If your clients don't make healthy choices outside of the gym, the best training program in the world can't help them. The worst part? Those clients might blame you if they fail to lose weight. No matter how frustrated you get, try to be compassionate. Simply being aware of the common causes of failure might help. If you want to be a better trainer, check out these seven reasons your personal training clients may be struggling with compliance.
1. They have busy lives.
It's not easy to find the time to prepare a nutritious meal when you're a single parent working a full-time job. It's hard to resist the convenience of a fast-food restaurant when you have to drive straight from work to your kid's soccer practice. Our modern society is so obsessed with being "busy" that most people have forgotten how to care of themselves. How about sending your clients a homework assignment that they could do while watching their kids’ soccer game, or one they could do in a hotel while on their business trip? The days of having to see a client in person for you to add value to their lives are over.
2. They eat impulsively.
This constant stream of activity often causes your clients to eat whatever happens to be in front of them. If they are walking down the street and notice a pleasurable scent drifting from a bakery, temptation might get the best of them. Some of your clients might even be emotional eaters. Anything from a stressful day at work to an argument with their partner could trigger a craving that's hard to resist. A solution you might try is sharing healthy snack ideas with them that you find online. Adopt a firm but consistent stand that remains within your scope of practice, yet provides credible information so your clients can make their own informed decisions.
3. They fail to plan ahead.
It's easier to manage cravings and navigate a busy schedule when you plan ahead. Busy people could prepare by cooking in bulk on the least busy day of the week. If they'd rather eat out, they could search for area restaurant menus and nutrition facts. Emotional eaters can brace themselves for cravings by keeping a healthy snack in their pocket or purse at all times. A Ziploc bag of almonds or carrots are a good choice. Teach your clients to pause and reflect before every eating decision.
4. They don't have social support.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live with people who complain every time you try to cook something healthy? That could be an everyday reality for your clients. While friends and family should be supportive, that's not always the case. Sometimes, the people you love most can be your biggest saboteurs. You can help your clients by having them write down their goals, preferably online, so they can share their progress on social media. This will help their network of friends understand the importance of success.
5. They work in a toxic environment.
In most work environments, junk food is constantly available, and your clients will have to swim against the current if they want to achieve their fitness goals. Self-control is a limited resource, so they might need to distance themselves from the situation. One way to do this is by eating lunch outside when the break-room is too tempting.
6. They overestimate the impact of exercise.
Exercise isn't merely about weight-loss. Working out helps individuals get focused, deal with stress and become a stronger person. Research shows exercise can treat depression just as well as a prescription antidepressant. Remind your clients of all these benefits when they get discouraged about their rate of weight loss. Yes, exercise does burn calories, but those calories are a small percentage of the total number of calories your clients consume every day. Empower your clients by making sure they understand that results are reserved for people who exercise and eat healthy.
7. They don't know how to fail with grace and dignity.
Most people don't stop after eating one potato chip. They feel guilty for eating that potato chip, beat themselves up, and decide they might as well eat the whole bag because they're such a big, fat failure. People tend to be too hard on themselves. It's a natural part of the human experience. Even so, self-loathing isn't an effective motivational technique. We all mess up sometimes. Your clients need to work on how they react to mistakes. It's best to acknowledge the mistake, learn something from it and let it go. As long as they can do those three things consistently, they will improve the quality of their decisions over time.
Don't give up on your personal training clients, no matter how hard they struggle with compliance. These are the clients who need your help the most.