I have been a Personal Trainer for some time now and I have had plenty of face to face time with a lot of different people. I've had countless conversations about many different topics and I've learnt a lot about people and about myself. Over the years I've had to learn how to listen, how to be patient and how to ask a lot of questions and I understand that not all people are motivated the same way. Once you peel back the layers there are similarities with most people, however it would be naive to believe that when someone asks for your help that they are wanting what they are asking for. Personal Trainers often want what we think is the best for people. That is for everyone to live happy, healthy lifestyles consisting of regular exercise and healthy eating habits and when someone tells us that they want to lose weight we could be quick to assume that they are ready and are committed to doing so. Without asking the right questions and clearly identifying a person's priorities and expectations both Trainer and client can be left feeling disappointed and frustrated when things don't go to plan.
It takes time to develop into a great coach. Emotional awareness, communication, leadership and coaching skills all require practice, implementation and experience and I have greatly improved since my early days. I'm still learning, and it would be naive of me to think that I've learnt everything there is to know because I haven't, and I don't expect I ever will. However, I have learnt that people need to make their own decisions and to ensure they are set up on the right path they need to clearly identify and clarify what their priorities and expectations are and should try to do so before they start their journey. Quite often people will say they 'want' something, however when it really comes down to it, that 'want' is not necessarily the top priority in their life at that point in time and if a Trainer goes in with a 'results focused' mindset it could end in conflict.
It's not uncommon for a Trainer to feel like they want their client to achieve their result more than the client wants it for themselves. Often this 'results focused' mindset driving them is just pure passion and a desire to help, but it may not be what the client is really wanting or needing, and the misunderstanding may be a result of not asking the right questions to identify the client's priorities and expectations. My role as aTtrainer is help people but they must give me their approval to do so. I can guide people in the right direction, provide them with the tools and knowledge to achieve what they say they 'want', but ultimately a client's results will only happen if they are ready, either way I must adapt my behaviour to meet their needs. Sometimes people don't really know what they want until you start asking the right questions, however it's important that the client is honest about their priorities and expectations as being in denial of these will only lead to frustration on both sides.
When I think of people and priorities it makes me think of American researcher Dr John Demartini. Demartini talks a lot about living by your highest values/priorities and identifying the difference between motivation versus inspiration. He says that 'People who live by their highest values/priorities are most resilient and adaptable to pain and pleasure. When you go down the list to lower values/priorities, you can become less inspired, less full-filled and you will only do them if it's pleasurable and most likely in the end give up'. He says that the difference between inspiration and motivation is that 'People who are inspired from within (internal) are living by their highest values/priorities and people who need 'motivation' (which is external) are living by their lowest values/priorities and they need constant motivation and incentives to keep them going. He says, 'What inspires you from within, transcends motivation', and 'The key is to do the things that are highest priority'.
If we peel back the layers of all the different personalities that I've worked with over the years and try to simplify it, I believe there are two distinct people; those that want a 'Result' and those who want/need an 'Experience'. And a little emotional awareness would suggest that asking the right questions early on to identify priorities and expectations will ultimately help you to understand which person you are or which you are trying to coach.
So… what's the difference?
Those that want a result.
Those that want a result are clearly focused on achieving what they say they 'want' to achieve. They are prepared to make daily sacrifices and as Dr John Demartini says, 'Embrace pain and pleasure in pursuit of a greater purpose'. These people will do exactly what they need to do to get what they want regardless of external pressures and they will be consistent in doing so. Whether it be, filling in their food diary every day, eating the right amount of food, doing the agreed amount of exercise, reducing alcohol intake, putting in any additional sessions to burn off extra calories, making the best nutritional choices or saying no to destructive habits that are not conducive to their goals. These people might be seen by those who are less focused to be more 'motivated', but really, they are just 'inspired' from within and all they needed was the right knowledge, tools and/or environment to achieve their success. Their actions are just a reflection of the 'inspiration' that is driving them from within and is a result of living by their highest values/priorities. They might not be perfect with everything, but they are less likely to be emotionally affected in a negative way by internal or external pressures.
On the other hand, there are those that still need help, but often in a different way.
Those that want/need an experience.
There's a clear difference between 'Results' and 'Experience' and that's ok. In no way does it mean that the goals of those looking for an 'experience' are less important compared to those who want a 'result'. It just means that their priorities may be different and in fact those wanting an experience may actually need more TLC as they might be the ones who are more likely to struggle from internal and/or external pressures and suffer mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. In this case there needs to be clarity and honesty around priorities, expectations and what one is willing to do or not do to achieve the desired outcome. The pressure of the 'results focused' mindset may only add stress to the pressures one might be facing internally or externally on a day to day basis and in order to start improving their life all that one might need is a positive environment and 'experience' to set them on the right path. It's not uncommon for those who want an 'experience' to progress to a 'result', they just need to be ready to do so. However, if someone says that they 'want' to lose weight, yet they are not willing to record their food intake, do their training, guzzling down the booze on the weekend, blaming others for their poor habits or making constant excuses then it would suggest that they are just not ready to make the necessary changes to achieve exactly what they say they 'want' to achieve. They might like the idea of losing weight but really their actions suggest that it might not be a top priority for them at that point in time and you know what? That's ok, but it needs to be clarified. If they are making smaller positive changes in order to improve and they are being provided with a positive environment to make improvements without judgment, then it could set them on the path to progress to a 'result'.
There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of things going on, some worse than others but the idea or fear of failing can be extremely overwhelming for some. For those that feel this way it's often easier, in their mind, to turn away and hide rather than turn up and face any issues they may be dealing with, especially if priorities and expectations haven't been clarified. But having an honest, open conversation without judgment about priorities and expectations could be the solution to so many issues. Just turning up to a PT session or Group Class might be the only positive experience one might have for that day so it's important for both Trainer and client to clearly communicate and work together to understand the mindset and needs of that client. Or if you are the client then you need to understand and clarify your priorities and expectations, so your Trainer understands exactly what your priorities, needs and wants are.
People will go through phases in life where priorities, sacrifices, wants and needs change and one might float between results and experience depending on what their priorities are at the time and that's completely fine. The most important thing and best outcome is clarity, honesty and understanding between Trainer and client so they can confidently work together to achieve the desired outcomes based on the priorities of the client at that point in time. It will result in a positive experience for everyone involved. So be honest and enjoy the process.
Need help? At Vision Personal Training Camberwell, we provide you with the support, knowledge and tools to ensure your success. We empower you to take control of your life so you can achieve and maintain amazing results long-term. Contact us today to start the beginning of your new life.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.