Coaching Cheat Sheet: How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations


If you happen to’re a well being, health, or vitamin skilled, I guess at the very least one among these eventualities will sound acquainted to you. (Perhaps each).

State of affairs A: A brand new consumer walks in and tells you precisely what she desires to “rework” into.

The unhealthy information is that she’s displaying you an image on her telephone of a star who doesn’t remotely appear like her (and you know the way a lot work this superstar had to put in to get these outcomes). Then this new consumer tells you that she solely has time for 2 30-minute classes per week.

State of affairs B: You’ve been working along with your consumer for some time, and he or she’s crushing it!

She’s getting improbable outcomes, and but she’s not glad… ever. “I’m simply not the place I would like to be,” she says. The extra you concentrate on it, the extra you notice that her objectives appear to be a transferring goal: she doesn’t like her arms, she desires to be leaner nonetheless, she says there’s one thing “fallacious” together with her abdomen, and so forth.

This may be irritating and disheartening — for you and your consumer.

Naturally, you need to arrange your consumer to succeed. You need her to attain her objectives, really feel superior, and rejoice her success. In spite of everything, that’s most likely why you’re on this enterprise within the first place — to assist individuals.

Not solely that, however a dissatisfied consumer isn’t precisely good for enterprise. What if she begins to doubt your means to assist her? Even worse, what if she blames you when she isn’t ready to get the outcomes she hoped for?

Fortunately, there’s a resolution. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t embody bursting your consumer’s bubble or telling her she’s fallacious.)

On this article, we’ll offer you six methods for reframing unrealistic consumer expectations so you may assist your shoppers get out of the cycle of dissatisfaction and really feel nice about their outcomes.

Why Do Ladies Have Such Unrealistic Expectations for Themselves?

To reply that query, do this fast sport.

(This train is courtesy of Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez, affiliate professor at California State College–Fresno and curriculum contributor to the GGS Coaching & Coaching Ladies Academy.)

Google the phrases: match girl. What do you see?

Seemingly loads of:

Lean our bodies
White our bodies
Younger our bodies
Our bodies with no seen disabilities
Six-pack abs and lightweight muscle (however not “an excessive amount of”)
Attractive poses
Stylish exercise clothes like crop tops and quick shorts

(Do this with “wholesome girl” and also you’ll get comparable outcomes. Plus a lot of photos of ladies laughing whereas consuming salad.)

You don’t have to go looking for these photographs to see them.

Photos that present how ladies “ought to” look are all over the place: on Instagram, in magazines, in superstar tradition, TV and flicks, in promoting, and fairly probably even on posters and ads on the very health club the place you’re employed.

After all, it’s not simply the photographs we see. It’s additionally what we are saying and listen to (and infrequently suppose).

For instance:

Have you ever ever heard somebody say, “She’s too skinny! Jeez, simply eat a sandwich!”

How about, “Are you able to consider she’s carrying that, at her dimension?”

Or, “A bikini!? At her age!? What’s she considering?”

These sorts of feedback reveal that ladies’s our bodies are ceaselessly mentioned, evaluated and scrutinized. Whether or not these conversations are about celebrities, strangers, relations, colleagues, or buddies, it sends a message that ladies “ought to” look a sure manner, and in the event that they don’t, they’ll be judged and criticized.

Ladies are ceaselessly judged and evaluated by their our bodies.

Ladies could encounter judgment and criticism about their our bodies at dwelling, work, faculty, in public locations, and in locations of well being and health together with the physician’s workplace, well being services, and the health club.

If we’re trustworthy with ourselves, we coaches, trainers, and well being professionals may notice that we’ve made assumptions about ladies based mostly on their dimension (even when we haven’t meant to).

For instance:

Have you ever ever assumed a consumer was match or able to sure workouts due to how she appeared? You will have guessed that as a result of she was lean, she was additionally in fine condition or had wholesome consuming habits. (And also you may need been fallacious.)
Or, have you ever ever assumed consumer wasn’t match or able to sure workouts due to her physique form or dimension? Maybe it turned out she had higher cardiovascular health or athletic functionality than you thought.
Equally, have you ever ever assumed feminine consumer wished to drop some pounds… when that truly wasn’t her main objective?

These are frequent errors. And so they exhibit how ladies are ceaselessly judged and evaluated based mostly on their our bodies.

In consequence, many ladies consider they “ought to” look a sure manner.

That’s why your consumer expects (or hopes) to rework her physique.

And she or he’s coming to you for assist.

The factor is, you already know one thing your consumer doesn’t.

You recognize what it takes to change a physique… and it is likely to be crystal clear to you that your consumer’s expectations merely aren’t life like.

For instance, reaching that “supreme” physique may require…

Important trade-offs that don’t align along with your consumer’s way of life.
Extra time within the health club than she’s ready to spend.
Strategies that don’t help her different objectives or general well being.

And possibly even…

Apart from, within the case of some shoppers, it’d look like it doesn’t matter what outcomes you assist them get, they’re simply by no means going to be glad. They all the time need to lose extra weight or enhance another a part of their physique. Their expectations maintain shifting simply out of attain.

So what do you do? How do you assist a consumer set life like expectations for herself — and love her outcomes?

6 Methods to Assist Your Consumer Reframe Her Expectations

Coping with unrealistic expectations is undeniably troublesome — for you and to your consumer. Fortunately, there are methods you need to use to assist your consumer see what’s life like and wholesome for her. This fashion, she is going to really feel profitable as she works in direction of her objective.

1. Take a compassionate have a look at your consumer’s issues and apprehensions.

Your consumer could also be not sure — maybe even fearful or fearful — about how coaching will change her physique.

It’s possible you’ll hear her say issues like:

“I don’t need to carry heavy weights as a result of I don’t need to get cumbersome.”
“I solely need to practice my abs as a result of that’s the place I would like to drop some pounds.”
“How will I eliminate my saddlebags if I don’t use that one machine?” (the abductor machine)
“I don’t need to acquire any muscle. I simply need to tone the muscle I have already got.”

(I’m positive you may consider different belongings you’ve heard alongside those self same traces.)

These sorts of moments might be irritating. However they will additionally current an incredible alternative…

If you happen to don’t flat-out inform your consumer she’s fallacious!

Sure, you learn that proper.

As an alternative of getting annoyed or attempting to persuade your consumer that your manner is best (“I promise, you received’t get cumbersome!”), method her with compassion.

Do not forget that she probably desires to give attention to the outcomes she hopes to obtain as a result of she feels strain to look a sure manner.

“When serving to shoppers by way of issues or expectations that we really feel are unfounded, we should keep in mind this important reality: to our shoppers, their issues and expectations are neither silly nor unrealistic. They might be based mostly on lack of knowledge or understanding of sure processes, however this doesn’t imply your shoppers deserve a harsh smackdown to convey them again to actuality.” — Carolina Belmares, Coaching & Coaching Ladies Academy curriculum contributor.

One of many worst issues you are able to do is to dismiss your consumer’s issues outright. Positive, you may know that her fears are unfounded. (After all, she isn’t going to flip into the Unbelievable Hulk, particularly not in a single day.)

However in case you ignore or dismiss her, the true message you’re sending is that you simply’re not receptive to her issues.

Then again, in case you select to get curious and ask her questions, you create a possibility to perceive, join with, and coach her extra successfully.

Attempt asking questions that can enable you perceive the place her apprehension comes from. For instance:

“Is that this an expertise you’ve had up to now?”
“Are you able to give me examples of what you imply once you say cumbersome?”
“What makes you nervous about coaching in another way?”

Getting inquisitive helps you set the stage for a extra optimistic interplay and provides you the chance to develop a stronger relationship along with your consumer.

2. Remind your consumer there’s a broad vary for what is taken into account regular.

Your consumer may need a really particular concept of what her outcomes “ought to” appear like, based mostly on what she’s noticed in different ladies, in health magazines, or on social media. She could also be evaluating her seems to be, her progress, or her efficiency to what she sees in others.

To assist your consumer perceive that outcomes are by no means one-size-fits-all, listed below are a number of suggestions you need to use.

Clarify to your consumer that the spectrum of “regular” outcomes may be very broad and varies from one particular person to one other.

Many components past train and vitamin can affect outcomes and the timeframe it takes to obtain them, together with:

Exercise ranges (out and in of the health club)
Total well being

… and extra.

Use teaching cues that permit for various ranges of motion and efficiency, with out judgment or comparability.

Chorus from utilizing cues that encourage competitors and might push your shoppers into evaluating themselves with others (e.g., “Bump up that weight, Claire! Shonda is crushing you over there utilizing these massive plates!”).

“Phrases akin to ‘Select a weight that’s reasonably heavy for you,’ ‘Let me know in case you want a distinct modification,’ and ‘Work with the vary of movement that your physique is providing you with at present’ are frequent in my small-group courses and encourage individuals to give attention to their very own exercise. ” — Kara Stewart-Agostino, Coaching & Coaching Ladies Academy curriculum contributor.

Put collectively a photograph assortment (akin to an album or Instagram account) showcasing numerous consumer journeys.

(Ensure you’ve gotten your shoppers’ specific consent, after all. That ought to all the time be required earlier than you share any particular experiences, info, or pictures).

Present your consumer a various illustration of our bodies and experiences to remind her that each particular person’s journey is a bit completely different. This may increasingly assist her refine her personal objectives and expectations in accordance to what’s life like for her. (And it could assist her broaden her personal concepts of what ‘wholesome’ and ‘match’ can appear like.)

As you evaluate pictures collectively, have a dialog. For instance, it’s possible you’ll say issues like:

“Do you know that not everybody desires to drop some pounds? Listed below are a number of ladies who really wished to acquire some muscle mass…”
“Right here’s an instance of some shoppers of their 40s who have been trying to get stronger and have fewer aches and pains. You’ll be able to see their outcomes right here. This girl even competed in a powerlifting meet final month and took 2nd in her class!”

These conversations can assist your shoppers see their objectives in a brand new gentle, give attention to their very own work, and acquire a greater appreciation of their distinctive journey.

three. Give your consumer an correct “insider’s” perspective.

How a lot does your consumer really find out about what goes on behind the scenes to obtain the depictions we sometimes see of the business health trade or athletic competitions?

It’s simple to scroll by way of social media or flip by way of health magazines and stay oblivious about all that’s required to create these photographs of “good” our bodies.

Remind your consumer that folks in health magazines, celebrities who’ve gotten in unbelievable form for a film position, and prime athletes all make their dwelling from their our bodies.

It’s their job. Their full-time job.

Which means these individuals:

Might practice up to 30 hours every week (that’s undoubtedly extra work than your consumer can put in throughout her two or three weekly classes).
Get to make their our bodies practically the only real focus of all the pieces they do by controlling each facet of their life (meals, sleep, relationships, and many others.).
Can depend on the help of a full workforce of trainers, nutritionists, cooks, babysitters, and many others.

If you happen to’re working with a consumer who believes these photographs painting life like objectives, you may remind her of all of the work that goes into creating them, together with:

A workforce of stylists and make-up artists whose objective is to create essentially the most flattering seems to be,
Skilled photographers who craft photographs with good lighting, cautious angle work, and a whole bunch of outtakes,
Skilled retouching to be certain the lighting and coloration stability is good, and
In lots of circumstances, further digital enhancement of the pictures (i.e., “Photoshopping”).

Apart from, the one outcome we’re seeing is the one which’s crafted for the general public to see. We don’t see what occurs after the film, after the picture shoot, or after the athletic occasion.

(Plus, even when celebrities share their “new wholesome way of life” suggestions, we don’t know if the knowledge they’re offering is correct. There’s a excessive likelihood they’re merely attempting to promote one thing.)

Sharing this info along with your consumer can assist her take a step again from these “good”  photographs that appear to have change into the brand new regular and suppose extra critically about what she desires to obtain.

four. Encourage your consumer to cease consuming media that leaves her feeling unhealthy about herself.

Whereas taking a look at photographs of elite athletes, health fashions, or celebrities could also be offered as “inspiration,” it’s normally extra detrimental than useful.

Analysis means that we really feel worse about ourselves after taking a look at photos of individuals with “supreme” our bodies than after taking a look at “impartial” photographs. (That is true of each women and men, really).

There’s a easy train you may encourage your consumer to do — and even attempt for your self. Ask her to pay shut consideration to how she feels about her physique after watching TV, studying health, superstar or trend magazines, or scrolling by way of social media.

If she tends to really feel worse about herself, it’s time to begin curating the kind of media content material she’s consuming. Listed below are some easy-to-follow options:

Each week, unfollow social media accounts or let go of a specific media outlet. Maintain going till she’s not partaking with media that leads to comparability and destructive physique emotions.
Deal with media that provides tutorial or technical content material and concentrate to the language used within the posts she sees. Does she discover body-shaming language hidden in there?
Reduce down on media consumption altogether and substitute different actions that make her really feel higher. This may very well be spending time open air, having fun with a weekly “screen-free” evening with household or buddies, taking a yoga class, or something she notably enjoys.

Whereas, as talked about above, publicity to sure sorts of media can have a destructive impact, do you know that some sorts of media can have the alternative, optimistic impact?

Usually seeing all kinds of our bodies can assist us rework the way in which we see our personal physique.

By looking for out photographs that embody a wide range of our bodies of all sizes and shapes, postpartum our bodies, older our bodies, in addition to our bodies of various races and skills, we broaden the definition of what we discover acceptable, enticing, or lovely.

Illustration is essential.

You’ll be able to steer your consumer towards social media accounts and media retailers that provide a extra numerous illustration of our bodies and experiences. Be sure that these our bodies differ from what’s historically represented within the media.

5. Rejoice your consumer’s efforts and differ your phrases of encouragement.

Outcomes might be arduous to management. Many components come into play, so holding agency expectations about outcomes can set your consumer up for disappointment.

By serving to her give attention to what she will management, she will commit to doing her best daily with what’s obtainable to her, and she will discover methods to benefit from the course of.

What small wins are you able to acknowledge and assist your consumer see?

Objectively, what progress is she making? Which areas, apart from her look, are you able to emphasize?

Is she main by instance by all the time displaying up on time and having a optimistic impact on the opposite contributors within the class?
Is she refusing to let her busy schedule detract them from displaying up to her exercise classes?
Does she attempt new issues, regardless of her preliminary discomfort, or regardless of the concern that she’ll look silly or be “unhealthy” at it?
Does she encourage others in school and promote the spirit of teamwork you’re attempting to domesticate?
Is she studying to prepare dinner new issues in order that her vitamin is extra aligned with their objectives?
Is she transferring her physique in new methods or noticing a distinction in the way in which she carries herself?
Does she embody new wholesome habits in her each day life in a manner that’s beginning to really feel like second nature?
Does she discover herself utilizing new strengths she’s simply found or superpowers she forgot she had?

“In my courses, I ensure that I encourage and praise every particular person girl on the progress she’s making — even whether it is small. ‘Wow, Jane! Your stability is getting so a lot better! Good job, Sarah! You might be getting out that second set now!’ I by no means touch upon physique form or dimension, however reasonably on effort or efficiency. This creates a tradition within the class that doesn’t help an excessive amount of comparability.” — Marika Hart, Coaching & Coaching Ladies Academy curriculum contributor.

Assist your consumer discover and respect her personal progress markers.

Studying to acknowledge these small wins and taking the time to rejoice them is a superb manner to keep current and energetic within the course of — and to maintain unrealistic expectations in test.

It’s additionally a good suggestion for you to mannequin this in order that your consumer can see that these small wins depend for everybody. For instance, your consumer could dismiss including 5 kilos to a carry, saying it’s “no massive deal,” however in case you share how glad you might be that you simply have been ready to add 5 kilos to one among your lifts, it should assist her put her personal achievements right into a more healthy perspective.

6. Lead by instance.

What you say and do has the facility to set the proper tone and develop a tradition that’s optimistic and inclusive. That’s true whether or not you’re working one-on-one with shoppers, instructing in a business health club setting, in large-group environments, and even in distant teaching.

Create and implement a coverage with no tolerance for criticizing, shaming, or bashing anybody’s physique. (This contains not criticizing your individual physique.)

Make it clear that destructive feedback about our bodies aren’t acceptable and won’t be tolerated. Be compassionate however agency about this.

Nevertheless, be certain your shoppers know that if they’ve destructive emotions about their physique, your door is all the time open for a non-public dialog the place they will share how they’re feeling.

Your objective shouldn’t be to make your shoppers afraid to specific how they really feel however to assist them change into conscious of the phrases they use.

While you witness physique criticism, shaming, or bashing, use the chance to educate shoppers to reframe what they’re saying and discover a optimistic space on which to focus as an alternative. (“I hear that you simply’re not feeling nice proper now, however have you ever observed how a lot your squat type has improved? Do you keep in mind how difficult it was for you a number of months in the past? Your progress is unbelievable!”)

At any time when potential, use all kinds of photographs in your health club, in your web site and social media posts, and in your advertising and marketing supplies.

Pay additional consideration to the photographs you’re utilizing in your area, in your signage, in your web site, and in social media.

Do not forget that these photographs additionally set the tone and provide the alternative to visually specific that you simply welcome and help all our bodies and all sorts of objectives.


Making a tradition through which your shoppers develop life like expectations, get nice outcomes, and really feel improbable about their progress (along with your assist)… now that’s actual management.

Isn’t that the coach you need to be?

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