Sometimes just talking is more valuable than working out…

A few years ago now, we introduced the concept of hybrid gym memberships at MadLab School of fitness.

We had been doing personal training as our fundamentals program for years, and then we would ‘graduate’ clients to group classes. 

But we eventually discovered clients weren’t being adequately serviced in group classes. As their coach, I no longer spent one-on-one time with them, so even though I was still coaching them in classes, some of that all important coach-client connection dwindled. Not only that, but when things came up in their lives, such as injuries, I would come up with a band-aid solution to get them through the class, as opposed to a more long term plan. It’s all I could really do in the moment, as I was trying to manage a class of 20 athletes. On top of this, most people’s goals and priorities shift over time, so the lack of one-on-one time with my clients meant I wasn’t really able to help them with their changing personal goals and needs, be it fitness, nutrition or life goals or challenges.

As a result, our client retention wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Enter: Hybrid gym memberships.

The concept behind them is to continue to meet with your clients for a one-on-one session once a week, once a month or once a cycle (6-weeks). The goal being to:

•Keep the relationship alive between coach and client

•Help clients best prepare for the upcoming programming cycle so they can have as much success as possible in classes

•Tackle any injuries or limitations they have and provide homework as needed

•Address any problems/challenges they’re having in group classes and strive to fix them

•Discuss their new goals and come up with a plan to achieve them

•Address any other life issues, be it diet, nutrition, stress, sleep etc etc..

Originally, these sessions were meant to be one-on-one personal training sessions, where the clients worked out. But most recently, I have discovered these sessions don’t need to be all about the workout. Sometimes it’s better to avoid working out at all!

Case in point:

In January, I met with a client of mine for her once-every-six-week hybrid personal training session. 

She had been coming for exactly two years, and while she had made incredible physical gains since she started (She could barely squat when she first arrived, and now she can squat 150 lb. and it looks pretty damn good, not to mention the huge endurance and mobility gains she has made), she expressed to me that she hadn’t lost a single pound since she started.

My intention had been to give her a workout that morning, but I found myself not wanting to interrupt her as she opened up about how her entire family is overweight, and how she has always been overweight most of her life. And about how her wife is blessed with good genetics and can eat anything she wants, while my client cannot, and she finds herself overeating with her wife. Enough was enough, she wanted to make a real change and wanted help.

We ended up sitting down and chatting for the entire hour and came up with a plan to get her diet on track. (Seeing as I’m currently going through the Precision Nutrition coaching certification, this was a great opportunity for me as a coach).

She also happens to be a vegetarian, which made coming up with a plan a bit more challenging, but at the end of the hour we had settled on some action items, including:

  1. Meal prepping every Sunday
  2. Tracking macros
  3. Committing to eating more protein and less carbohydrates

We also came up with a list of foods to include and not include in her diet, as well as a host of meal ideas. I followed this up by sending her a whack of vegetarian recipes that fit into her macros.

At the end of the session, I apologized that we never got to workout and hinted that we should reschedule her workout.

Her reaction:

“Are you kidding me? I got more out of this session coming up with a nutrition plan than I would have from working on my clean.”

Fast-forward six weeks, and we did another one-on-one session today (though we have been in touch via text on a weekly basis and she has been coming to classes four to five days a week). 

She came in with a huge smile on her face and announced she has lost 10 lb.

We talked about her diet and some new meal ideas, and then she really wanted to do 19.1 as she’s competing against a friend in Arkansas. Her goal was 5 rounds. We chatted about pacing for 10 minutes and then she paced her way to 5 rounds plus 3 wall balls. 

I honestly have never seen her work that hard, never heard her heart rate so high, and never seen her so confident in her abilities. 

Then she followed up with this text this afternoon:

“Thank you so much for today. It totally felt like a win and I definitely worked harder with you coaching me through it! Ever since we had our goals chat I have really stuck to this plan and I’m seeing it work. I weighed myself when I got home and finally snuck into the 170s (179.4), but I haven’t seen that number in years. I’ve been making it to class five days a week without fail and it’s putting me more in touch with the community at the gym, which really helps with commitment. I just wanted to say thanks, thanks, thanks.”

The point of all this, though, is to say that there’s so much more to it for most people than the workout of the day. And to get people what they really want, they can’t just be hitting it hard every day in a group class. They need a connection with a coach, and sometimes they need to skip the workout entirely and just talk. 

As a coach, there’s no greater compliment than what I experienced this morning with my client. My heart is full. 

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