Building Resilience and Motivation in Uncertainty
Updated: Oct 12
“My client is moving out of the area in two months and is afraid that she won’t be able to continue her program without me. How do I help her develop the resources to continue and to succeed?”
The ideal accomplishment of a personal training relationship is that clients become self-sufficient: they learn to coach themselves to stay on track with a fit lifestyle. Of course that doesn’t mean that they won’t want to continue personal training sessions.
A great relationship with one’s trainer has a special place in a client’s life.
I often say that there are twin engines that need to be fueled and fired up to start and sustain changes in mindset and behaviors: self-motivation and self-confidence. A client’s relationship with a trainer can keep both engines on full throttle by revisiting the gains and benefits of a fit lifestyle, to recharge motivation, and to co-create ways to navigate around barriers and challenges, to recharge confidence. Here’s a short list of open-ended coaching questions that could help lead a client to improve his/her motivation, confidence, and performance, in your absence.
Tap into Motivation
1. How might your move be a catalyst for you to learn and grow? Humans are meaning-makers; we are always asking ourselves – why is this happening to me? What am I supposed to learn from this experience to make the disruption worthwhile? Help your client find ways to make her move meaningful, to tap into her wisdom about new possibilities. Perhaps it’s time to build his/ her confidence in maintaining a fit lifestyle without you, or to experiment with new types of exercise. Or maybe this client will find a new trainer who brings a different and helpful perspective.
2. If you were to imagine your vision for your lifestyle in this next phase, what would that look like? Just like an architect draws a picture of a new house, the brain benefits from having a vision or picture of what an ideal future looks like. Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson describes envisioning, a brain activation pattern, where brain regions related to visual processing at the back of the brain are activated, as a critical early step in the creative process. Help your client imagine a vision for his/her fitness or well-being, in writing or pictures. A good vision has magnetic force like that of deliciously warm sunshine, drawing us toward it.
3. How does your fitness and wellness help you live a life you treasure? Humans have a strong need for autonomy2, to march to our own drummers, using our unique life forces to learn, grow, and make the world a better place. Fitness and wellness is the fuel for one’s life force; it’s vital to be fit and healthy to live the life our hearts desire. Help your client discover and explore the connection between the life he/she wants to live and the physical and mental health and energy needed to support it.
1. What strengths and talents do you have to help you get to your vision? Only one-third of adults can identify their strengths; most of us spend more time thinking about our weaknesses. There is often untapped potential in strengths that clients use skillfully in their professional and family lives. One assessment used by coaches, called Values in Action Character Strengths, identifies one’s top five “signature” strengths — check it out at www.viacharacter.org. Perhaps your client is good at planning and execution, or creative problem-solving, or learning. You can discuss new ways to put these strengths to good use to stay on track with a fit lifestyle.
2. What is one major challenge and three possible ways to overcome it? It’s important to help clients discover their capacity to be curious and creative in handling small and large obstacles that emerge to sabotage their good intentions to stay healthy. A brainstorming exercise, where you and your client come up with new ideas to navigate around a challenge, can help your client access his/her creativity to deal with the ups and downs that are unavoidable in busy lives.
3. What is your special formula for being resilient? Your client has most likely handled some setbacks while at work and home. Help him/her identify the strategies and resources he/she used that worked best to get back on track. Was it reaching out for the support and counsel of others? Or his/her ability to discover the silver lining or meaning of the setback? His/her confidence in their ability to bounce back? His/her curiosity about what the lesson to learn would be? His/her persistence to not give up? Once he/she has more clarity about what works, he/she can tap into her resilient formula when the need arises.
Now it’s time to use your creativity to come up with open questions to explore how your clients could tap into their heartfelt motivation and use that energy source to continually improve confidence to live the life they treasure. Even better, consider getting trained as a wellness coach so that you can continue your client relationship when she moves away.
Originally published in ACSM Certified News Coaching Column