In the past I’ve had clients that were adverse to the gym, or apathetic towards training in general. This was the opposite of my experience in training most military personnel and combat athletes and made me to see things differently.
I believe I’ve come to understand why some people are gym adverse or apathetic..or least I understand things far more than I used to.
With that said, here are my thoughts.
1. Know the Warrior and the Weapons
You as the trainer are the Warrior. You have been trained to handle clients up to a certain level of difficulty. Advanced training allows you to tackle clients of greater difficulty.
Your methods, knowledge,skills and abilities are your weapons.
Every weapon has its applications and limitations .
The questions to ask yourself is “Can I train and motivate a person that is afraid of the gym, or hates exercise?”
There’s nothing wrong with saying “No”
2. Know the Terrain…
As trainers we typically feel at home in a gym. In some cases the gym is our zen den where lifes issues are temporarily dropped and reality is between you and the iron.
Where you train can make the decision for you.
I train most of my clients in a Powerlifting/Bodybuilding gym. This is not the sort of place the adverse or apathetic client would find attractive. The same could be said of Strongman facilities and CrossFit boxes.
Convincing the adverse or apathetic client that your facility presents nothing to be afraid may take some work on your part.
3. Know the Client…
The gym adverse often seem to have histories of one of the following:
1. A trainer that injured them.
2. A trainer that failed to deliver results. (Perception of such makes it reality.)
3. The client winged it on their own and injured themselves.
4. The client failed to see results despite efforts and expense.
I take these points into consideration, but only so much. Frankly there are clients that will magnify the slightest discomfort and equate it with injury, or put in zero effort on their own and blame the trainer for their lack of results.
Not knowing the full story of their training time I’ll take them at their word until things are proven otherwise.
Left to their own choosing, the gym apathetic will usually not seek out trainers. Typically they are referred from existing clients or their Doctor told them “Exercise and lose weight or die.”
4. Employ Effective Tactics
Establishing trust is key with the adverse and apathetic.
With the adverse you will have to carefully consider both the program and controllable comfort factors.
Would it be wise for example, to send an adverse client straight into the squat rack, or position the client next to people dead lifting enormous loads? Personally I love the sound of a well dropped barbell, but I know that isn’t shared by the adverse .
Regardless, the adverse client will have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Easing them into things may be required.
This is where I inform the client that effort is directly tied to success.
With the apathetic I try to find what motivates them. Some can be extremely difficult to reach while others are quite open about it. Open is good..
This is where knowing the client, their families names or little special details matter greatly. Those details can enhance the effectiveness of your weapons.
5. Measure your Effectiveness
Each week, find some program variable that the client improved upon. I am openly biased in stating that strength gains or weight loss (or both!) are perhaps the greatest measurable indicators that improvements are happening.