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This article originally appeared on Seth Munsey's new blog, "The Client Centered Coach." Seth is one of the many awesome gym owners in the Motivate Collective who are adding habit-based training and behavior change techniques to the way they do business. You can join our conversations on our private forum or at our Motivate Summits A few weeks ago a long-standing member of Iron Republic, Megan, approached me after an evening session and asked if she could give me some feedback.

Usually, the “can I give you some feedback” comment can cause a coaches’ brain to go into a twisted spiral of dread and despair.  However, she had a smile on her face, so I felt somewhat at ease with what she was preparing to say.

“Seth, I just want to say that I love how you never make this place about appearance.  You make Iron Republic about having fun and enjoying movement alongside others just like us.  The rest of the stuff, like weight (change to appearance or looking better), is just a by-product.”

To say I was ecstatic about that type of feedback is a serious understatement.

Now, I know what many of you may be thinking.  “Not make it about appearance?!? What type of gym is he running there?”

Let me first say that I have nothing against gyms that preach thinner thighs and tighter tummies.  That is definitely what some people want from their fitness program.  Some people thrive participating in a transformation contest, some don’t.

There are many others though, that choose to use a different “scorecard” to measure their success in a fitness program. And it is those people who do not come to see people like you and me because their perception of trainers from past experiences, movies, and reality TV shows, is that we only have one measurement for success, weight loss.

The thing is, I never choose the scorecard for my members. I try very hard to influence their scorecard as little as possible.

Megan was playing off her own scorecard.  She placed high value on enjoyment, being a part of a community, and consistency.  Fat loss was not her number one priority, so she didn’t stress about it and let it happen naturally.

As fitness professionals, we often unintentionally select the scorecard for our clients.

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Is this gym for fat loss clients only? Who knows.

Many clients come in to see us and are not really sure what they want out of a fitness routine.  So we say something like, “Well, how much weight would you like to lose?”

So they immediately start thinking that their weight is an issue.  Maybe they figured they could lose a few pounds, maybe they didn’t really care, but they’re now thinking, “I must look a little chubby, because why would a fitness professional be asking me how much I would like to lose if I wasn’t?”

So their scorecard, as to what constitutes a successful fitness program, now becomes based off how much weight they are losing.

As pretty much every fitpro knows, not everyone will loose a ton of weight, no matter how much they train with you.  Which makes a lot of coaches very nervous.

Who wants to tell their fitpro friends that their program doesn’t melt fat like butter on a hot stove?

A few years ago I began to notice something very interesting. The less I talked about appearance and weight with my clients, the more fun they would have in class and the longer they would stick around.

“Losing weight” became less of a focus, and just enjoying movement for the fun of it became their primary focus.

Did they still lose weight? Absolutely.

Was shopping for smaller clothes now on their list of things to do?  No doubt.

All of those things became side effects of spending more time enjoying movement with others just like them, and letting go of the “I only workout because I need to lose weight, and if I don’t then I am a failure” mindset.

If Megan based her entire scorecard on whether or not she was losing weight every single week, then she could have become disappointed pretty early once the scale stopped moving as fast as she wanted.  This could have led her to believe that my fitness program was not appropriate for her and that she needed to move on to the next person claiming overnight results.

I always take into account that as a fitness professional, my job is to help guide them to whatever makes them feel the most successful, not what I define as success.

What scorecard are your clients using, yours or theirs?

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