Have you ever noticed how most health seekers like to start their goals on “the first”? It might be the first of the year, the first of the month, or the first day of the week. Oftentimes, once a health seeker has their start day planned out for “the first,” we typically gorge ourselves with all the sweets, carbs, salty and fried foods that we can stand before starting our new lifestyle. I say “we” because, as a health seeker myself, I fall into this same trap all the time. The trap of starting back at the fitness facility on “the first” – swearing off all the foods that I have been indulging in over the past several days, and determined to lose 20lbs…in a month. I will then restrict myself to some new diet plan like the cabbage soup craze and plan to start working out six or more days a week. It’s a vicious cycle that every health seeker wants to break free from. We all are desperate to make “this time” really work, and that’s where you come in. As a health coach, engaging with new members at your facility and working with them to set appropriate and realistic goals may be one of the most important things you can do to help them truly break the cycle and finally make long-term changes.
I think it’s obvious that the goal of losing 20lbs in a month is not practical. Don’t get me wrong, I have done some amazing things with cabbage over the years and yes, I would lose weight. However, eating cabbage soup and working out six days a week as a working mother is just not something I can stick with. Trust me, I’ve tried! I might be able to keep it up for a couple of weeks, but eventually I’m going to eat some chips or I might miss a workout. At that very moment when I “mess up,” it’s a crash and burn situation. I beat myself up emotionally for messing up. Then, I don’t want to go to the gym and have to confess to my coach that I messed up, so I slowly stop coming into the gym and eventually end up canceling my membership.
So, let’s talk about what you can do as a coach to help your clients that are like me to set SMART goals that will help build their self-confidence. Setting SMART goals is not a new concept. It stands for: Specific, Measurable, Action, Realistic, and Timed.
- Specific – Defined, specific goals. Health seekers usually walk in with a specific goal in mind, like losing 20lbs.
- Measurable – Help your client define short measurable goals that can be achieved in the next couple of weeks. For example, have the member agree on a specific amount of cardio activity that they will perform each week.
- Achievable – Once you have helped your client establish some measurable goals, help them to plan out the details. For example, encourage them to try a new group fitness class.
- Realistic – As a coach, it is your job to set up realistic and attainable goals. If a member tells you they are going to work out six days a week, but they are currently not working out at all, you should encourage their enthusiasm but suggest realistic goals that the member can maintain.
- Timed – We want our members to be able to achieve these goals relatively quickly to help build their self-confidence.
Never underestimate the importance of setting proper goals with your clients. You want to make sure that the goals are attainable so that the member feels confident and will continue to come into your facility. However, as they reach their initial goals, you want to gradually challenge them to pique their interest and encourage them to reach for more. When your clients meet their goals, be sure to acknowledge their achievement. Health seekers love certificates, a pat on the back, or a t-shirt…and I have a t-shirt quilt to prove it! As that health seeker continues to make progress towards their goals, it’s you that they will thank for helping them succeed.
If you would like to learn more about the key areas you should master to improve membership performance, download our free eBook: The Science of Member Retention.
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