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July 2012

Three Ways to Help Clients Overcome Their Resistance to Change

Old habits die hard. Personal trainers probably know that better than most.

Nearly every day you encounter people who hate change. Whether you’re working with an obese client who refuses to change her diet or a competitive athlete who believes his way of getting stronger and more powerful is better than yours, you see it.

“Having others work hard to achieve a goal—not because you’re forcing them to but because they choose to—is exactly the challenge leaders face in organizations every day,” said Peter Bregman in a 2009 Harvard Business Review article.

Personal trainers are no different. You may not be part of a corporation, but you serve as a leader in the lives of people who train with you.

The challenge comes in balancing telling clients what to do and spending time helping them discover why they should bother making the effort.

Beat the “I Hate Change” mentality with these three strategies:

1. Start with the desired change.

Too many times to count, clients enter personal training sessions with the desire to “get in shape” or “tone up.” Good personal trainers delve deeper into what their clients really want out of their fitness goals before breaking out cardio and abdominal exercises. They ask questions until they get deep enough to make their clients’ goals specific, relevant and meaningful. For example, instead of “get in shape,” clients may alter their goal to “walk a half-marathon to celebrate my upcoming birthday.”

2. Discover the powerful emotional reasons why the change matters.

Different life changes inspire clients to seek out help in meeting their fitness goals. It may be that they see their bad habits rubbing off on their children or perhaps they want to train for a specific athletic event. Sometimes finding that motivation means repeating the same questions over and over to get help clients truly understand why they want something. But once you find it, you’ll discover why your client cares about a specific goal.

3. Start to teach the “how.”

Once you know what your client wants and why they want it, you can move toward helping them get there. Keep revisiting the reasons that brought them to you in the first place, and use it as motivation for them every day.

These strategies may sound difficult to put into practice, but consider this: Millions of people each year have babies. Clearly, the life changes that come along with having a child aren’t always convenient. People know ahead of time that there will be many sleepless nights that come with it. But those changes don’t outweigh their desire to have a baby.

It all goes back to one key element: People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.

Learn more about “Overcoming the ‘I Hate Change’ Mentality” in our July 11, 2012, webinar by Jonathan Ross. Sign up today online or by calling 800-825-3636. 

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