When I first began personal training in 2000, I focused all of my energy in educating and empowering my clients. I made sure they knew proper form inside and out, I progressed their workouts slightly every session and talked with them about the latest research from exercise science. I had lovely clients, but nothing like the connections I have now.
I am still a stickler for form and share applicable research, but these days my personal training sessions are mostly spent talking to clients about their lives: their kids, their partners, their goals, their fears. My nutritional coaching sessions are spent talking about their barriers to making the choices they “should” make and helping them either overcome the barrier or overcome the “should.” They get a great workout and solid nutritional information, but the service I really provide is support. I give them the space to grow, fail, try again, step back, reassess, get stronger, push harder and redefine their self image.
Many of my clients list “lose weight” at the top of their goal sheet. And sometimes that’s a simple and attainable goal. But most of the time it isn’t. And sometimes they don’t actually really want to lose weight. They want to be stronger, have more energy, sleep better, have a more fulfilling sex life, manage their stress and feel in control of their food choices. That can all be done without dropping weight. Or the weight loss becomes a nice side effect. It’s about listening to what they’re really asking for and helping shine the light on their path. It’s about support. That’s my main service. And I suspect it’s the service that many of us are looking for when we enlist the help of a professional for health improvement.
If you’re thinking about reaching out to a health improvement professional, take a moment to clarify what your goals really are. Then set up a call with the person you’re considering hiring and see if they offer what you need.