Keeping the goal the goal

I have a confession to make. It’s about a bad habit trainers have, and since I’m a trainer I’ll admit to being guilty of this in the past.
A client comes in and has a goal. It may be a goal they set for themselves a year ago or last week, but it’s their goal and they own it. It’s important to them. In fact it’s so important that they have stepped out of their safe and cozy bubble and have sought out the assistance of an expert.

That’s the trainer.

For the purpose of this explanation let’s say that goal is to improve their knee pain and lose some weight.
Fast forward three months and they’re doing their first Crossfit competition.
Wait… was that the actual goal? No, but the trainer likes Crossfit, and now so does the client. In fact, the client now thinks it is the most important thing in the world. The client owns Olympic lifting shoes, has a collection of Rogue t-shirts and is starting to like the taste of chalk.

Understand, none of this is a bad thing, but was any of it the actual goal? Sure, doing Crossfit may help with the weight loss, but for the average sedentary mid-forties client with questionable knees, is it the best possible path to achieving their goal?
This is not unique to Crossfit. I’ve seen it happen with powerlifting, triathlons and kettlebells to name a few. I have personally seen people come in with fairly simple goals, and six months later they’re standing on a field in Minnesota with Pavel Tsatsouline becoming a certified kettlebell instructor.

Was that the goal, or was it the trainer’s goal?
If you have decided to become a trainer, there’s a good chance you’re a lifelong athlete. You live for this stuff! You’re out of bed at 6am, you love getting in the gym or out on the field and training and you are very familiar and even comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The disconnect occurs when we as trainers cannot understand that the average person does not share that same love of athletics, at least not yet. If it’s part of the goal, that client can get there, but what if they just want to lose twenty pounds? Is it better for their unique mindset and goals to be pushed into crushing sweet Crossfit WODs every day until they’re about to puke or instead being taught a sustainable method of training using the minimum effective dose required to achieve their goals? Do they need to do a thousand kettlebell swings in a workout, or learn to use a TRX at medium intensity and get in some intervals and long slow distance work?

It’s easy to get caught up in the process, especially if it’s fun. Truth to tell, that’s ideal. As trainers we want the client to enjoy the process, but not get so caught up in it that they lose sight of the actual goal.


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