Thursday, April 26, 2012

When Clients Blame the Trainer

Clients can be a funny bunch of people to satisfy. In this age of speedy service, speedy results, and entitlement, it is pretty easy to find a client that simply does not understand that they may be "partially" to blame for their lack of results. Now I use the term "partially" loosely because we know that in order for a person to reach a long-term goal successfully, it takes a major commitment and lifestyle change. 

Trainers are in the business of facilitating change. We harvest the necessary seeds for germination in people looking to transform their bodies. In order to do this, we must provide the tools to elicit behavior modification, self-perception, and education. One of the main tools that we use in this process is exercise. The main thing to remember as a trainer, is you are coaching someone through a journey of transformation. It doesn't matter if you train athletes or is the process of betterment that you specialize in. 

Every now and then, there is a client that is accusatory and tends to blame their trainer for failed results. There are people in our society that favor protecting their own bad behaviors by placing blame on others. Take a doctor, for instance. Doctors are in a position in society that they can either perform miracles or cause the greatest harm. Outside of speculation, many doctors perform to their best of the ability, however, to some patients, it falls below their expectations. 

In personal training, many clients see TV shows such as "Biggest Loser" and believe that the process of losing 40-60 pounds is achieved within an hour to a few weeks. The perception is that the process is quick and short in duration; albeit,  these TV shows are edited and results vary per individual. So what really takes several months to achieve is actually squeezed into a 8-episode TV season. 

When someone pays for a product, the expectation is to receive the product. However, personal training is a service that allows one to gain the product provided that they understand it is a conjoined effort. When clients  place expectations on the trainer, they are removing their responsibility from reaching the goal. They are positioning themselves away from self-failure and disappointment. Instead,  they are reluctant to take responsibility for the journey into transformation. 

What happens when your client blames you for not losing any weight? Do you crunch up into a ball of anxiety? Do you get uncomfortable at the challenge? What happens when you turn the tables and place the expectations on your clients? Here's a video with my take on it: 

I believe placing expectations on your clients adds value to your services. It creates a "velvet rope" around your business. It makes clients believe that if they oblige by your standards, they will reap the results that they have been missing out on. If you can get your clients to believe in the process, half the battle is already won.

Here are some expectations that I personally discuss with new incoming clients. Please note that I am professional and cordial when discussing these with my potential clients. I do want their business; but at the same time I want to establish a "partnership" and  a mutual respect.

Expectation #1: Be on time for all sessions.
Expectation #2: Be prepared to discuss dietary habits every session.
Expectation #3: Try your best to meet weekly weight goals.
Expectation #4: A missed session is a missed opportunity to cause change in your life.
Expectation #5: Always work hard. We will take breaks and rest when needed.

What happens if these expectations are not met? Well, repeat offenders are eventually let go, but they typically drop out because of failed commitment to the program. My intent is to keep clients operating above 90% adherence. There's some room in there for flexibility. 


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