With summer officially over, we’ve seen regular clients resume their workout routines while new clients resolve to commit to a weekly Pilates program. It is undoubtedly a busy time and often clients will switch to a different instructor’s schedule for whatever reason – a change, a scheduling conflict or a fresh perspective on a workout they’ve been doing for a while. Change is inevitable and very often a good thing. But a smart instructor will remember that each client has a different focus, a different idea in mind of what the hour should achieve and a different way of connecting into the exercises and their body.
Knowing your client beyond their physicality is as much a part of their workout as the exercise program you create for them.
Mastering an understanding of the exercises and modifications for common postural alignments or musculo-skeletal limitations is all good and well and absolutely key to what you offer. But, if you don’t have a sense of who you’re working with and the type of personality you’re engaging in the session, it might become a frustrating and short lived experience for all.
For many clients who workout on a consistent basis, the hour can often be about the experience of working with a familiar person as much as it is about the exercises they’ve done. Many clients can get attached to one instructor and when they do work with another one, the most common feedback I receive (both positive and otherwise) is always in regards to the instructors demeanor and personality. For many, that can be the deciding factor in carrying on with that instructor or moving on to someone else.
For instructors, this means that we need to know our clients’. And often, we may need to wear different hats throughout the day given who we’re working with.
This industry is just as much about people skills and how we interact with others as much as anything else. There takes a certain skill in being able to work thoroughly with those who want to focus purely on the task at hand and then switching up your approach 60 minutes later to gently focus those who might want to talk a little bit more about, well, everything, so that a well rounded workout is still achieved.
And that skill cannot be developed through the memorization of exercises, modifications and muscles. Rather, it is attained by having the patience to trust your intuitiveness, the curiosity to always want to know a little bit more about those you come into contact with and an absolute genuine interest of and respect for others…
It is important to remember that you remain in charge of the workout, regardless of who you’re working with. But it’s also important to remember that your clients have committed to spending one or more hours of their precious time on a weekly basis with you. So beyond the workout, asking about their interests, hobbies or if appropriate, their concerns is a thoughtful gesture that can demonstrate your appreciation for their business and the privilege of having earned their confidence.
While it need not take over the workout, or be something you engage in constantly, it can be as simple as the occasional quick email, hand written card in the mail, a text or, a pertinent question that reflects concern and thoughtfulness at the beginning or end of the workout hour.