How to Create Autonomous Clients - By Carl Hardwick

How to Create Autonomous Clients - By Carl Hardwick

In last week's post, I discussed why we want to create autonomous clients. Today I'll discuss how to do it. 

First, Define Autonomy

Autonomy does not mean you are firing all your clients at the end of their first 12-month contract. 

It also does not mean that you are telling each one of your clients they have to leave after they pass the ‘autonomy test’ (we don’t actually have this, but not too bad of an idea). 

Autonomy simply means they want you but do not need you. 

If you die today, they will know how to walk into a commercial gym and not be the person that mimics what the fittest looking guy or girl is doing. They understand the importance of Basic Lifestyle Guidelines and how to implement them. And they can teach their children these simple things.


Second, Set Expectations

You have to be clear with expectations upfront with your clients. You have to be clear that you want to teach them how to take care of their own bodies. Be clear about why this learning aspect is a part of your service offering.


Autonomy in Exercise

There will be a period of time when your client just needs to "do." They need to learn how to move their own bodies through patterns, how to breathe effectively when fatigued, and how to organize their days to get outside and get in quality food 3 times per day. 

Here’s how you can begin to teach autonomy in this learning phase:

  • Long-Term Plan - Share this with your client. Talk about what you are doing, how long you’re doing it, what it’s leading to, and the aim.
  • Short-Term & Daily Plans - Talk about short-term focuses. Explain what they are doing Monday-Sunday, why priorities are priorities, and what the goal is through cycles.
  • Sessions - Start to sprinkle in autonomous prescriptions and language.
    • Instead of writing their warm-ups each session, start to use things like 5-minute warm-up of choice. Let’s be honest, we’ve prescribed enough dead bugs.
    • In CoachRx Coaches Notes, start adding things like self-regulate loading and improve quality of movement over anything today, etc.
    • When your clients are ready, explore simply prescribing patterns and allow them to choose their own exercises for those patterns. Have a conversation around what they chose, how it felt, give feedback on exercise selection, etc.


Autonomy in Lifestyle & Nutrition

This is a bit easier than exercise. If our goal is to create solid habits with our clients, by definition, those behaviors must eventually be made by the client, executed by the client, and for reasons known by the client. 

Perform a lifestyle assessment by understanding where they sit on the Basic Lifestyle Guidelines. You will then understand where they fall short and where your priorities sit. 

Prescribe clear interventions while teaching your clients where they are falling short, why this prescription, and that the intention is for them to build these as habits so they will not have to always count their chews, time their walks, and plug-in sleep hygiene results in CoachRx. 

Again, be very clear you are building habits, not just checking a box daily.

There are many other tactics to build an autonomous client, but start with these simple ones and see how they help you move your clients towards fitness freedom.


This rounds out my coach's tips series. I hope you gained some insight and found a few new ways to work with your clients and achieve greater success.



1: Purpose before Prosperity as a Coach

2: Value & Values

3: The Model Wars

4: Why Create Autonomous Clients?

5: How to Create Autonomous Clients (this one)


Recommended free guide to dive deeper into coach/client relationships:

Fitness Assessments for New Clients - DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Fitness Assessments for New Clients