Do you ever wish your clients would just do the things you ask them to do? It’s certainly a frustrating part of the job, no matter how much you get along with your client and like working with them. Every once in a while you just hit a wall and it feels like there isn’t much compliance.
In this industry it’s so easy to get caught up on growing ourselves and our business that it’s easy to lose sight of what it really takes to be successful in this industry — and that’s getting results for your clients. Yes, writing programming matters, as does a discipline in your own fitness journey, but neither of these are more important than helping your clients be successful. This is, in fact, the root of your business.
Building a successful client list is all about meeting them where they’re at. Ideally, you should be multiple years and experiences ahead of your clients are in their journey, but it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer on your own journey. It just means you should be prepared to help them wherever they’re currently at. In order to do that, you need them to listen to you and follow your lead. Here are five ways to improve compliance with your clients.
Make Them a Part of the Process
Whether you’re in person or online, you have a specific plan in your head and probably a template you’re following when you do their programming. However, your client might get caught wondering why you’re doing these types of squats when their friend is doing something totally different. They may not understand why you’re assigning them certain things and thus don’t feel invested enough to listen to you.
Give them the information they need to understand their program, and don’t just say you’re doing them because they’re good for building functional strength, but rather apply it to their goals. One of the greatest skills a coach should develop or have is the ability to contextualize their program or information into a way that matches your clients’ goals.
Here’s a trick: write out a reason why you would do a certain movement for a client and how it helps for three different types of people. Below is an example.
Fat loss: why would one of your fat-loss clients do squats?
Hypertrophy: why do your hypertrophy clients do squats?
Sports performance: why do you have your athletes squat?
Look at each answer and asses if it sells you on why you should be doing it. Do you think it’s a good sell? Every single moment, email, text message, and interaction you have with your client is a sales opportunity. You may not be asking for the sale right then and there but everything you are doing affects the decision to buy or rebuy every time your client has the option.
Set Smaller Goals For Them
Yes, of course, giving up all the amazing but unhealthy foods and eating nothing but tilapia, spinach, and brown rice may sound like your dream diet, but for the majority of your clients, it’s closer to their worst nightmare. They can’t imagine a world without their beloved chocolate treat each night or Sunday funday brunch — and don’t forget about wine night on Mondays and probably a group happy hour on Thursday.
Success drives success and you already know that having experienced it yourself in your fitness journey and your career. So if you have a client who has a hard time making some lifestyle adjustments, start setting up easier goals. Once that person feels the rush of gratitude and happiness from completing something successfully, they will want to do it again. This person probably hasn’t set out on a personal mission to achieve a goal for themselves in a long time, and that’s how they ended up working with you in the first place. Because if they were doing things on their own, they wouldn’t be here. Setting more realistic goals can be as simple as drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning before you drink coffee, going on one 10-minute walk during the day, or even getting two pieces of pizza at lunch instead of 3. Goals should be attainable, achievable, and measurable.
Learn Why They’re There
Sure, Grandma Betty showed up on in your schedule to get stronger, but do you know why she wants to get stronger? Behind each goal is an emotional connection to the feeling or the imagined feeling of what will happen when you reach that goal. Grandma Betty wants to get stronger because she watched her best friend fall and break her hip, she senses her balance has been getting worse, and it’s getting more and more difficult to play with her grandkids, which is the absolute highlight of her week. So getting stronger isn’t about deadlifting or squatting big weight, but what getting stronger will do for her life, her balance, and her ability to play with her family the way she wants to. Not only will truly understanding your clients’ “why” help you develop a stronger relationship with your client, but it will help give you the tools necessary to help steer them on the right path when things get tough.
Ask Them For Feedback
When you check in with them, ask how they are liking the program, get their feedback on how they are feeling. Bulgarian split squats might be a great exercise and it might be the best movement choice for your clients’ goals, but if it’s creating a mental block or resistance to the point that your client isn’t working with the same ferocity they normally do, it’s simply not worth it.
Use their feedback to switch it up because there isn’t one specific exercise out there that’s so beneficial that you should do it no matter what (notice we said exercise, not pattern). If someone doesn’t like to barbell back squat, there are plenty of other ways to get squats in. Also, you should note that there is a difference between a client not liking an exercise because it’s hard, and not doing an exercise because they don’t feel safe or it’s causing them more pain. If they simply don’t like it because they’re whining versus a real concern that causes them to dislike it, you’ll know the difference.
Share Who You Are With Them
Your client probably thinks a lot of this stuff comes so easy to you — workout regularly, drink tons of water, eat lots of vegetables and minimal sugar — when in reality, you were just like they were five years ago. Letting your clients know that you have walked in their shoes, or even helped someone else who is similar to their situation walk in their shoes, can help provide the necessary context and establish trust. Let your clients know that their journey isn’t going to be impossible, which is what they probably feel. It’s been done before — and you can help them get there.
Look at it this way. If you were going to climb Mt. Everest, would you rather be guided up with the sherpa who lives on Everest and does this journey all the time, or the one who has a map but has never taken the trip themselves? Yes, that’s a bit silly and extreme, but you get the idea.
The Final Word
At the end of the day you can be the most shredded trainer in the room or the most educated coach ever, but if your clients don’t get results, none of it matters. You can be the best programmer in the world, but if your clients don’t comply, it doesn’t matter and they won’t get results. Then they won’t keep doing business with you or referring you to other people. We have to stop getting in our own way and make sure that we are helping our clients go along their path. We are merely a guide.