In our previous post, I mentioned that we’d be doing a bit of a deep dive into the five principles that Two-Brain Coaching is built on. Yesterday I wrote about the first, ‘Enjoy the Process.’ Today, we talk about:
Principle #2: Learn, Design, Deliver, Refine
When a new client decides that your gym is the place they can receive a solution to their problem, the first step that you must take is to LEARN about them. This seems obvious, but what exactly does that mean? How should you learn about them? We’ve made the word into an acronym to provide guidance on exactly that:
L = Listen
E = Empathize
A = Ask Questions
R = Reflect
N = Next Steps
Listen: the first question you should ask is “what brings you in today?” After that, sit back and be an active listener. If it helps, take notes. Pay particular attention to the pain point(s) he or she lists. For example, if a client says they want to lose 20 pounds, why is that? What will losing 20 pounds do for them? Believe it or not, being a good listener is a tough skill! Most people are simply waiting for their turn to talk. In our industry, we are so passionate and excited to start helping people right then and there that we can launch right into the plan we’ve already formulated for them before they finish their first sentence.
Don’t do that. Listen, and then move onto the next letter:
Empathize: you can do this openly or in your own head, but to empathize simply means putting yourself in the other persons shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. As a coach, it probably feels quite natural to lead a life centered around health and fitness. More often than not, the person sitting in front of you is not coming into the situation with that same lifestyle.
If you want to empathize out loud, do so because you can relate through similar experiences or by sharing a story of someone that you have worked with. These are often emotional exchanges, so be prepared. But it will be worth it, authentic empathy is a big part of building trust. Once you have that, you are looking at a potential client for life!
Ask Questions: up to this point, you’ve done a lot of listening and connecting through shared experience. Now your job turns to asking questions in order to paint as clear of a picture as possible of the person sitting with you. In our online courses, we give recommendations for the exact questions to ask, but they center around a few areas: lifestyle factors, past training history, sleep, stress, affinity towards exercise and nutrition, and of course their true goal(s). Like with most things, the more practice you get with these scenarios, the better you’ll become.
Reflect: by now, you’ve gathered a lot of information. But like we outlined in the first step, sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and leave the client lying in our wake. This point in the conversation should be one of reflection, where you reiterate the big take aways as you see them. Then, you need to ask: did I understand this correctly? If yes, keep going. If no, circle back and ask more clarifying questions.
Next Steps: now is the time to let your confidence shine, just don’t confuse it with arrogance. Your job here is to tell the client what you know is the best possible option to getting them where they want to go. You’ve just had a great conversation, so now you are literally telling them “Ok, so the next steps are XYZ.” (Most will recognize this portion of a consultation as the place where sales are, or are not, made. This isn’t a course on sales. There are plenty of great resources for that.)
The design phase of the process is where you actually write out the clients fitness program. You will start with an assessment of baseline metrics. We recommend the following: weight, body fat percentage, happiness and stress, movement quality and quantity. The results of these form the foundation, the ‘why’, of their program. They inform the what and the how – what are the daily things they will actually be doing. This is not intended to be an exhaustive essay on program design. However, we do cover that in our Third and Fourth Degree courses. For a basic skeleton of how we look at program design, stay tuned for our breakdown of Principle #3 in the next blog!
In the broadest sense, the delivery of a training program can happen in two ways – you can work with a client in person or digitally. From there, more options open up. Let’s look at in person options first:
You can do 1:1 training. This offers tremendous value for both client and coach. From a clients perspective, they have the freedom and flexibility to schedule sessions at their convenience. Do not undervalue the importance of this – TIME is the one thing that nobody can get more of, hence it is often the most important cause for why people decide things the way that they do. 1:1 training also means that the client will receive 100% of your attention for the entire session. Lastly, each session will be designed specifically for the clients goals.
The other option for in person training is small groups. This option has risen tremendously in popularity over the last decade, but the benefits of group training today are the same as when my mom did jazzercise in the 90’s – its fun, effective, and you’re surrounded by a group of like minded people. The community aspect of shared belonging cannot be ignored. As humans, we are not wired to do life on our own but rather in the company of others. Group training often fulfills far more than biological/physical ambitions – the social and psychological benefits are well documented.
The other delivery option is digital. Nowadays, having a coach in the palm of your hand through a cell phone is cheap and easy. Options for delivery of a training program in this fashion are: text, audio, and video. Text can be anything from getting a copy of your program via email, text message, or a website. Audio and video provide more context and connectivity to the coach.
So, how do you decide which option (in person or digital) to prescribe for your client? Your duty is to prescribe the best option for them, whatever that may be.
The last step in this second principle of Two-Brain Coaching is often the most overlooked and/or inconsistent. Most coaches and gyms track client progress through their member management software or an app these days, but that’s not what this is. Its a part of it, but your job as a coach goes much deeper. The process of refining your clients training plan needs daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual check points. Here are some quick breakdowns of each:
Daily: Attendance and logging workout results. Are they showing up and doing the work?
Weekly: how are they feeling? What is their feedback, physically and mentally?
Monthly: how consistent are they with their daily and weekly tasks?
Quarterly: every 90 days, you should be sitting down 1:1 with your client and asking them: “how are things going?” You should remeasure their baseline metrics that you took back in the design phase. Identify their bright spots, the things that they have achieved. Ask: “What do you want to work towards now?” Amend the training plan as needed. Don’t be afraid to say “ok, this isn’t working like we hoped. Here’s what we’re going to do and why:…”
Annual: are they looking to get involved in any sporting events, long runs, obstacle course races, local fitness competitions? Your annual check in should be longer than your quarterly ones. This is where you get a chance to lay out all that you’ve learned over the past year. Bring them into the planning process for their program. It’ll create greater buy in and trust on their part.
Once you’ve entered the ‘refine’ stage of your clients journey, your job has only just begun. Remember, a coach’s job is retention. You achieve that through the value (results) you provide to your client on a daily basis. Follow these guidelines and you are guaranteed to be successful.