New Year's Resolution Solution: Accountability Contract

New Year's Resolution Solution: Accountability Contract


Preparing for the Resolution Rush

The First of January is nearing and we all know what will happen.  The resolutions will start pouring in the door.  Year after year, the same routine: a person makes a resolution to lose weight, get healthy, exercise more.  That person comes to us for support and services.  How can we provide both to help them reach their goals?  Creating a Resolution Accountability Contract puts a concrete plan in place.  Many people feel comforted by having a plan in place and marking off the accomplishments along the path of that plan.  Print this plan for your clients today and get them started in 2017 with hopeful direction toward reaching their resolutions.  

The Resolution Consultation: Valuable Conversation (and working through the worksheet: PDF icon Resolution .pdf draft 1.pdf)

When a client comes to the gym with her resolution, determined to make the changes she thinks are necessary to reach the goal, the first step should be a valuable conversation designed around creating a Trainer/Client Contract.  The conversation should establish necessary components of the Resolution Plan: what is the resolution, what does the client see as the action items toward reaching the goal(s), what does the trainer see as the action items, what are the agreed upon action items, when will assessments be taken - how will the plan be implemented, and how will communication occur?

What is the resolution?

Simply stated, most resolutions are too big.  Many new gym goers bite off a huge chunk of resolution: I want to diet and exercise and lose 50lbs by March.  No.  Help your clients dial back the overstated goals to create a realistic goal map: a plan that incorporates phases of future goals.  Goal 1: lose 5 lbs, focus on nutrition, add 3 workouts per week.  Goal 2: lose 5 lbs, maintain nutrition, add 1 more workout per week. Deadline these goals, schedule them on both of your calendars and get to work.

What does the client see as the action items toward reaching the goal(s)?

Some folks know what to do to reach their goal – most do not. Ask your client to think this over before you meet for the initial consultation.  What type of exercise does she think she needs to implement?  It is likely that she does not understand the benefits of the various formats of exercise nor how to incorporate a plan of steady state cardio, intervals, and strength to achieve the desired results.  Ask for the specifics of what she would do on her own. Make sure she notes any physical limitations, exercises preferences, or past injuries here.  

What does the trainer see as the action items?  

After listening to her input and gathering her opinion, the trainer should combine her ideas with his.  Maybe her idea is to walk a lot and you know that is not going to cut it.  Give her a walk on Saturday morning, without you.  At this point it is important to explain the benefits of the variety of formats prescribed.  If you are only meeting once per week, encourage her to try a fitness class one additional time, and then take her Saturday walk.  Pace her so that the new routine is comfortable and not overwhelming.  

What are the agreed upon action items?  

Once both sides have been heard from a plan should be in place.  Write it down.  Watch her put it in her calendar and let her see you put it in your calendar.  These items should be included in the Resolution Accountability Contract.  

When will assessments be taken?  

Assessment of the goals should occur frequently.  At a weekly weigh in discuss her progress and evaluate her participation.  See if she is ready to add to her goal map and increase to four workouts per week.  What formats is she enjoying most, what makes her feel strong?  Weekly chats during the weigh in are critical to understand if the goals are on track and also for nurturing the relationship.  Understand that most clients are scared of “assessment” because it involves facing the reality of the scale.  Assessments, though, are critical to accomplishing the goals and understanding the value of compliance.  These assessments should be included in The Contract each week.   

How will the plan be implemented?  

Basic steps need to be written down.  Set a week up for her on paper and then let her roll with week 2.  If the plan includes nutritional changes, recommend a staff nutritionist or suggest she speak with her doctor. Legally, as a trainer, remember you are not allowed to give dietary solutions.  Suggestions are another story - suggest a healthy recipe here and there, suggest a great way to dress up water, or suggest a nutritious cereal option.  Most importantly, write down the steps that need to be taken for her to be successful.   Use the back of The Contract for this plan and make her a copy to take home at the end of the first appointment.  

How will communication occur?

When the first meeting is over you need to know how you will communicate and how much communication she needs.  Does she need reminder text messages for the fitness class or the Saturday walk?  Does she want you to touch base regularly, just to be that healthy bird in her ear?  I would encourage you to tell her you will text her before class and before the walk.  Don’t give her an option to say, “I only want to talk to you at the training session” because that is a recipe for disaster for a resolution client.  By including this “contact” note in The Contract, your new client understands the terms of working with you.  

The Trainer/Client Accountability Contract

Often, a new client is overwhelmed with her resolution and looks to her trainer to help sort it out - step by step.  Using The Accountability Contract creates a sense of direction and security for your clients to step into 2017 confidently with positive plans in place.  Take the time to work through each of these steps and reference the contract throughout the training plan so your new client understands you are holding up your end of the bargain and sticking to the agreed upon terms.  


In Good Health,


*Check out the SPECIAL OFFER for our BLOG READERS today*