The best coaches in the world know that some sessions are better spent on education than exercise.
This goes against the grain of the status quo for many fitness professionals because coaches get hired to help their clients exercise, right?
Fitness professionals get hired because their clients believe they can help them solve a problem they can’t solve on their own, and there’s no faster way to help your clients achieve their goals than by giving them the gift of self-efficacy.
Deep down, we all know this. We know that achieving health and fitness goals requires more than a few hours of work in the gym each week.
It requires a lifestyle that supports the results they’re looking for, which is where education comes into the equation. When we work with clients online or in person at our flagship location, we start with education. In fact, you could say education is our primary product, and exercise is the tool we use to make it stick.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
Let’s say Kathy comes in and wants to work with us. She’s 20 lbs overweight, and that’s abnormal for her. She’s in her early 50s, and a few years ago, she was in a car accident and suffered a hip injury. Although she attended physical therapy, which helped her regain her ability to do normal everyday tasks, she hasn’t been able to get back to exercise. Now she’s been leading a sedentary lifestyle, and for the first time in her life, she is overweight and has lost confidence in her body.
She’s frustrated about why she’s still in pain and feels hopeless because every gym she’s gone to said they could help her, but they didn’t.
Kathy’s first few sessions would be focused on education, not exercise.
She’s confused about why her body feels the way it does, despite following all the instructions from the doctors and physical therapists.
One of the first educational pieces we would cover with her is “Load vs. Capacity,” which explains why injuries happen and the most likely reasons she’s still in pain despite the damaged tissues having healed years ago.
The next educational piece would be the ”Hierarchy of Needs,” which explains the necessary ingredients for someone to get out of pain and perform at their desired level. The hierarchy of needs also ties together her current experience in her body with her future exercise program.
This foundation helps Kathy, and any other client, clearly understand why we’re doing the things we’re doing and how they apply to her goals.
The result is consistency, and as we all know, consistency is key, but the education doesn’t stop there. It continues to be the foundation for many sessions to follow, except in smaller chunks as the Active Life Professional sees fit.
Let’s say Kathy comes in, and her Professional sees something is off and asks if she’s doing ok. Kathy responds that she just found out her teenage daughter has been out drinking with older guys on the weekend, and she’s really stressed and worried, so her head isn’t in the gym today.
What’s the best course of action?
Should the professional shrug it off and get on with the workout or do something else?
Maybe play pseudo-therapist?
The professional needs to stay within their scope AND support Kathy, which could look something like this:
“Kathy, it sounds like you have a lot going on. We had this lower body workout programmed for today, but I believe it would be more valuable for us to discuss some stress management strategies to help you through this stressful time. How would you feel about going over some of those; then we’ll get into your workout with the remaining time?”
“I think that would be great, thank you.”
“Perfect, let’s walk around the block to clear our heads, and then we’ll get started.”
Effective education is all about meeting people where they are and giving them the tools they need to get to the next milestone along their journey. The clients who get the education they need consistently get better results than the ones who don’t.