Ever wonder what it feels like to be a "rogue" trainer on the outside of mainstream, extreme, "quick and easy fix", aesthetics driven fitness?
You would think that an international band of trainers who are working to help people accept themselves where they are at and then work toward better overall health while looking out for mental and emotional fitness is something that would be in demand.
Unfortunately, the majority of the population is still so indoctrinated to believe that our bodies' relationship with gravity is a factor that holds more "weight" than any other mental, emotional or physical health metric.
I have news for you- weight is not really all that important, not in the grand scheme of things, and ESPECIALLY not when we find ourselves sacrificing our mental, physical and emotional health to reach a certain number on the scale.
There are a lot of trainers, fitness professional and health professionals out there who agree with me. We are all in a group together on facebook and have open dialogues daily about how to shift what the world views as "fit" so that fitness returns to its original mission of FULL HEALTH.
I want to share a conversation we had last week about how it feels when a client doesn't think we're doing a "good job" because the general public is too indoctrinated by the diet and fitness industry. The majority of the population believes that their primary "fitness" goal should be to see the number on the scale go down and that it should happen at a too-rapid-to-be-healthy-or-sustainable pace.
These trainers are all a #partofthesolution. Remember, we're the good guys, looking out for you and your health on every level.
Jarlath Hynes, Grassroots Fitness:
It is VERY hard not to take it personally when a client looks at you patronizingly & tells you "but I read that blah,blah, blah is the magic solution..." or "my friend in the quick-fix, transformation gym has lost xlbs by eating/drinking/avoiding certain product", why don't you know this stuff?"
And interestingly, I have had clients drop off & return, maybe deep down everyone knows the real solutions but can't help being tempted by the latest 'fad'.
Cyndi Springford, Founder of Love Your Body Project Coaching and Consulting:
I ask them WHY they want to lose weight. If they say it's to "be healthy", I continue asking questions like "what do you think healthy is? How do you think your weight is holding you back? What do you imagine will be different about your life when you lose weight and you have the body that you want?"
I want to help them be the happiest, healthiest and best possible version of themselves...and that may be able to happen WITHOUT THEM LOSING A SINGLE POUND.... I am at the stage of my career where I am willing to let go of a client if I have to. I don't take it personally anymore. It just means they want something I no longer provide. I can live with that.
Lana Simmons, co-founder of The L and producer of of The L Podcast:
And you know its going to be more pain for them until they are ready to let dieting/quick fix go.
Michele Tolman, Moxie Personal Fitness:
When people see my before/after they get all excited like I found the magic pill. Then when I say it took three years to lose 115 lbs. They get disappointed.
Jennifer Campbell, Mama Lion Strong:
Yep. It's so depressing.
Bri Battles, MS, CSCS:
It's like getting dumped...I try not to act like I'm desperate for them to stay, but at the same time, they really don't know what they're losing and I want them to see the light! Haha! I really do just try to shift the focus to the people who have bought in, and let that speak volumes for me.
Katie Feeley, Strength Coach, ACE-CPT:
I'm currently working with a few people who have included aesthetic targets in their goals. The reality is that it takes so much time to see results. I try to tell people, "Look at me. Look at this body. 5 years. And I'm still working on it." Sometimes I'm more muscular, sometimes less. Sometimes I'm heavier, sometimes lighter. But building the physique you want (or think you want) takes time, tweaking, more time, more tweaking.
I find this particularly difficult with my smaller women because they want fast results! The smaller you are, the harder it is to make changes - loss takes longer and lean gains take longer. And getting people to see the small things can be helpful along the way - clothes fitting differently, feeling stronger, more energy, etc. But it's so hard. And when people don't see the results they expect, rather than make tweaks (required for long term), they want to quit.
Sean Flanagan, Sean Flanagan Fitness and Nutrition:
I think many times they come to me because they like the IDEA of doing things the right way, but really still want the "fast" way.
So really what we need to do if we want our clients to realize we are NOT nuts and we DO care for their health, is figure out a way to undermine this:
How do we sell reasonability, sell FULL health... and really drive home the importance of health metrics much further beyond our bodies' relationships with gravity?
Bryan Wither, trainer:
It's a hard thing to sell. What's worked fairly well for my business is cutting at flashy pseudoscience gimmicks. It's hard to be so constantly negative though.
Michele Burmaster, Surf City Fit Club:
It's a sad state of affairs when shifting the goal from weight lost on the scale in a short period of time to "let's get healthy and strong" is "being negative". Does it then make US the negative ones, the bearers of bad news when we have to burst the magic diet bubble (and truly doing our clients more service than trying to sell them a magic diet)?
I do end up coming across as a stick in the mud sometimes. But I have my integrity.
How do we initiate the first contact WITHOUT 6-day- weightloss promises,'fitspo' pics, etc etc? This is quite challenging. It's easy to end up constantly being 'negative' dismissing the bad stuff rather then promoting positive messages.
Matthew Beals, NSCA, CPT, OKC North:
Maybe make your case and then let it go. I feel my job is to give people work appropriate to their situation, and I can still do that even if somebody is on a stupid diet. So I'd rather play the supportive one and have one more chance to steer them in a better direction.
Annie Brees, Strong Brees:
I have clients who feel better/stronger and believe they are doing all the right things, and the scale is going down at a moderate and healthy pace. But it's just not fast enough for them sometimes.
I feel on the border of losing some clients sometimes because... I will teach them habits, I will teach them scientific fact, I will answer their "does xyz work or is it a myth" question with evidence, with studies, I will tell them exactly what to do to build good habits, I will exhaustively explain to them a calorie deficit, I will teach them about body recomp.
But since I won't give them a meal plan (designed for effectiveness in .001% of the population, setting them up for failure).... they think I'm failing them.
You just have to trust that if you keep being a good coach and encourage your clients, they will see the light eventually. They might leave and come back, but they'll figure it out. I feel like some trainers just don't care, so they sell the client whatever they want (or make something up) because they can... regardless of what these clients decide to do, you can feel good that you maintained your integrity and did the best you could by them.
I've been told by a few people in my group that they're happy that I'm not selling them the quick fix, like a lot of other trainers are (with their f***ing pyramid scheme shakes and powders and and and....).
But the ones that join and expect to miraculously become skinny in a week or stronger because of one class, well those people quit pretty quick. And guess what, they go to the trainer who sells them on more than just fitness. "Welcome, but these shakes. Sell these shakes. Oh, and here's some fitness too."
Debbie Hatch, Family & F.I.T.:
To TRY to sell reasonability, I talk to clients about all of the quick fixes they've already tried. Did any of them work? Did any of them do anything for you except spend your money? None of those worked before - what makes you think they would work now?
Danielle Lohmann, Lifestyle U:
I figure the right people will find their way to me. I don't promote my own body. I promote my skill and my beliefs. I take food pics but of ALL the food. I shout out triumph of my clients. My clients also boast on their Facebook pages about OUR training methods and heathy habits they've learned with me.
I think the people that want quick fixes will find the "predators"
I've definitely lost fitness students because they aren't patient and want a quick fix. I speak out against the quick fix diets and have definitely lost students because of my straight-forward nature. But I have to be true to what I believe in. I focus on health and happiness, not six-pack abs. Does it hurt my business? Maybe. Does it help my business? Maybe!!
Carolyn Gibson Channell, Fabulous Fitness:
The first thing I do is ask them about previous times they lost weight and the methods they used. I ask them how sustainable that was and how long they think they could maintain the results this time if they used those same methods.
Then I ask them how willing they are to totally change their lifestyle starting today, just change everything in one day, do what I say, eat what I eat, live like I live (or like the girl in the photo they say they want to be like)...basically are you willing to change who you are and what you do and how you think to just BE that other image.
No? Oh. Okay. How about you keep doing what makes your life awesome and you just learn a couple tools to enhance the awesome that you feel?
I'd love to be the size that I was in some of my smaller photos, but the reality was I was not building myself up, I was tearing myself down.
Be MORE, not LESS. Applies to habit change as well. MORE veggies, MORE lean protein, MORE weight on the bar, MORE steps per day.
Not "no this" "none of that" "less of this". etc
Matthew Glynn, Peak Fitness:
Plenty of clients who I feel like I need to convince over and over again that 1200 calories is not enough for their daily run / aerobic training PLUS resistance training.
On top of that, actually trying to obtain new clients while promoting sustainability? Tough. Well worth it, but tough. Each time I'm upfront with a client regarding how we do things, we either lose them then and there or keep them for a very long time.
Make reasonability the social norm and move body weight away from self worth.
^THAT is certainly our Big Picture Goal at the Body Positive Fitness Alliance. Does it sound good to you? It might feel impossible today, but look at this above group of trainers, they're working day in and out to make that a reality. Will you join us?