She shows up.
She’s on time, dressed in her sweatpants and oversized baggy shirt. White Keds. Vera Bradley purse.
She’s the prettiest thing I’ve seen.
Years of putting others first have taken their toll on her body. Not anymore. She just wants to DO something before she turns 66. Find herself. Find her strong.
For three months, she’s shown up. Worked hard. Learned about her body and her boundaries. She doesn’t quit.
But on this particular day, something is off.
I ask for a pushup. She gives me a squat. The balance drills that she’s usually so good at make her legs look like those of a wobbly baby deer.
Tears start to form in her weathered eyes.
Today her body is here to train, but her mind and heart are somewhere far off.
I could ask her to push through it, to focus. That’s not it.
It’s the listening she needs.
Not me teaching, correcting, talking for an hour.
She needs an ear.
She needs a friend.
So I scrap my plan with the crunches and sprints and instead, we head outside and take a stroll.
She talks….and cries.
I listen….and nod.
I don’t charge my friend for that hour.
….But she pays me anyway.
I think as trainers (and really just as people) we often forget how important it is to strengthen the EMOTIONAL state of our clients, in addition to their physical state. In fact, being a confidant and friend is quite possibly the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of our job. Knowing WHEN TO PUSH and WHEN TO PULL BACK is a rare art. One worth perfecting.
Clients pay us to help them. Period.
Part of that helping comes from nurturing their spirit. I could not get this lady to jump for me. But I got her to talk. And I nurtured her by allowing that release of emotion to come.
Our next session, she THANKED me for being a shoulder for her. Then she gave me the best workout I believe she’s ever given.
I’ve “taken walks” with four clients now. I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
This concept relates to EVERYONE, not only trainers and certainly not just pertaining to a job. I can tell when my children need me to be quiet and listen. They CRAVE a listening ear. Travis too. We ALL do!
I believe we so often try to dish out advice and speak before we should, when all we are really called to do is LISTEN. To act with compassion. To be a SHOULDER.
To meet a need by simply shutting up.
QUESTION: I am the WORST at listening. It’s a real problem that I’m working on. Are you good at listening? Any tips for putting others first?