In Search of Client ‘Success’: The Shaping of My Coaching

I used to think if I gave my clients the right tools and education–showed them what to do–they would just naturally be successful in their weight loss/fat loss/fitness goals.  They would just ‘find their way,’ and it would work…not so much.

Then I thought I thought if I just gave them more support and encouragement, they would meet their goals and keep on the successful path…not so much.

Then I thought that if I just gave them more tough love, because obviously they didn’t have enough structure or accountability to keep them on track (sarcasm), that would do it…and, again, not so much.

Then I thought if I created the absolute best, most perfect program for each unique client, that would be the golden ticket to their assured success (and therefore MINE)…and this helped, it worked a bit better, but still wasn’t enough.

Then I sat with the dilemma.  There was obviously something I was missing, something that was lacking in MY thinking, training and coaching, not that of my clients.  I read more from a variety of trainers, coaches, and behavior specialists.  I reflected on my successful trainer-client relationships and experiences, and reflected even more on my UNsuccessful trainer-client relationships and experiences.  The answer was that empathy was missing.  True, complete empathy–which is basically defined as “the ability to perceive a situation from the other person’s perspective.  To see, hear and feel the unique world of the other.” (Arn Ivey, Paul Pederson and Mary Ivey)

It turns out, I had gotten REALLY good at knowing what was best for a client and trying to give them that, even if it wasn’t what they really wanted and needed.  I had TONS of training tools at my disposal, reliable and knowledgeable mentors and physical therapists with whom I could consult, a huge amount of enthusiasm for training and willingness to do endless research, and an analytic brain that loves problem-solving–so I could figure out what it was they physically needed to do to get closer to their objectives…and it wasn’t what they really needed.

“Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.” ~Albert Einstein

What my clients really needed was for me to be able to really HEAR them, to really SEE them, to be able to see the world from their eyes and walk in their shoes.  What they didn’t need was for me to ‘fix’ them or judge them into compliance.  I allowed myself to get caught up in the competitive personal trainer rat-race of who could get the most results from their clients, and in doing so my training often (not always) became more about ME than it was about THEM.

What people need most, what they respond to the most is empathy–being seen and understood, and getting the fitness/nutrition/lifestyle programming and coaching that matches the needs and wants of their unique life and lifestyle, AND, moreover, people want and need choice, they need ownership of their fitness.  ‘Perfect’ programs are only ‘perfect’ if they work for the person they are designed for; ‘perfect’ programs are only ‘perfect’ if they can not just be followed, but integrated into one’s life in a manageable and sustainable way.

If a program, plan or approach doesn’t ‘gel’ with a person, they won’t continue with it.  THAT’S not so perfect.

But we’re not after perfect anyway:  the real goal is IDEAL.  And ideal is making a plan or program that is harmonious with one’s real life.

“In between goals there is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.”

~Sid Caesar 

When I started applying the concept of making each person’s fitness and nutrition more ‘harmonious’ with their real lives, I started seeing more compliance with the plan, more weight loss and fat loss and mobility success, more feelings of success and more JOY.  That is potent stuff.

 I learned to work with my clients in true partnership, and that WORKS.


These ladies.  They are the real deal :)

These ladies. They are the real deal :)

My education, knowledge, and experience as a trainer, my own life experience with 40+years of complications and challenges make it so I can empathize, program, and problem-solve in a way that is more effective, more sustainable for each client.

Those are the themes of my training and coaching:  practical, sustainable, and right for you–as you are now, living the very real life you have.  Ideal for you is what I’m after, and ideal for you is what I’m determined to deliver.

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