Programs are only a part of the program: 3 key assets to program adherence

You have a new client. You have taken initial intake forms with you such as the Par-Q. You have completed the necessary assessments, including postural assessments, movement analyses including lunge/squat/push/pull movements and core stability evaluations.  You have evaluated flexibility (read about all the components to a well-rounded physical assessment here). Based on your evaluation, you have identified necessary components to begin a program.

The true work does not stop here once you find or create inspirational workouts to help your client. The true work lies in the ability to see the person you are training for who they are, have empathy for them, and develop and customize a program based upon their likes and dislikes to improve program adherence. Anyone can get a workout online these days from anywhere. At FitSwop, we believe we have some of the best tested workout programs there are, established and tested in the field by our fit pros. However, even the best programs in the world cannot replace the importance assets necessary for program adherence. Read on to determine those assets.

 “…see the person you are training for who they are, have empathy for them, and develop and customize a program based upon their likes and dislikes to improve program adherence.”

  1. How does personality play a role? Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies highlights the differences in motivational factors for four different types of people. Her research attempts to answer two important questions that personal trainers face: How do I get clients to do what I want? (i.e. program adherence) by answering the question “How does my client respond to expectations? There are four types: obligers, upholders, questioners, and rebels. There is a simple quiz on her website to help you to determine who you are, and who your clients are. While Obligers need external accountability, Upholders rely on intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and Questioners will question the validity and science behind everything. Knowing what motivates your client really helps you to identify the right approach needed for program adherence.
  2. What activities does your client like? Forget what they are supposed to do. If it were that simple, we would all be doing it. Guidelines exist in our training, whether those guidelines are provided by the or the certifying bodies we receive our training through.  However, how many people truly adhere to these guidelines? Logistically, there is no one size fits all approach. Some people literally cringe when you tell them the number of days of resistance training required versus cardio work they “have to” do. Identify their likes and dislikes. Take it back to their childhood and ask them what they did for fun. Build functional movement into the program that is motivating. Just get them moving doing something that peaks their interest first and foremost. Did they like dance as a child? They may like a Barre class. Hiking? Find them a nature walk group (especially if they are an obliger and need extra accountability) that gets them out in nature and with a group. Love strength training but dislike the gym? Meet them out in the community if possible and show them alternatives to coming into the gym and pumping iron. Think outside the box constantly by looking at the person.
  3. Nutrition may not be in your scope of practice, but…it cannot be ignored either. Nutrition is a tricky subject for trainers, but research indicates it is entirely the need for focus if weight loss is a goal. In this current state of obesity, weight loss is very often the goal. Past studies have touted the phrase “80% what you eat, 20% how you move” to indicate that exercise has only about 20% impact on weight loss, while what you eat accounts for 80%. Recent studies don’t even give exercise that much cred. No one undermines how important exercise is to health and wellness. However, as this article states, researchers state “You cannot outrun a bad diet.” So, what is a fitness professional to do? Well, that depends. Typically for a trainer to stay appropriately within their scope of practice, a trainer may give standard advice or informational handouts providing generic information, such as a handout on the U.S. dietary guidelines. This may work for some (such as your upholders, if you completed step one). However, for many, the issue of eating goes far beyond eating itself. Eating is an emotional subject for many, and it is wise to determine how emotional this is and make the appropriate referrals if necessary. As trainers, if the goal is weight loss, we simply cannot avoid the topic of food. However, getting our clients to the right place is our role, not to become their dietician and their therapist. Encourage self-introspection, by having open dialogue about their eating habits and provide referrals or insights into how they can change their habits, which is the underlying train wreck behind most of our eating habits.  Determine how you can help your client look at their eating habits further. Do they like books? Provide some recommendations such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, or The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. If the need it, there are plenty of resources on emotional eating if your client is open about their struggle with emotional eating. Not a book lover? Find what appeals to them. We cannot fix client’s eating problems, but we cannot ignore them either, especially if weight loss is the goal for them. Don’t be the expert, simply help get them where they need to be.

A common mistake we all make was referenced by Steven Covey when he originally wrote The Seven Habits. He basically stated that we all look at the world from our own unique viewpoint. We assume much information is “fact” when it is solely our brain’s interpretation of the world. We suspect therefore that others look at things the same way we do, and it is one of the many reasons service industry jobs are difficult. We build a program and a plan based on what we would do, not by what our client would do. We build a program based on ourselves, not on them. In order to truly inspire change and get people to move more, we must pay attention to them, help them learn about themselves, and empower them to make choices that bring about lasting change.


Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight

The Science is In: exercise won’t help you lose much weight.

The Components of a Good Fitness Assessment