If you're a coach, trainer, physical therapist, or just about anyone in the fitness industry - you have had or know someone who has had a client that just can't seem to get better.
Their diet is in line, their programming and progressions are well thought-out, and yet there is still no progress. Maybe they can easily deadlift 100 pounds but 105 just won't happen. Perhaps they have lost 20 pounds but that extra 2 pounds seems so far out of reach. Why? Well, it's up to you as the coach to find out.
We all have programs - both good and bad. Each and every one of us is the way we are because of the way we have been programmed. The best part about that is if we find programs that are not working for us we can reprogram ourselves.
How to find programs in your clients:
1) Ask about their goals. If you don't know what their goals are, or worse yet... THEY don't know what their goals are, you're setting the both of you up for failure. Ask. "Tell me about your goals." 5 words that may make them think in a way they never have. This in itself could be a program. If your client, friend, or even yourself has never stopped to think about what they want to achieve it won't ever happen. This could pertain to fitness, relationships, career, anything. If they don't have goals - find out why! This could be a program. Are they afraid to set goals? Are they unclear of what they want? Do they have expectations for themselves that someone else put into place for them? The first step is to ask.
2) Once those goals are set - monitor if they are being put into action. If not, why? Have you as a coach laid out a game plan for them? Have they been following it? If they have but still no progress - it's time to search for more programs.
Example: a client says they want to be a starting forward for a team on a local recreational soccer league but they keep "forgetting" to sign up. "Are there any major incidents that occurred when you were younger that could be holding you back now?" This question may throw your client off guard or at first they may say no... give them some time to think. "Well actually, when I was a kid my dad always told me I made a better goalie" or "I got tackled in football and broke my collar bone and now the thought of running towards the other team's defenders scares me." If they give you a little bit of information and you can feel they are holding back, try asking something like, "Do you mind if we go a little deeper to get to the core of it?" There is a reason people are the way that they are. As a coach, you need to play the role of investigator and help them find out why.
3) After every conversation you have with your client be sure to thank them. They may have just shared something with you that they have never shared with anyone before. "I know that we just uncovered a lot today. Thanks for being willing to share that with me. I really appreciate how you talked about (insert topic here) and now you're willing to work on (insert action step here)." Even a quick compliment can go a long way. "That was really great conversation. I'm glad I got to learn more about you today." Or "It was brave of you to dig deep and find some programs that aren't serving you anymore. I can't wait to watch you progress!"
Your role is much bigger than a trainer/coach/whatever your title may be.
Anyone can demonstrate how to do a pushup or tell someone to eat more vegetables. The advanced prescription comes into play when you begin asking the bigger questions. Understand someone's why by finding their programs. What makes them tick? Your clients are the clocks and you are the timekeeper. Figure out what needs to be reprogrammed, reprogram it, and get ready to present the world with your newly renovated masterpiece.