Keys to Keeping Clients Excited as Resolutions Fade

Dana Bender
Dana Bender
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All fitness professionals, regardless of their focus within the industry, understand that the new year brings with it an increase in fitness participation. At the start of each new year, motivated individuals sign up for memberships and programs with the desire to kick away unhealthy behaviors and get a fresh start towards a healthier future. Though promising initially, this trend is often short-lived as many individuals struggle to stay motivated and consistent with their New Year's resolution.

For fitness professionals, the critical question becomes: “How can we keep our clients excited and motivated about these goals to stay consistent with their intentions?”  

1. It is Okay to Refine the Resolution

In the
excitement of the New Year, it is straightforward for our clients or ourselves
to set high expectations. While having high expectations is good, they become
unattainable when they are not realistic. As such, fitness professionals should
not shy away from helping their clients recalibrate towards more realistic and
attainable goals.  Asking the following questions
to your client helps: “Was the goal
realistic and attainable? Was it too big? Too small?”

Always
remember: unless a goal is a SMART goal, which stands for specific, measurable,
attainable, realistic, and time-specific, it is easy to lose track of it, which
in turn acts as a hindrance to your client’s path to success. While helping your
clients refine their resolution, make sure to help them simplify their intentions
to one specific behavior, help them define what success looks like for them,
and help them set realistic weekly actions. 

For example,
if a client is trying to change everything about their nutrition, then that is not
specific, attainable, nor realistic. Instead, have your clients focus on one or
two clearly defined actions.  An example
might be to focus only on increasing their hydration level. Once a clear action
has been determined, have them establish a baseline. In this case, it would be
how much water they currently intake each day.

As a next step, have them set a target amount of water that they would like to work towards to make the goal measurable. Ask them about the timeline by which they would like to achieve this goal consistently; create small goals along the way for each week to help them get there. A good rule-of-thumb is to focus on a 10% increase each week to help your clients avoid being overwhelmed and demotivated.

2. Consider Positive Environmental Cues

As time progresses, it is easy for enthusiasm to dwindle. To
prevent this, fitness professionals should help their clients consider specific
environmental cues or triggers that they can put in their home or work
environment to help them stay motivated towards their fitness goals.

For example, they could put positive messages on their fridge or motivational images as their phone background or sign up to receive encouraging emails daily. Ask them - “What cue or trigger would they find helpful and consider placing in their environment?” The client must create this idea themselves versus being told what to do by the fitness professional for it to work on a sustainable basis. Lastly, remind your clients that whatever positive environmental cues they decide on does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a post-it-note by their alarm clock that has the positive phrase, “You got this!”

3. Celebrate Success Along the Way

One thing that I find a lot of clients struggle with is
celebrating their success along the way. It is easy to get caught up in the
mindset - “What can I do better?” or “I am not doing enough” or
comparing themselves to others who might be on a different path. Help your
clients focus on celebrating success along the way instead of comparing,
judging, or concentrate on doing more. 
Ask them questions that focus on their success from the week.

For example, “What went well this week? What actions did you take this week that make you proud?" It could be that they did not snooze the alarm one day of the week and made it to the gym. Celebrate that successful morning workout with your client so that it helps build and motivate their positive behavior as they progress towards their goals. That "feel good" feeling of celebrating that day might be what your client needs to go from one day to two days!

4. Rapport, Rapport, Rapport

Whether you work with a client directly or have clientele
you interact with regularly, having a strong rapport with them helps increase
inspiration, especially when resolution energy starts to dwindle. Ask questions
to these individuals to get them talking about their goals. Ask open-ended
questions that elicit behavior change talk or help them open-up about their
intentions. The more they vocalize their plans and share with others, the more
likely they are to stay committed to their goals. Do not shy away from asking
them questions such as “What actions did they take this week towards their
goals? In what ways are they planning on continuing their efforts? How do they
plan to refine their goals for even better outcomes?”

As you go about solidifying this rapport with your client,
help them realize and normalize that behavior change is not linear. There will
be natural ebbs and flows in the journey towards one’s goals. If they have not
been on par or have fallen off the track towards their goal, help them realize
that it is okay and ask, “What will they do to get back on track?” Additionally,
it is equally important to ask, “What did they learn from falling off track?”
Lastly, ask your clients, “Could they use this learning to change up their
approach as they progress towards their goal today or this week?”
Remember,
it is essential to uplift and not chastise our clients when they struggle.
Remind them that failures are great teachers; what they learn from missteps
could very well be the "aha" moment they need for consistent
behavioral change. 

Overall, there are various reasons for their motivation to dwindle. As fitness professionals, we may or may not be able to help every client or member stay motivated. However, the critical tactics outlined above could help some individuals remain committed towards their goals even after the New Year's resolution energy wears off. Change is not linear. Sometimes all it takes to keep your client motivated is that small extra step. It is helping them refine their goals, assisting them in incorporating more positive environmental support, celebrating their wins big or small, and continuing to solidify strong rapport with them.

The Author

Dana Bender

Dana Bender

Dana Bender, MS, ACSM, CWWS, E-RYT. Dana Bender works as a fitness and wellness Program Manager for Health Fitness Corporation in downtown Chicago. Dana is also a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, an adjunct professor with Rowan University, and an E-RYT 200 hour Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher.