Stages of Behaviour Change…

Have you ever heard of the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change? Its something that personal trainers refer to when assessing where our clients are at with their commitment to their fitness regimes. The interesting thing is that we can even place people in this model before we even meet them! Sounds like we are slapping a label on clients – but its not – its actually a really useful tool for us to support you in where you are at on this continuum of behaviour change.

This model isn’t used only in personal training! Its used in almost every aspect of behaviour. Maybe you’re looking to start a new career or embark on some new education – basically anything that may require some sort of commitment (commitment you might not even know about yet!).

I wanted to talk a bit about this model because I thought it might be interesting for you to know from my perspective that I understand and may be able to help you – before you even realize you need the support!

I get a TON – a TON of Facebook messages, emails, texts and the odd phone call – those ones always throw me off guard now a day – lol! People message me and it usually looks like this:

“Hi Olivia, I’m wondering if you can tell me more about, [insert training, nutrition coaching, life coaching].” Its a pretty broad question for me at first because I’m not sure how this person has found me. Maybe they’ve been referred, maybe a website search, maybe Facebook or Instagram. So I often will lead them to my website, which has quite a bit of information and ask them if they have any more specific questions, what their background or experience is (in terms of training), what other programs they’ve done (in terms of nutrition) etc.

Sometimes there is a lot of back and forth and I’m almost certain I’ll have a new client, which for me is always really exciting. However, sometimes and I will admit, more often than not, they are not ready to commit. This can be for several reasons. I’m quite fortunate that I have a degree in marketing and I’ve had all sorts of experience with how to close a sale. However, when it comes to people, I have never once looked at a personal training client or a nutrition client as closing a sale. In that respect, I kind of suck because we are taught a lot about how to close a sale as a trainer. I find that I’m quite soft when it comes to this industry. First and foremost because its a very vulnerable thing. Sometimes people don’t realize how vulnerable until they start. Second of all, its a big investment. One that I wholeheartedly believe is worth every single penny, but I completely empathize with the fact that personal training and nutrition coaching are only going to happen when all the bills have been paid, kids’ activities and supplies have been shelled out and there is food in the fridge and gas in the car. Life is expensive, I get it. Having extra funds to pursue training and nutrition is usually way down on the budget items. I take that fact very seriously and if someone does sign up with me – I ensure that their investment is returned in full.

So here is a little diagram that will show you this model I am talking about:

At the top – we have Pre-Contemplation. These are the folks that aren’t even thinking about a trainer or nutrition coach. They might not know that such a service exists or that it is something that could even be accessible to them. Sometimes these people have their interest tweaked by a family member who may be concerned about their parents’ or partner’s health or maybe has a friend with a bad knee who suggests that maybe they should think about getting a trainer to assist them.

Contemplation – this is the stage where I spend all that time messaging back and forth with clients. When I first started out as a trainer, I used to get super frustrated that I couldn’t convince these people to come work with me. Now, as I said above, I am very respectful of the fact that this is a very vulnerable thing and a big investment. Some people may just not be ready to jump in. I tend to be a bit impulsive and jump in with both feet with whatever I do. Something a bit of age and wisdom has taught be to slow down a bit with! lol! So I treat these messages as a part of my job. Something to have compassion about and to respect people’s need to make this decision.

Action – this is when I’m actually working with clients. My favourite part. I love working with clients. I learn so much from each single person I work with. Whether its different health issues that I have to research in order to know what a person is dealing with, mental health issues, previous injuries, current injuries, getting ready to run a mud-run or obstacle course, maybe a first 5K – this is where the action is at!

Maintenance – ok – I lied – THIS is my favourite. This should be the goal of EVERY SINGLE TRAINER!!! There is NO better career satisfaction than to have trained/coached a client and to have them go off on their own and continue with their commitment to their health. To see that their investment has completely paid off. They know that they need to exercise and eat right in order to live their fullest life. If you have had a trainer that isn’t encouraging you to let their reigns free from you and help you get away from you (lol!) – but not kidding – then that trainer is likely in it for the money and not for the love or passion of what they are doing.

Relapse – no no no!!! But yes, yes, yes… Oh, unfortunately this is my least favourite. Especially when I’ve worked with a client for a long time. I get to know them and their life. A lot of times, at least in my experience, this comes with women (and men too) that put themselves last. Their family, their work, their whatever keeps getting pushed in front of their own needs. This one is the one that makes me bang my head (literally) on the wall. I see so many amazing people who have the hugest hearts and are so smart and giving and awesome who train with me and I think I have them all set and ready to go into maintenance… and then… it happens… they fall off the wagon. For a long time I took this quite personally. How dare they not listen to me!? lol! But you know what? I can only assist and support – I can’t do it for them. My only hope is that these people sometimes hear my little (evil) voice nagging them to get moving or drink their water or get their protein in! Maybe one day they will come back to me to get back on that wagon… but this is life – real life. It happens – I get it.

Ok – so a post that is a bit out of the ordinary – but something that might help explain how a trainer/coach sees our clients from a more “technical” standpoint. But also so you can see that we get it – no matter what stage of change you’re in – and we can help and support you no matter where you’re at!  When you’re ready – I’m here!