Although I have only been in the fitness industry for about two years, it is evident that client needs are constantly evolving. Although client needs are changing, technology and other modalities have become popular to support our clients beyond the session. Currently, trainers, fitness companies, and coaches have access to tools that allow clients to have extra support outside of their time at the gym. Things like apps, online programs, online coaches, and online group classes are in high demand due to their convenience and accessibility (for both client and trainer). Access to these tools provides more service and value to the client.
Let’s take a moment and remember a time when we lacked access to tools like these. How did we support clients outside of their 60-minute sessions? On average, a client sees their trainer around 2x per week, for about 120 minutes per week. Now, let’s look at the bigger picture; on average, we only see our clients for about 2 hours out of the 168 hours there are in a week. During a session, a client can be engaged, focused, and dialled in on their goal, but what they do during the other 166 hours will majorly influence how they progress towards their goal. Making a sustainable change will require more than 2-3 hours of goal-based work!
Behaviour Management Beyond the Session
The behaviour change aspect of working with a client cannot stop once their session is over. For a consistent and positive change in a client’s behaviour, they need to understand the impact of behaviours outside the session on their success. Trainers can significantly impact their clients during their sessions, but how can we sustain a high level of engagement outside the gym without access to tools that provide more significant support beyond the session? Our abilities as trainers to support our clients outside of their sessions can make or break whether they will continue to train and partake in living a healthy lifestyle.
Interested in learning more about the Online Personal Training App? Check out the link below!Trainerize: The Future of Personal Training
When I first began my training career, I didn’t have access to something like the OPT app (The Online Personal Training App is a program management tool that trainers at Fitness World have immediate access to for free). Instead, I had to develop strategies and methods to ensure that a client had support outside of their session. When clients sign up to train with you, they are not just “buying sessions”; they invest in a personalized fitness experience and a program that comes with the full support of someone they can trust. Here are some ways I go beyond my client’s training expectations:
- I set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based) outcome goals AND process goals.
- At some point in each session, I make sure expectations are clear for what I want the client to do outside of the session (giving the client homework).
- I make sure I give my client multiple resources/tools they may need to reach their goals. (Meal-plan printout/exercise program printout).
- Send check-in texts to see how their week is going or follow up on something they are practicing on their own time.
- Stay consistent with my client communication via text or conversing with them when I run into them outside of their session.
- Check their gym usage to see if they are coming in independently.
- Invite them to small group training classes that I am teaching to get more facetime with me in a different setting.
- Collaborate on a time that they will come in to do an independent workout. More specifically, I try to schedule a time when I will be at the gym (this holds the client accountable, especially if they know you are expecting to see them).
- I offer to take a group class with them, which is especially important if they are not used to group training settings/are new to fitness in general. It can also create a sense of community by introducing them to other clients and group class members.
All of these points are things that we should still use to provide clients with support outside of their sessions. As innovation goes, we are fortunate enough to have a way to manage clients more efficiently for us as trainers and user-friendly for our clients. The OPT app (made by Trainerize) allows clients to have full access to every tool they may need to reach their goals. The client has access to their personalized exercise program. The program includes workouts with us and exercises they need to do on their own time, their meal plan, and lifestyle behaviour changes they need to work towards – all of which are accessible from one app on their phone.
The Fitness World Online Personal Training App in Action
For most of my clientele, there are a lot of movement prep exercises to ensure optimal performance during the goal-based workouts that I program. During a PT session, there are only 50 minutes to do a weigh-in (depending on the day/client), check-in with how the client is doing with their habits outside of the sessions, movement prep, exercise, cool down and answer any questions the client may have. If a client’s body needs more time foam roll, stretch, and activate, I will include a movement prep routine on the OPT app for them to use before our session. There is more productive time available during the session, and we can reinforce the habit of coming in early and warming up!
One of my client’s habit-goal pages is here below. This client of mine lives a sedentary lifestyle and has a sweet tooth when it comes to consuming high-calorie drinks; therefore, I added reminders that specifically target those barriers concisely and clearly. He currently trains with me two times a week but has a weight-loss goal of over 30lbs. Since that training frequency is insufficient to get him to his weight-loss plan, I added 3 independent workout days that he has to complete as a part of his program.
Another great thing about the OPT app is that I can see who is doing the homework I give them since I get a notification once they have checked off something (again, super great for client accountability). Once I get the message, it only takes a few seconds to send them some feedback or praise!
By having access to the FWOPT app, we can easily overcome more obstacles. For some clients, the visual representation and ability to consistently interact with their personalized plan make achieving their goal simple.
Continuing along the topic of technology being a valuable tool for clients and coaches, one of the other ways I like to engage with clients outside of their sessions is by linking each other’s Apple Watch together. By doing this, I can see how much they are moving throughout the day. If I am looking at this from a client’s perspective, this is a big way to be held accountable for exercise and movement frequency. Being aware that someone can see what you are up to influences our activity decisions. Another neat feature of the Apple Watch is being able to compete with each other. Competition can be a fun way to keep engaging clients as there is a lot of fun in creating some friendly competition!