Know Their Why
By Nat Howard, BA Dip Edu
If you’re a PT fitness provider, it’s likely that you train and exercise because you enjoy it. You have an intrinsic motivation towards it. It’s also likely that you get measurable results from it.
It can be easy to assume that everyone has this experience and mindset when it comes to exercise. Of course you know that some people are just at the start of their health & fitness journey, but you probably still have that thought in your head saying, “Sure, it’s hard for them now, but with some effort they’ll get to that point where they just feel good exercising. They’ll start to love it.”
In part this is true. Exercise does release endorphins, and the stronger and healthier we are the more vibrant we feel. But, if there’s a mismatch in the type & timing of the exercise for the person, they won’t receive their maximum potential in terms of experience and results. You can find out all about the specifics of training times and styles for every body type in our PHA course.
HOW the person exercises is crucial for their best results. But even more important than that, is being really clear on WHY the person is exercising. While every person and situation is unique, we can see very clear biological patterns in what motivates people. We can break this down into 3 broad categories:
Doing it for Me
Doing it for Them
Doing it for a Mission
A person will have a combination of these motivators, of course, but they will have one which is dominant. They may not be clear on that at first. This is why precision training is so powerful. When you know the biology of your client, you can tap into their biological motivator – even if they aren’t in touch with it themselves yet.
A “Do it for Me” person generally wants to exercise because it’s fun. But if they’re not in a good place, they may have been conditioned to over-filter or downplay themselves, being overly concerned about what others think of them. When actually, a really strong and confident self expression is healthy for them to thrive. Building this attitude through punchy hard hitting exercise, risk, challenge and variety will help shift them back into the mindset that really is healthy for their biology. Keeping it fun, being free to change it up whenever they want, is critical to keep this kind of person on board.
A “Do it for Them” person may be lacking the energy to really get stuck into their health & fitness, they may be flaky or lethargic. They may be feeling that they’re already drained from giving to others in their life – or, they may not actually have enough people around them to connect with and care for. If this kind of person is not being energised by meaningful care and connection with others, they may want to recluse and over indulge, so it is all about them. Just exercising or training will not break this. What they need is a genuine, personally meaningful link to be made between their health & fitness and the people they are, and want to be, caring for. These people will need a steady approach, and that deeper anchor of their why to help them endure their road to wellness.
A “Do it for a Mission” person is usually pretty self motivated, so they turn up for training with clear goals and they commit to them. But if they’re not in a good place, they may be in an aimless state, believing the mantras of “just going with the flow,” floating around with too many things going but not enough focus. This is a person who will only thrive when they take full control and do everything for a very specific purpose. They need to zero in on their targets, and training styles that really emphasise precision, progress and purpose are gold for these people. Minimise distractions, interruptions or surprises for these people – set it all up, and stick to it.
What motivates one person can be actively demotivating for the other types. This is why it’s essential to have the right fit for your client. And it’s essential you aren’t just guessing, or making assumptions purely based on their behaviour or what they say. People can behave outside what is ideal for their biology, out of habits etc. You need to know exactly what will achieve measurable and sustainable results.