usually our clients aren’t ignoring our suggestions out of spite. Most simply don’t think these actions are possible or sufficiently meaningful for them.
A diehard carnivore might find “eat 5 vegetables a day” as momentous a task as climbing Everest.
So, why not ask for your client’s feedback before dishing out advice? Really, when’s the last time you asked:
- What’s truly important to you right now?
- In what ways do you feel ready to change?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can do what I have asked?
In our practice, we ask this of each client. It shapes our advice and enlists the client in the change process.
For example, if their answer is less than a 9 or 10 on a given task, we know they won’t do what we’re asking. So we make the task easier.
We keep simplifying, clarifying, and reducing the difficulty until that client can give us a heartfelt 9 or 10 on the confidence scale.
Research shows that people always want to feel they have choice – and that they are charge of their own lives.
So view your clients as collaborators and yourself as a guide or facilitator rather than an expert. Highlight where they feel confident, and start there.
Coaching in the real world
As we continue to think through this process, it’s important to point out that this isn’t just theoretical knowledge. This advice is tested and true.
In fact, we’ve successfully implemented the principles outlined in this article in our Lean Eating Coaching Program, a nutrition and lifestyle initiative that some have called “the world’s largest body transformation program.”
Remember the 55% prescription medication compliance – compliance to a quick, life-saving pill-popping?
Well, using these principles of effective change, our clients – over 10,000 of them to date – do what we ask of them an amazing 71% of the time.
As a result, they’ve achieved (and maintained) a weight loss of over 180,000 pounds.
Wrap-up and takeaways
That’s it for part 5 of Cutting Edge Fitness and Nutrition Coaching.
Now, let’s summarize the key principles:
Change is hard.
Understand that in asking clients to change, we’re asking them to go against some basic brain circuitry that normally favours safety and security.
To prepare your clients for change, you need to:
- speak to your clients’ rider (the rational-judging brain);
- guide the elephant (the intuitive-feeling-sensing brain); and
- shape the path (the client’s environment and life structures).
Inhibit “analysis paralysis”.
To make changes we must silence the critical self while releasing and facilitating the “flow self” through simple, meaningful tasks.
Make change meaningful.
Make sure the change is salient to the client . Ask questions, listen carefully, and try to empathize with their point of view.
Choose one practical change at a time.
Develop it collaboratively with the client, and make that change as small and do-able as possible.
Periodically test and re-test the client’s confidence. If the task is too big, shrink it further.
These principles are simple to understand and use. In fact, you could use this simple one-habit method in your own practice, starting immediately.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s truly important to me in terms of the deeper principles that guide my own practice?
- Where am I not living those principles? What’s my limiting factor(s) that prevent me from doing this effectively?
- What is one simple, clear, practical, and very small habit I can start to do immediately?
- How confident am I that I can do it every day? (If you’re less than 9/10, make the task easier).
Then write your task down on a post-it note, refer to it 10 times today, and get going!
If you’re a coach, or you want to be…
You can help people build sustainable nutrition and lifestyle habits that will significantly improve their physical and mental health—while you make a great living doing what you love. We'll show you how.
If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.