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The Fitness Zone

How to Balance your Clients’ NEEDS and WANTS
May 25, 2018

By Nathan Yannakopoulos, Australian Institute of Fitness QLD Fitness Coach

As Personal Trainers we will have a wide range of clients with a variety of goals.  Some will WANT fat loss, hypertrophy, improvements in performance, more energy, the list goes on.  While it is important that the client has a clear WANT, it is vital to also establish what they NEED from an exercise program for optimal health.  Even though the client may not think they NEED a particular exercise, you may see it as important for them in order to correct their posture or improve their functional movement patterns.   It is our job to make it clear to them why they NEED what we are programming and how to implement it seamlessly in their session so that the client is still getting what they WANT.  If a PT does this poorly, and people don’t get what they WANT then they will typically stop paying for that service and think you are not meeting their needs. To keep your clients happy and to be sure you are doing a top-quality job as a trainer here’s 3 tips that you can use in your sessions:

1.  Educate

Your client may not know the benefit of a certain exercise, how correcting posture is important or how activating weak muscles can assist them to reach their goal.  It is your job to tell them, or even better show them! For example, if you have a client wanting to increase muscle mass and doesn’t see the value in warming up properly, then take them through a comprehensive warm up and then get them to lift.  You will show them that they can squat or deadlift more effectively and comfortably, and most likely be able to lift a heavier weight.  This will demonstrate that spending some extra time doing some glute activation or hip mobility allows for an increase in hypertrophic response, which will get them to their goal faster in the long run.  

2.  Divide the session into two parts

This is one that I use all the time, especially for weight loss clients whose intensity can be limited due to them experiencing pain or niggles.   A lot of clients see less intense, corrective exercise as not helping them achieve their goals.  This is where I make the first part of the session revolve around technique correction, proper activation of muscle groups and moving pain free, then I spend the last 25-30 minutes focusing on conditioning through high quality movements at an appropriate intensity.  The outcome is maximum energy expenditure and the client leaving feeling fatigued.  The first part of the session meets the NEEDS of the clients, where the final part is what they WANT!  

3.  Give the client homework

This is usually my last resort but for some clients that can only do 30-minute sessions there is only so much technique work and muscle activation that you can do face to face. This is where you would assign a client certain stretches, activation and mobility techniques to help correct some of their postural issues so that you can spend more time on their body composition goals during their PT sessions.   This works well if your client is accountable and is willing to do work outside of the gym or on their own terms, so it may not work for everyone!

Meeting both the needs and the wants of your clients is the art of PT and takes some time and experience to get right.  Keep trying, as the end result is happy, healthy clients who are achieving their goals and impressed with your service!

This content is not intended to be used as individual health or fitness advice divorced from that imparted by medical, health or fitness professionals. Medical clearance should always be sought before commencing an exercise regime. The Institute and the authors do no take any responsibility for accident or injury caused as a result of this information.

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