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Setting Goals with Your Clients

It is essential to have a thorough baseline goal setting discussion with a client that takes into account the uniqueness of body size and shape. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when goal setting, as each client is different with a variety of needs.It is essential to have a thorough baseline goal setting discussion with a client that takes into account the uniqueness of body size and shape. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when goal setting, as each client is different with a variety of needs.

An initial goal-setting session will focus on creating the client’s long-term goals.  The long-term goals will be based around their personal values (e.g.  Who do you want to be? What is really important to you?) The goals discussed initially are an extension of a client’s values; so they will definitely contain some passion and inspiration. This will help them to remain upbeat and focused throughout the whole process of getting stage ready lean. Fitness professionals should ask the following questions to a client and make a note of their responses:

  • What would you like to achieve in 3-months?
  • What would you like to achieve in the next year?
  • What would you like to achieve in the next 2-years?
  • What is/are your ‘dream’ achievement(s)?
  • What does that/those dream achievement(s) look like and what steps must you take to get there?

The next part of generating a plan is to build achievable short-term process goals from the long-term outcome goals that have already determined. Interestingly, long-term goals are formed by linking together numerous short-term goals already created.  Achieving short term goals help to provide both the client and the fitness professional with a focused route or map. This route will provide a client with motivation and confidence after they see the benefits of an improved physique upon their life.

An important element to a solid goal setting strategy is that there be a focus on the ‘now’ to narrow down goals to the ones that are essential to dropping that “X” % of body fat while preserving a lean body mass. Overwhelming a client with ‘unstructured goals’ that have no real substance and baring for the ‘Big Day’ will only be setting them up to fail.

Fitness professionals should be a big believer in the ‘SMART’ Goal approach when goal setting with a client. This acronym translates to specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. This ‘SMART’ model is used by many fitness professionals and incorporates the following principles:

Specific: having a defined, specific goal with an intended outcome to achieve. Goals will contain a detailed description of what will be achieved when the goals will be reached and what actions will be taken to achieve those goals e.g. losing 10 pounds in 3 weeks or 30 pounds in 3 months and switching over to whole foods.

Measurable: the client’s goals should be assessed throughout the length of the leaning out phase by using body composition and fitness assessment tools. This baseline data can then be used to track and adjust any variables for continued success with the goal setting for achieving a stage ready lean physique on schedule.

Attainable: all the goals should be achievable but challenging!  The support network should be offered to ‘challenge’ a client in the right environment and for them to also grow as a person.

Realistic: this part of the goal will be working towards an objective that one is willing and able to do. It is important to believe in this part of the process and it is desired to establish whether past experiences connect within this area. Establishing what factors are required to make this goal realistic is also important (e.g. work schedule, sleep patterns, eating and exercise habits etc).

Timely: all of the goals discussed should have a specific date to completion and they will be realistic, but too distant in the future. As mentioned previously lots of well-structured short goals make up long term goals and dream accomplishments (e.g. losing 10 pounds in 3 weeks or 30 pounds in 3 months).

From all of the important information that a client has provided during the initial meeting; fitness professionals should create an action plan. The action plan should clearly state how to achieve each of the short term goals. The following areas should be discussed:

  • What is/are your goal(s)?
  • What is the target date to complete the goals by?
  • What resources will be required to complete your goals (time, cost and equipment or additional coaching needed)
  • What will you require to achieve the goals on a daily basis?
  • What is/are the current status of your goal(s)?
  • What are some of the barriers that can be overcome to reach your goal?

A copy of the action plan should be given to the client and then ‘continuously’ evaluate/review the success of their short term goals.

Be aware that circumstances do and will change, so the goals of the client should be adjusted accordingly; as the most important part of the whole goal setting process is keeping them on track during the leaning out phase. Therefore, a SMART goal setting approach to the cutting phase should make the client feel empowered, focused on inner confidence.

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