How to take a client-centred approach to training

A few weeks ago I attended the CanFit Pro conference and took a workshop on motivational interviewing. I remember having a guest lecturer in university on this topic, so I definitely had to go and hear more about it again. Although I wasn’t 100% sure how this related to fitness, I quickly realized I practice motivational interviewing every day with my clients.

Motivational interviewing is a “person-centred” communication strategy used to elicit client motivation to change a negative behaviour. As a fitness coach, my goal is to help guide clients on the path to moving and feeling their best and practice positive behavioural changes around movement. We work with our clients to help them reach their goals, but this approach encourages you to treat your client as an equal in the process. The success lies in being able to meet your clients where they are at and respecting that.

I would like to think I already do this, but when those words were said aloud in the seminar it was brought to my attention that not all coaches and trainers are the same in this approach. The discussion of the coach’s approach led us on an interesting path, one that I have been struggling for quite some time in the industry.

Social media has been used more and more in many industries to gain clients, followers, and reach within the community. I, however, am most familiar with the fitness industry and online culture since I live in it every day.

Let’s go back to treating our clients as equals. 

Discover You Blog August 28th 2019

The presenter stated this important remark, which I have noticed within the industry…I guess I just needed someone else to put it into words for me. Why are fitness coaches put on a pedestal? Why do we look up to them as this greater than human being because they are deemed fit and post workout videos online? Is it about you or your client?

It all goes back to the client-centred approach. My biggest struggle with fitness professionals is that we are more worried about making ourselves look good when teaching a class or posting online that I am starting to wonder whether we are losing sight of the actual goal, which I think is to impact others and encourage them to live their best life? As professionals in the industry and humans who naturally seek instant gratification, we can often lose sight of the goal because we are doing what we need to get the follows, likes, comments, and attention. I think that the intentions were there originally, but in this crazy social media world we have gotten swept up in the glitz, glamour, and facade we can show online and really need to dig deep to get back to why we got into this field in the first place.

For me, my passion is educating and empowering people to take ownership of their life, physically, mentally, and emotionally, to feel their best.

Moving forward, to ensure I am maintaining a true client-centred approach, I am going to continue to commit to doing and reimplementing the following:

  • listening more than talking in our sessions

  • allow my clients to express their own ideas of what they want and need, helping me to treat them as an equal in the process rather than seeing me as in charge

  • encouraging them to talk about what is working and what is challenging

  • respecting where they are at on any given day given sleep, stress, life circumstances and working within that

  • empathize with my clients because I definitely don’t have it all going on all the time either

Let’s bring it back to why we started. It is always about the client.

Yours in self-discovery,