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Coach/Client Relationship

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When people turn to coaches for health, fitness, and nutrition advice there will surely be obstacles, setbacks, wandering motivation and resistance that will bring a list of coach/client challenges.

Even with 6 years of coaching, the list of certifications and continuing education courses I have taken I still hit coaching/client roadblocks fairly regular.

I need fresh ideas for the client who just can’t get motivated, or the client that is so stressed that just putting on their clothes in the morning is an epic task. How about the client whose measurable progress has plateaued; I need a creative way to keep them engaged.

When we see or hear the word “Coach” or “Trainer” we typically think it’s a person who just puts someone through a workout and that’s it. For some that might hold true but not for all.

Coaching Is A “Relationship” Business.

As coaches, we are in the relationship business. We have to deliver value and connect with our clients. It never ends. It’s not supposed to.

With any “relationship” there is a “trust” and “psychology” component. This holds true for our coach/client relationships.  An example of how coaches use psychology would be if a potential client or current client asks nit-picky questions like:

“What about this supplement, or that?”

“What do you think about this theory / guru / article / workout?”

What about when (this) happens? What then?”..

Instead of adding to anxiety of the client, coaches should direct them to the only two questions that really matter.

“What should I do today?”

“How do I do it”.

These two questions leads clients toward a calm & focused action.

While our job is to change your physical attributes and give you the gains you are looking for it is nearly impossible to accomplish this without psychologically changing your “behaviors”.

Behavior is the driver behind it all.  As coaches we are guilty of giving praise for “results” but results are unpredictable therefore it doesn’t make sense to praise metrics. Clients have limited control over results. On the flip side, “behaviors” are controllable and consistent behaviors often lead to long-term, sustainable outcomes.

When we praise behaviors instead of results or outcomes, people will associate taking action and showing up — not on what the outcome or result was.

We often think that changing our behavior is about motivation or willpower. That is a false statement. Changing your behavior is about changing your “enviroment”.  An example would be when I was in the military and I had to wake up at zero dark thirty in the middle of winter, leave my comfy warm bed to go train in skinny shorts and a t-shirt. Instead of trying to muster more “motivation” or “willpower” I simply moved my alarm clock to the other side of the room. I had to leap out of bed to turn it off. Problem solved. No “willpower” needed.

A bad habit is the result of a behavior challenge. No amount of lecturing or motivating can break a bad habit. The behavior that determines the habit must be changed to make goal-oriented decisions instead of habitual reactions. We have all heard our clients say something like this:

“I was doing great with my workouts but then this thing happened and I got stressed / overwhelmed / busy and I stopped.”

Research has found that stress literally changes the parts of your brian involved in decision-making, pushing us away from goal-directed behavior ( “I do this, I lose weight” ) to habitual reactions of ( “Me tired, me stay on the couch” ).

Being a coach / trainer is a hard job. Challenges and roadblocks can cause frustration and greatly impact the coach/client realtionship if it is not handled appropriatley. We got into this line of work to “help people” as most do. We need to remember that and ask ourselves:

“How can I help this person move forward today”?

A coaches job is far more than simply putting a workout together and having someone sweat and jump around. It is our job to develop an understanding of who you are, build a lasting relationship and empower behaviors that leave you capable of making goal-oriented decisions.