How I use coaching to support my clients
I was asked by Jane Biggin to share how I use coaching to support my clients.
It all starts with the initial consultation, during which I would ask key questions such as:
- What is your main goal?
- What are you doing about it right now?
- How do you feel about yourself?
- How do you think you will feel when you have achieved your goals?
- What does your current diet look like?
Depending on their answers I would ask more questions until I get to the core reasons of why they want to make changes.
The next step is to assess and measure the individual’s fitness levels, body composition and imbalances. We all have muscle imbalances and weaknesses and the assessment would highlight those and very often they need addressing first.
At this point it gets a bit tricky, considering the fact that the client has a clear goal and sometimes the imbalances get in the way of achieving them. I always make it very clear how important it is to address these issues first, otherwise my clients would run the risk of attainment an injury. Every client of mine has been pretty happy with this approach so far and they actually welcome it.
I then would ask them to take frontal and side pictures of themselves in light clothing in their own time. Sometimes taking measurements and assessments is not a motivator for some people but having a visual reference is.
The next step is to set SMART(specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, timed) short term(12weeks), mid term(6months) and long term(1year) goals. At times this can be an eye opener for some who might have unrealistic expectations. For example when it comes to weight loss, I ask how long it took them to put the weight on, which in most cases is a few years. My response to that would be: “We can’t undo something in weeks that took you years to attain”. This is just one way of me explaining the process and to eliminate any misconceptions.
Before designing the fitness regime I address the sensitive subject of food! From my experience people are more likely to start exercising than changing their eating habits. Luckily there are many different approaches I can offer and with small changes one can get great results. My job is to figure out which methods the individual would be able to cope with and sustain. For this I would ask another set of key questions such as:
- Do you think of food a lot?
- How are you with portion control?
- Do you eat when you are feeling low?
- Do you snack a lot?
- How much water do you drink?
- How many sugary drinks do you have?
- How much caffeine do you consume?
- How many meals a day do you have?
- Can you describe the food you have on a typical day?
The answers to those questions would give me enough information to offer a solution for my client. I would then explain which adjustments to their diet are necessary and suitable. Furthermore, I would also ask them if they like the idea and if this would be something they could do.
It is very important to me that my clients have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and that they are happy with the suggested approaches.
After designing the fitness regime and food plan the next step would be to integrate them with my client’s schedule. Things to consider are:
- When my client would have time to eat,
- where they are during meal times,
- when they have time to exercise and
- when they should have their rest days.
Now we would be ready to commence with the first Personal Training session, for which I use a calculated trial and error approach. Most of the time my clients haven’t preformed or practiced certain exercises. My job would be to demonstrate them, give teaching points, name the muscle groups used, explain why I selected the exercises, choose the correct resistance and guide the client to executing them correctly and safely.
When the client performs an exercise, I would observe their technique, their confidence and ask for feedback. It is very important the client is happy with the exercises, and when they are not I suggest alternatives. With over 11 years of experience I tend to find the right balance of exercises and intensity level for my clients.
Every program I design is progressive, lasts 12 weeks and I judge when to increase the level of intensity during each session. The trick is to progress slowly otherwise they might plateau. Normally I don’t tell my clients until the end of the session that they in fact lifted more weights or did more repetitions, which surprises, motivate them and leaves them with a sense of achievement.
I also ask my clients to keep a food diary, which they present to me weekly. After reading it I point out the positives, encourage them to keep going and make suggestions on how to overcome any obstacles they might have.
If I suspect my client isn’t sticking to the plan, although rare, I assess them sooner. This will help us make some adjustments, iron out any uncertainties and consider different approaches.
When a client has completed their first 12week program, I re-assess them. We then sit together, compare the results and see if they have reached their first set of goals. Most of the time my clients would have at least succeeded and often excelled. Followed by their results, I start the process of goal setting and designing a new relevant fitness and food plan.
Over the next few weeks, months and years a client’s goals, lifestyle and situation will change. As things change so will their program and food plan, which I always adjust to suit the client, encouraging and helping them to succeed.
Thank you for reading and please let me know if you have any suggestions of how I can improve my coaching skills.