Which Pillar of the SEMM Model Should I Prioritize for My Client?

If you want to have a long lasting career as a fitness coach, you need to spend time understanding how to get started using the SEMM model with your clients. You’ll be more effective and resilient as a coach. If another pandemic shuts gyms down for extended periods of time, you won’t become the next victim by virtue that you’re a one trick pony – simply cueing movement – a spot many coaches found themselves in during 2020.

Once you’ve gotten your feet under you with these four lifestyle guidelines, the common question is “Which pillar should I prioritize for my client?” Well, like with so many things, it depends. And context matters.

First, you need to discover/assess where your clients are in each pillar. Then, its helpful to bring them into the process of defining what a 10/10 looks like for them. Now this is important, while their 10/10 is probably going to look different than our true ideal of a 10/10, we have to meet the client where they are and work from there. If you do this right, you’ll have plenty of time to show them that what they thought was a 10/10 was really closer to a 3/10. This is a good thing!

After you’ve assessed each pillar, look for low-hanging fruit. While it can seem appetizing to take that 8/10 to a 9 or 10/10, much greater overall impact will be felt by taking a 2 to a 3. As the saying goes: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

There are of course some other considerations:

  • Does your client have the bandwidth to make the change you are suggesting? For instance, even though a bed time that is 1 hour earlier may seem fairly reasonable, they may simply not be able to do that because of kids, job duties, etc. In this case, move on to another opportunity.
  • Is your client bought into the process or are they just looking to do something they think will please you? This is a recipe for failure. They need to own what they choose to do and do it because it is for them and nobody else. Extrinsic motivation may work for a short term, but intrinsic motivation is long lasting.
  • Is it sustainable? The clearest picture that I can draw for this one is in the nutrition realm – fad diets and extreme measures may work, in the short term. Heck, they may last for a while. But the question you have to always bring it back to is: Can you sustain this for the rest of your life? If not, why would you pursue unsustainable behaviors?

Lastly, and this may seem harsh, but it is your duty not to allow your clients to neglect any of the pillars. “I don’t need help with that” or “I’m not interested in talking about my [insert random pillar here]” are cover-ups for “I’m not really interested in making sustainable change” or “I will be a difficult client.” Spend time talking with them, ask questions, and don’t take their answers at face value.

You are there to build a relationship, not process a transaction.

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