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Personal Training

Personal Training: Fitness is a Marathon, Not a Sprint


It may sound like common sense to think that fitness and health is a marathon, not a sprint, right? For many people that work as health and fitness professionals, it is common sense. But, it is not necessarily common sense for members. For many of them, health and fitness is more like a mad dash toward a certain weight on a scale, or a certain clothing size.

This is bad news, for health clubs and members. It’s bad news for members because trying to lose weight or gain strength quickly almost always ends in disaster. Members either workout too much and get burned out quickly, or eat too little for too long and end up binging at the end of the process — neither of which routes provide results. And ultimately, this is bad for health clubs, because when members don’t get results, they quit their gyms, reverting back to the routines they had prior to joining.

This is why as a health club, it’s important to ensure your members are getting the right guidance on realistic expectations during their fitness journey. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways, some of which are detailed below:

Onboarding (With Monthly Check Ups)

Ensuring your members have realistic goals starts during the member onboarding process. Find out exactly what your members are striving to accomplish, and then talk to them about whether it’s possible. If a member wants to lose 10 pounds in a month, let them know that a more reasonable goal would be 2 to 4. That way, they won’t be crushed if 10 pounds aren’t lost within that time frame. Instead, they’ll be encouraged as long as they made some progress, no matter how small.

But, don’t just check in on them during the onboarding process. Be sure to check in on a monthly basis to see how they’re doing. If they’re meeting their goals without your help, great! If not, you have the opportunity to get them involved in other areas of the club that can help them reach their goals, whether it’s personal training, small group or nutrition coaching.

Regardless if they buy coaching or not, offer your members some sort of encouragement, whether it’s a pat on a back or a coupon for a free smoothie. Support, no matter how small, can go a long way in a member’s fitness journey.

Personal Training

As you know, personal training is one of the best ways to ensure a member reaches their goals. Trainers have the knowledge to know if a member’s goals are realistic or out of reach, and can make small adjustments along their journey to get members where they want to be, faster.

With this in mind, personal trainers also need to keep an eye out for members whose goals are likely unattainable, and reign them in a bit. Say a member wants to drop two dress sizes in one month. Although possible, the way they do so will likely be unhealthy. So, trainers should take the time to remind members that health and fitness truly is a marathon, not a sprint. They didn’t gain weight overnight, and they certainly won’t lose it that way either.

But, they shouldn’t just lecture — each trainer needs to sit down with their clients and come up with small “sub” goals that will help them reach their overarching one. Again, when members see some progress, they’re much more encouraged to keep going.

Member Support Group

Although personal training or nutrition coaching is ideal, another way to ensure members reach realistic goals is to pair them them with members with similar goals. Consider making a member support group, where members can share weight loss tips or workout together three days a week. This way, members can see that other people are in the same boat as them, and won’t get as discouraged when their results don’t come instantly.

This way, you’re not only the person in a member’s life preaching the “fitness is a marathon, not a sprint” philosophy. Other members can share their stories, offer words of support, and spread the message that everyone is in the same boat.

The point of these methods is to remember that sometimes, members need gentle pushes to remember that fitness isn’t always easy. Sometimes, results take time, and members need to stay encouraged that they’ll get where they need to be — just not at the snap of a finger.


Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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