If you have coached for any period of time, you probably agree getting clients to commit to the training in the gym is the easy part. After all, it only consumes just one hour of their day three to five days a week. It’s the other 23 hours of the day—where even bigger changes need to be made—that’s the real challenge.
Getting your clients to make lasting lifestyle changes is absolutely the biggest challenge you face as a coach.
But doing just this is the impetus behind OPEX’s lifestyle consults, where coaches meet their clients once a month to talk, discuss, rehash and come up with a practical plan on how they can make lasting lifestyle changes to improve their lives.
When clients are able to do this, they see far bigger results than diligently following a training program could ever provide. And when they see these types of results, they will continue to value your coaching service and ultimately keep paying you money month after month, year after year.
Take it from OPEX North Scottsdale client Nicole Chambers, who managed to fix ongoing health issues—specifically chronic inflammation and thyroid problems—through addressing her diet with her coach during her lifestyle consults.
“Sometimes I go in with a list of questions, and sometimes we just chat, but it’s great having a coach that cares about how my life is going outside of the gym,” Chambers said.
The same is true of OPEX Regina client Tiffany Wolf.
“This is the longest I have stuck with anyone in my life that I’m not related to,” Wolf said of her relationship with her coach. “It’s a support system unlike anything else in my life because it supports every aspect of my life. My friends always ask me why I pay $250 to $300 to go to the gym. …But I explain to them if I were to break it all down, the amount I would have to pay to get what I’m getting—a personal trainer, access to a facility, someone to support me emotionally, a business coach, someone to hold me accountable to all my goals, and someone to help me with my nutrition—it would be so much more than that. It’s absolutely worth it to me.”
But how do you actually go about forming these types of connections with your clients and creating an environment where they are willing to be vulnerable and open to feedback?
While there’s no magic formula, here are 5 tips OPEX coaches offered to get your clients fixing the other 23 hours of their lives:
OPEX Coach Scott Brewer explained that he has the most success when he allows his client to dictate the conversation, as it usually leads the client to make a self-discovery, he explained.
“I have learned when to ask questions and when to keep my mouth shut,” Brewer said.
OPEX Coach Henry Torano agrees: Your job is to listen and let the client lead, he said.
“I usually open up by asking, ‘Is there anything you want me to go over?’” he said. “This gives them the opportunity to talk, express what’s on their mind. From there on out, I’m like a hawk looking for details, body language, any type of opening to dig in and be able to peel the layers of the onion.”
And then when it is your time to talk as the coach, your job is to inquire. To push your clients to more self-discoveries, gently probe a bit by asking why why why. The key is to ask why not with judgment, but with compassion.
When you do start asking the uncomfortable questions to address elephants in the room, learn to be ok with sitting in silence as they work through why they feel the way they feel and why they take the actions they take.
Discovering their true why is often the first step in figuring out how to align their actions to their goals. Or as Brewer said, making why discoveries is the key to longevity. Learn how to discover your client’s why here.
Often clients are scared to make changes because they’re scared to fail. After all, this is what has always happened in the past when they have tried to change their diet.
Helping them rethink the way they see failure—it’s simply feedback to be used for the future—can help put them on a path where they expect the process to require some trial and error, as well as failures and setbacks. Once they accept failures and setbacks as part of the trial and error process, then they’re less likely to fall off the path the moment they mess up.
Then when you meet with them during your consults, you can dive into how things are working and what they’re learning along the way—and then reassess how to proceed moving forward—instead of simply just focusing on the fact that they failed their original plan.
It sounds simple, but it’s important to remember to actually prepare before each client consult. Brewer suggests looking over notes from the previous session as well as writing down topics you intend to discuss at the next consult.
Brewer likes to lead with an easy topic—the training program and how it’s working—and then get into compliance, nutrition, and lifestyle.
After his consults, Brewer also sends a synopsis to his client of what was discussed, as well as an action plan to implement in the TrueCoach app. This helps the client stay more accountable instead of leaving the meeting and forgetting everything that was discussed. It also gives them something tangible to work on, all the while keeping everything on one platform (TrueCoach).
Torano reiterated the importance of how educating your clients is the best tool to get them to buy into making real changes.
“People will not make hard change unless they’re convinced why they’re doing it,” Torano said.
While some clients will just blindly trust your knowledge as a coach, others need to read a book about it, attend a seminar or conference, or see an academic study.
“My job is to find a way to get the message through and make it sink in. When (a client) fully understands and is committed to what he’s doing, it’s easier to correct behavior, as change isn’t perceived as a sacrifice (anymore),” Torano said.
The key is finding out how each client needs to be educated in order to make real, lasting change.
The most important part of the process is to get to know exactly where the client is at and what his goals are.
It’s easy to make assumptions about what clients’ goals should be based on their lifestyle habits or body composition and then to prescribe lifestyle changes accordingly, but this usually backfires because the client just won’t be committed to your prescription.
Instead, it’s important to meet your client where he’s at and to accept his goals, even if they don’t seem like the right ones to you. Often, however, clients don’t really know what they want so they don’t even know where they’re at.
This goes back to the concept of helping them uncover why. Once they figure out what they really want and what they’re willing to commit to, then you can truly meet them where they’re at and come up with a realistic, practical plan to help them.