Where do people often go when they’re unhappy with the way they look? To the gym! They believe their unhappiness and ‘problems’ will be solved through group exercise classes or regular sessions with a PT. People want to be happier and healthier, and in today’s image-obsessed society, this means they want the ‘right’ body that advertising and social media tell them is key to a happier life.
As a fitness professional, you would have heard from countless clients that they want to look good, lose weight and tone up. From your first meeting with a new client, you can help them find and pursue goals that go beyond appearance. You can encourage them to think about how good they feel after exercising, how satisfying it is to become stronger, or how much more energy they have when they make healthier choices.
Focusing more on how your clients feel rather than how they look will not only help them discover the joy in regular exercise, it will also stop the feelings of disappointment that can occur when clients feel their appearance isn’t changing as much as they want it to. And from a business perspective, people who feel better about their bodies are more likely to engage in physical activity – and clients who are feeling positive and enjoying their exercise are more likely to continue working with their PT.
So what can you do to encourage a ‘fitness for every body’ culture?
• Understand your client’s motivations for exercise/sport
• Accept that bodies come in different sizes and shapes
• Build in non-appearance and non-weight related goals to your clients
• Avoid unnecessary measurements or weigh-ins, and never share your client’s weight or measurements with others
• Pay attention to your client’s attitudes and feelings towards exercise and look out for warning signs that they may be developing unhealthy exercise/eating habits
• Be aware of your own attitudes towards body shape, weight, exercise and food, and be a positive role model
• Focus on the benefits of the exercise, and not appearance changes
• Make the exercise a life-long habit
• If you choosing to work with your clients to develop goals, try to engage the goals to health, enjoyment, performance, flexibility or stress relief rather than around appearance.
• Create a positive fitness workplace: think about the images and wording you / your business uses to attract new clients.