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Supporting the Bigger Client

July 6, 2022
5 minute read

Hey team!

One big reason we choose to be in the fitness profession is because we want to help people. Either because we have grown up playing sport and being active, or we have grown to love activity and want to share that with others, or because we may have gone on our own health or weight loss journey and know how much this can change people’s lives for the better. As fitness professionals we help our clients through the medium of exercise, good health practices, fitness, and movement. Mindset and behavioral change are also an increasingly key factor for long-term success and client retention.

In this blog I will be sharing how to support the bigger client through their weight loss journey, and how consistency is key for success.

Hopefully, you’ve read my recent blogs to help give you an idea of how the ‘bigger client’ experiences exercise from a unique perspective, and this blog gives you another practical tool you can use to enrich their experience with you even further.

Blog links here

I do want to start off with one piece of advice – because we can get super excited and because we love what we do!

Please remember – It is not your journey, it is theirs. We cannot do this for them no matter how much we may want to! There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the best for your clients, especially when you can see their potential, but as the old saying goes… you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. In other words, you can offer someone an opportunity, the tools, the vision, solutions, guidance, examples, the way out, a different path, healing, relief, etc etc, but if they aren’t ready to own their ‘stuff’ (their role/ownership in where they are now, self-responsibility), no amount of training, nutritional advice or support will help. It will become overwhelming for them, knowing they are letting you down, and they will just disappear because it gets too hard.

One super easy tool I use with clients is The Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change. I use this so a client can show me where they feel they are currently at, and so I can show them that relapse is a super normal part of overall behaviour change. Many bigger clients who have yo-yo dieted multiple times will see relapse as a failure, and completely fall off the wagon. By showing them it is NORMAL, reminding them of what the big picture is, and that consistency over an extended period of time will create sustainable changes long-term, helps them adapt to the idea of change much easier. You can also pull this out when your client is struggling with motivation, they are struggling to remember why they started this journey, they aren’t seeing results as fast as they think they should be, are finding (or believing) that they have to change a multitude of behaviours/habits all at the same time (overwhelming!!) to see progress, or they are just having a bad day!
Reinforcing to them how making small changes makes a big difference long term is huge, but the biggest key ingredient is consistency.

Supporting the Bigger Client

The Trans-theoretical Model of Behaviour Change

The Trans-theoretical model of behaviour change starts with the pre-contemplation stage and follows round to the right (clockwise). This model of change helps you to distinguish where your client is currently at with their willingness and readiness to change their behaviours, habits, and patterns. This is a great tool for you AND your client.

Stage 1 – Pre-contemplation:
Common phrases = I can’t, I won’t, I don’t want to.
No intention of changing behaviour. Not willing to take responsibility for their behaviour or the consequences of their behaviour.

Stage 2 – Contemplation:
Common phrases = I may, I’ll think about it, I’ll look into it.
Aware that a problem exists. Thinking about possibly changing something but not sure what or how. Haven’t figured out the ‘why’ behind their behaviour. No commitment to action.

Stage 3 – Preparation:
Common phrases = I will, I can.
Intent on taking action towards change. Actively thinking and planning towards making those changes. More aware of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind their behaviour.

Stage 4 – Action:
Common phrases = I am, I’m doing it, I’m trying.
Active modification of their behaviour. Actively working on changing their behaviours. Benefiting from the changes currently actioning.

Stage 5 – Maintenance:
Common phrases = I still am, I’m being consistent, I feel better.
Sustained change. New behaviours replace old. Becomes their new normal. Actively aware of how the old behaviours did not support the desire, need for change.

Stage 6 – Relapse:
Common phrases = I can’t, I won’t, it’s too hard, I’m not good enough, I’m useless, I have no willpower, it’s easier to be how I was before.

Fall back into old patterns of behaviour. Something triggers them to fall back into old habits. Too much too soon, too overwhelming, pressure from other people, etc. They won’t necessarily fall all the way back to the pre-contemplation stage - however, they will learn some lessons about themselves with each relapse and learn what to do differently next time (with your support of course 😊). Remind them that relapse is a VERY normal part of the model of change and modifying behaviours long-term, and they haven’t blown everything! You can explain to your client that if they never relapse, then they will never realise/see how much progress towards change they have actually already made! It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being realistic and setting them up for success not failure.

There is no time limit to spend in each stage of change – they can take as long in each stage as they need to in order to feel like they are achieving, not failing. The goal for you is to help them to keep learning and growing and moving towards the changes they want to make for themselves.

Here are some other ways you can show support -
Do – Listen and acknowledge. Champion their efforts, not criticise. They are learning each day, and this is huge for them.
Do – Support. Ask questions. Educate yourself about your client’s journey and what they are doing. Ask them the how, why, and what questions. Be interested in their answers and their progress.
Do – Offer positive reinforcement:

  • You’re doing great
  • I’m proud of you
  • You are making really amazing changes and putting in a really good effort

Do – Ask how they are FEELING! Checking in to see how they are feeling about what they are doing with you is super important.

  • How do you feel you are doing?
  • Are you feeling supported?
  • How is your body feeling with the exercise we are doing?
  • Are you struggling with anything?

Support is key for you client to feel successful and to maintain all the amazing changes you are helping them to achieve. Giving support makes you a life changer. How cool is that?
Check out my ‘Training the Bigger Client’ Course here

You can also listen to the podcast where I have a chat with Jono and Travis about this topic and what is covered in the course on the Fitness Education Online Podcast – The Bootcamp Blueprint. Link here

You can also listen to the podcast where I have a chat with Jono and Travis about this topic and what is covered in the course on the Fitness Education Online Podcast – The Bootcamp Blueprint. Link here –

Related Topics:

“Exercise Considerations for the Bigger Client”… Health and fitness at any size

To weigh or not to weigh? Should Trainers Ditch The Scales Once and For All?

Ep:104 Training the Bigger Clients with Vanessa Warren

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Fitness Education Online are one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to the professional development of Personal Trainers. We have over 30 registered AUSactive CEC courses.  Click here to check them out!


About The Author: Vannesa Warrren

Vanessa Warren (TWC Wellness Consultant) is a leading Health, Wellness and Activity specialist. She is the premiere Bariatric Exercise Specialist in Australasia currently located in New Zealand, and has spent the past 13 years working exclusively with hundreds of people who have had bariatric weight loss surgery. She has combined her vast experience and knowledge of 30 years working in the health and fitness industry, and has created the TWC Bariatric Programmes covering all stages of the weight loss journey from the pre-surgery phase through to 12 months plus post-surgery.

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