As fitness professionals we need to encourage not only the physical fitness but also the mental fitness. In the psychological arena of life we are our own worst critics; the mirror does have two faces and unfortunately in most cases the image we see looking back at us is grossly distorted.
We as professionals are morally required to not only address the physical goals but to also educate and modify the psychological goals and mindset of our clients. I have noticed in many cases a person will begin a fitness regimen without realizing this is not a “quick fix” but a lifestyle change. After following his/her fitness prescription for a few days or in some instances a few weeks unaware that their unsatisfactory state of being did not occur overnight neither will the level of expected results. This disillusionment is often followed by reverting back to old lifestyle habits.
In some cases the client is successful to a fault; they achieve or exceed their goals yet do not acknowledge their fruitfulness. Instead their views of themselves remain that of their previous state thus hence beginning a self destructive downward spiral eliminating sustenance such as “good” fats and necessary carbohydrates depleting the body of iron and other valuable nutrients in efforts to become more defined.
Some persons resort to nutraceuticals such as diuretics, fat burners, and caffeine or combinations thereof and some take it one step further by employing the aid of steroids and other unsavory means resulting in a different kind of downward helix regardless of consequence.
I believe it is our responsibility as professionals to take a proactive approach to these issues at the forefront of their education by formulating a personalized program for each client based upon their individual, psychological, and physical needs. The mind is the biggest de-motivator in how the body functions and as fitness professionals we are the leaders.
Self-esteem is the cogwheel for the body’s desire to achieve and, depending on the motivation it receives, it can either push the body to excel or it can drag the body to levels of sickness and even death.
Ways to combat negativity:
1. Set small but attainable goals
Set a goal that is within the grasp of the individual but is attainable through effort. By doing this, you give the client minor achievements and thus start the building blocks for greater performance. A skyscraper is a tall structure and yet, it can tumble down with the removal of just one minor support.
2. Compliment, but don't smother
Much of the reason a person desires a CFT is self-esteem; the individual is dissatisfied with his/her looks and wants to change them; how that person came into this state of mind can be many; media, family and/or friends or a spouse. If you investigate closely, you will probably discover the basis was created by negativity. THIS is your biggest opponent! You can prescribe a prefect fitness routine along with a well balanced diet, but if you haven’t begun to combat the effects of negativity, THEN ALL IS FOR NAUGHT. Always have a SMALL conservative compliment for your client. Ensure that it is sincere. It can be as simple as “Hey, thank you for being on time. I really appreciate it." Once again, you must begin modest. DO NOT target the clients’ weak points (areas that the client states he/she is concerned about). Doing this will appear as being false, smug, or arrogant, no matter how sincere you are. In reality, these areas will not change overnight and, as gently as you can, the client must come to realize this. The clients’ self-esteem has to be exercised just like the body. If you noticed, most gyms are surrounded by mirrors. This is NOT a coincidence. Gyms are a breeding ground for self-esteem, but they can be a minefield for those whose self-esteem is little, weak, or damaged. Convincing your client that improvement will come slow, BUT IT WILL COME is paramount! Make sure they understand that each person’s body is different and that people will always have different results on the same efforts. Let them know that you did not emerge out of the womb in the condition you are in now, and that, with your help and guidance, they will achieve their goals as well. Understand that your clients are utilizing your knowledge and direction as a vehicle of which to arrive at their fitness destination.
3. Motivate, Motivate, Motivate!
It is amazing what human beings can achieve with the right motivation! Do not just prescribe your clients a routine and stand back. Remember, that 5 – 10 push-ups you’re asking them to do may be easy and hum-drum for you, but it is MONUMENTAL for them!! Coach and cheer for them! Do not be embarrassed by it! Yes, in your mind, it may sound silly, but believe me, the mental fuel you give that person will energize them and will allow them to achieve their goals, and positive energy rubs off!!
Remember leadership is the ability to influence individuals to accomplish a task by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. We are the example, let’s set great ones!