Coaching Clients Through Their Bad Days
Everyone has experienced at least one bad day (week, month or year) in their life. It’s a result of being human and is almost a given in the demanding and fast-paced society we live in. Inevitably at times life goes wrong and it impacts how we feel.
As trainers, coaches and those who work with clients, part of the job requires you to work with others through their bad days. To do this well, the key is helping to turn any negative energy into something positive and useful for your clients.
Start by providing a welcoming environment. It’s important to create a safe space for them. If they want to talk to you about something affecting their day, be receptive to listening without judgment. A little compassion goes a long way, and so does a good pep talk.
Be their cheerleader. Cheer them on with positive reinforcement. Show praise for what they accomplish with words of encouragement and positive body language. Having someone on the sidelines rooting for you can really make all the difference in our trying moments. Also, try incorporating movements/activities your client likes and feels good doing, giving them a boost of confidence.
Be flexible with, and personalize, their workouts. If the mindset isn’t there for a client to lift their heaviest or run their fastest that day, be willing to switch up the plan. You may want to change to a different form of exercise entirely. Through particular movement you could encourage them to physically open up their body more and breathe deeper, more slowly. This helps ease the body and mind.
Have a goal for the session. We feel good about ourselves when we have accomplished something. Set one or a few goals with your client that are within reach. Base it on their skill set. It can be anything from a timed plank, setting a PR or touching their toes while stretching. The purpose is to empower your clients and remind them they are capable of doing hard things. A reminder “you’re a badass” is always a mood booster!
Give them options. Your client may be having an awful day but they didn’t cancel the session. This is proof in itself that they showed up to work. When possible, be open to feedback from clients about what they like and don’t like in terms of training approaches and their fitness journey. While it’s your job to challenge them, giving your client options they can choose from will give them a sense of control and ownership.
The good thing is that showing up and putting in the work always has positive results. It’s proven that exercise helps improve mood, so even a bad workout is better than no workout at all. At the end of the day, with an empathetic and positive mindset, you’ll leave your clients feeling a little better than when they first came to you. And that might make you feel a little better, too.