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3 ways to spot when PT clients are lying…

04/12/2018

This post is mainly aimed at personal trainers who are struggling to get results with their clients, although clients can learn from this post too 

Embarrassing Story…

When I first started LEP Fitness (just over 6 years ago!) I remember one experience that really scarred me at the time…

I only had a couple of clients back then and i was super keen to impress so that I could grow my business…

I was training this guy (let’s call him James) and I designed him a really thorough nutritional plan. In fact I remember it taking me at least 3 hours to design – I really tried my best!

I took a before picture and then 12 weeks later took the after picture…

BUT THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE TO THIS CLIENTS BODY!

In fact, it was exactly the same! I had to double check that I hadn’t used the same picture as 12 weeks ago! lol. Luckily he had different tracksuit pants on!

I was mortified! 

Ok, I guess you could say how did I not notice along the way? especially if I was seeing this client on a weekly basis for 12 weeks?

But back then it was winter and I did all of my sessions outside, therefore clients wore hoodies and baggy tops, it was difficult to assess body composition. 

As I was new to personal training I also didn’t know anything about running a business, or weekly check ins with clients – where they send pictures and measurements each week. 

Even though i’d ask clients how they were getting on with nutrition and training outside of our sessions, they’d always tell me things like “yes, it’s going great!” or “yes i’ve been to the gym 4x” and I just believed them, even though lots of the time they were blatant lies! lol!

I guess was just young, naive and very gullible – giving everyone the benefit of the doubt! 

Anyhow, back to the story…

I was utterly embarrassed and beat myself up for weeks, doubting my abilities, and feeling ashamed about not being able to help. My confidence took an absolute battering! 

Once our sessions came to an end, and about 3 weeks later I got an e-mail from James…

Basically, it said that he hadn’t done any of the things I told him to do outside of sessions. He followed the nutritional plan for 2 weeks and then slowly went off track for the next 10 weeks! and he only managed to go to the gym 4x in 12 weeks!

I WAS SHOCKED!

At first I was slightly relieved! Ok, well it wasn’t the plan then? It was his fault! But then I soon took lessons from it and changed my approach i.e. communicating more effectively, taking measurements, weight, etc and I started to do weekly check ins. This meant with future clients I could nip things in the bud far more quickly and be adaptable in my approach. 

Becoming a Human Lie Detector…

Over the last 6 years i’ve become a human lie detector (lol!) and I’ve heard every excuse in the book…

From “i didn’t have time to go the gym this week!” to “i had to cat sit for my friend last week!”

lol! i’m not even joking i’ve heard it all! 

People will lie or ignore the problem because they are either… 

1) Embarrassed – because that they can’t stick to the plan 

or

2) Easy to blame – it’s much easier to blame others or your environment than it is to take personal responsibility. 

It’s important to detect when people aren’t being truthful, not to catch them out, but so that you can help them and look for new ways to make their life better. Most of the things that stop clients from achieving their goals are to do with… 

  • Mindset – limiting beliefs, low self esteem, poor motivation 
  • Habits – poor behaviours around food and exercise, inconsistency, lack of action 

If you can delve into the above behaviours, and create an open and honest relationship with your clients then you are far more likely to achieve results and change people’s lives. 

Here are 3 ways to spot when personal training clients are lying so that you can nip them in the bud quickly and help them out…

#1 Body Language 

When a client comes to see me and their head is down, and shoulders rounded forward… I usually know that they’ve either had a bad day at work or haven’t been on it with nutrition and training!

Personal Trainer Tip: You need to pick up on when clients aren’t feeling great. How can you make them feel better? Do you need to chat with them and let them release their tension through conversation? or is it better to give them a fun and challenging workout and distract them? 

It’s about learning to read your clients and do what you think is the right thing. There’s a time and a place for being strict with clients, and there’s a time and a place for empathising, and being compassionate. Being able to select the right approach is the sign of a great coach. 

#2 Results 

Results don’t lie! If a client is aiming to lose weight but hasn’t been doing so for 4 weeks there’s an issue. There’s either a lack of exercise or over consumption of calories (usually both!). 

This is why taking measurements and weighing clients is important. There will be blips, nobody is perfect, and weight will fluctuate at times (water retention, hormonal issues like the menstrual cycle, social occasions like birthdays, the christmas period, etc), however it’s important to track and asses along the way. 

Personal Trainer Tip: here are some ways to assess clients: 

  1. body fat readings
  2. weight 
  3. measurements 
  4. fitness tests
  5. body language 
  6. mood
  7. energy 

The top 4 are all tangible i.e. you can track the numbers. However the last 3 are intuitive and equally as important. 

You’ll often find a correlation i.e. when a client isn’t getting results their measurements either stay the same or get worse, and their mood, and body language reflect this also. 

It’s very rarely a physical issue (unless and injury, disease, illness or hormonal issue) it’s more often a mental barrier – this is why you need to focus on the psychology just as much (if not more) than the physical aspects i.e. training and diet.

As a personal trainer it’s using both tools to asses and then look for new ways to tap into the psychology of your client so that you can help them. You’ve got to be creative and adaptable in your approach. 

#3 Not Showing Up…

I have a cancellation policy at LEP Fitness and largely people are very respectful of this. I take into careful consideration the reason for not showing up and also take into account how many times a client usually cancels (I make a note on my spreadsheet). If a client cancels regularly there’s usually an issue that needs to be addressed and 99 times out of 100 they aren’t following their plan, and training is not a top priority! 

Personal Trainer Tip: If clients fail to show up or regularly turn up late you need to nip things in the bud very quickly. You should politely raise the issue with them and reiterate that they are paying for your service, and you are giving them your time. It’s a business agreement and a two way thing. It’s important that clients are respectful and show up on time so that you can help them! If they don’t.. raise the issue and if they respond well give them another opportunity. If they don’t then it may be time to part ways and work with somebody who values your time. 

You Can Only Do Your Best & Learn Along The Way…

I’d be lying if I said i’ve completely transformed the life of every client i’ve ever worked with! I haven’t. There have been some fantastic success stories – read here and I continue to get better and better over the years, because I am committed to my clients and to providing the best level of service.

As a coach you can only do your best and keep learning along the way. You can’t change everybody’s life, but you can spot the early warning signs, address them and try your best with every single client. If things don’t work out, dust yourself off, learn from the experience and keep going. 

Thanks for reading,

fitness blogger

Nick 🙂

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