Doing business with your heart

As a professional serving the movement industry, I was taught to sign up as many clients as possible and try to hang onto them for as long as I could. It didn’t matter if we reached their goal or had barely progressed; the goal was to just hang on. And losing a client was tragic because then you had to do the difficult work of finding a new client. This approach is still the norm within our industry but having a few years under my belt has helped me to see how transactional this engagement is.

Going back about 5 years ago, I found myself in the midst of a full schedule but realized I had no exit strategy for any of my clients. It dawned on me how selfish that entire engagement was. Not intentionally selfish but more a matter of cultural norms, circumstance and familiarity. I didn’t know what I didn’t know but once I knew, I couldn’t unknow it. That realization caused me to create a program that placed my clients needs ahead of my own. I wanted to create a relationship where they would no longer need me beyond a year. My goal was to fully empower them to sustain the progress we would achieve together.

Conceptually, this sounded like a great idea until I started applying this novel concept. I was nauseous to say the least. What seemed like a great idea, suddenly had me wondering if I was going to suddenly “empower” all of my clients and then they’d leave me and I’d have no one to work with, I’d have to move in with my in-laws (they’re great actually) and suffer the consequences of my bright idea. Nonetheless, I allowed my heart to continue leading although my ego was telling me otherwise. It actually took a number of years to organize an approach completely different than what the fitness industry has suggested but I haven’t looked back since.

Today, our goal is simple. If you share one year of your time with me, I’ll give you everything you’ll need to know to manage the journey of health-fitness-wellness and high quality living. I couldn’t have ever imagined the response we were going to receive, our clients…

  • Actually started enjoying the process of losing weight and getting in shape
  • Become more vulnerable with us early on, allowing us to help them more effectively
  • Started putting diet and exercise into its rightful place and prioritized the bigger issues they were dealing with
  • Stopped relying on us for accountability and starting relying upon themselves
  • Not only lost weight, improved their posture and energy levels but were also getting promotions at work, restoring strained relationships, extending forgiveness, started saying I’m sorry, healed their marriages, paid off debt, explored new ways of expressing themselves, became role models for their children and the list goes on and on and on.

What we’re doing is not magic but it is magical. We’re developing the whole person (Body-Mind-Spirit) and allowing their waistline, their strength, their energy and all of their goals to follow. We’re helping people feel good first, which authentically motivates them to participate in the activities that cause them to look good. We’re placing needs ahead of wants, mind and spirit before the body and our hearts before our egos. And as for losing my clients, never happened! Instead, I’ve discovered that when you treat people right, they actually come to love, respect and trust you in return and while they could leave after a year, they end up staying because they want to, not because they have to.

 

“Always trust your gut, it knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.”

Caring is all that’s missing

I’ve been serving health, fitness and wellness industry for 17 years and not so long ago, I realized that I was only conditioning one aspect of my clients: their body. I was leaving so much on the table by not addressing their mental, emotional and spiritual needs.

I’ve come to realize that as a movement professional, if we care enough, we can serve a role larger than just being a vehicle to a good workout. No, you don’t need to be a pastor to uplift someone’s spirit and no, you don’t need to be a psychologist to help some explore a solution to a perceived problem and no, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to help someone improve their emotional intelligence. You simply need to care enough.

You have to care enough to want to make a difference, care enough that your investment in that person will outlast your time with them, care enough that your interactions will have a positive effect on people you will never meet, care enough to give it your best shot, care enough to fall, care enough to get back up, care enough to encourage and empower others, care enough to be criticized by the people who don’t understand or care enough.

As my work continues to evolve, I want nothing more than for my clients to say thank you for teaching me how to choose myself, how to become a leader in my life, how to put diet and exercise into it’s rightful place, how to bring my life into balance, for giving me everything I needed to be successful so that I can grow independent of you and most for teaching me how to love and believe in myself.

This is my purpose, my passion and my legacy and I believe our industry will move in this direction as the professionals who comprise it stand up and say: I want to make a difference!

 

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Margaret Mead

That’s not my job

About 3 years ago, I really started giving myself permission to play a larger role in the lives of my clients. Their goals were centered on health, fitness and wellness, which is heavily focused in the physical realm (think diet and exercise) but I was seeing a greater need in the mental, emotional and spiritual realms.

When someone says they want to lose weight and get in shape but go on to tell you they’re their own biggest enemy and worst critic, what am I to do? Should I tell them that dealing with the mind is not my job and refer them to a psychologist? If so, would they even be receptive to investing in another relationship? Not to mention, the difficulty in having to overcome the stigma of “needing a therapist,” given the judgmental world we live in.

Believe me, it would be much “easier” to refer someone out when they hit a mental roadblock but I never signed up for easy work, I signed up for the work of solving interesting problems, for the work that causes a change from the inside-out and for the work that makes our world a better place. Easy and worthwhile are rarely, if ever seen together.

I could hardly imagine how these conversations would even play out…

  • I’m not motivated to make the right decisions…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I have strained relationships on the homefront…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I’m super stressed and my schedule is chaotic…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I’ve been turning to alcohol for comfort…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I don’t believe in myself and feel depressed…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I just found out my spouse has been cheating on me…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I struggle with perfectionism and people pleasing…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I’m in lots of debt and I’m scared I’m going to lose my house…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • The reason I want to get healthy is because I fear dying…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!
  • I want to lose weight but more importantly, I want to feel loved…I’m sorry, that’s not my job!

If I were to wait for the client whose needs were purely physical and needed no mental, emotional or spiritual support, I’d still be waiting for my first client.

 

“It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude.” Zig Ziglar

The struggle to find answers

As health and fitness professionals, we can easily get caught up thinking we have to have all the answers for our clients. We fear that if we don’t they may lose respect or trust or that even worst; they may discover that we’re imperfect too.

Time and mistakes are wonderful teachers, over the last 17 years I’ve learned that it’s far less important for us to give answers than it is to throw the ball back into their court and have them struggle to search for an answer themselves.

The downside of giving away the answer is you never empower your client to become their own sustainable solution and to remain a leader in their lives. Then, when they leave our care, they continue relying upon others for answers, for reassurance and for permission to lead their best lives.

As they struggle to find an answer or a truth about themselves, they develop a sense of self-worth as they endure those mental gymnastics. We can no longer get caught up in believing that our clients will grow if we simply tell them what to do or mistake that our value comes from having all the answers.

 

“A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.” Christopher Reeve

 

Living the dream

When clients come into my studio, they ask me how I’m doing and after just a few sessions, they realize what I’m going to say: “I’m living the dream!” At first, they chuckle because it sounds cliché but eventually they realize I’m not kidding, I’m truly living my dream.

My dream is not determined by the amount of money in my bank account, the size of my house, how current my wardrobe is, how many vacations I take a year or how green my grass is.

The question to ask is: How am I measuring success?

Well, I set the bar really low, so that happiness/my dream isn’t difficult to find. My dream is measured by the fact that I woke up today, that I’m happily married, I’m teaching my son how to be a man, I have wonderful friends, I have free will, I’m able to express myself by way of this blog, I’ve created boundaries based on my personal values, I intentionally aim to satiate my fundamental needs, I’ve got a roof over my head, food to eat and water to drink and I have a God who loves me even though I don’t always love myself.

Living the dream is much more about subtraction than it is addition.

 

“Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning.” Charles de Lint

Bringing things full circle

When your lifestyle is imbalanced, symptoms are inevitable and can range from financial to relational, emotional, spiritual, comfort issues, etc.

The remedy of course is to start balancing your lifestyle, which can seem conceptual or vague but can be easily applied by committing to bringing things full circle in your life…

  • When you make a purchase, be sure the funds are available.
  • When you upset someone, follow up with a sincere apology.
  • When you sit all day, stretch out at days end.
  • When you use a dish, wash it when you’re done.
  • When you wake up in the morning, make your bed when you rise.
  • When you commit to a project, see it all the way through.
  • When you start reading a book, finish it.
  • When you create a boundary, make decisions that honor it.
  • When you change out of your work clothes, get your clothes ready for the next day.
  • When you fall down after trying something new, get back up.

The challenge to bringing balance in your life is you must remain fully present in your day to day engagements. However, when you commit to bringing things full circle , the solutions to your perceived problems become the reflection of your decisions.

 

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton

Reaching goals vs. healing your environment

Having served the health, fitness and wellness industry for 17 years, I’ve seen my fair share of weight loss goals. I used to address it so linearly: diet + exercise = weight loss.

As I’ve matured, I’ve come to understand that sustainable weight loss cannot occur until a healing environment has been created that supports it, including: a growth mindset, well managed stress, healthy relationships and support system, plenty of rest, nourishing diet and an active lifestyle.

As you take the focus off of the goal and place it onto healing the environment, the approach naturally changes and the engagement transcends beyond what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising (as it should).

It’s important to remember that people are not physical bodies with a fitness goal, they’re individuals, led by a mind and driven by a spirit and the approach must reflect that.

Let’s be honest, weight loss is a physical manifestation of an emotional wound and there’s no amount of diet and exercise that can or will ever heal the individual.

Heal the environment m and weight loss (or any goal) will follow.

“I am better off healed than I ever was unbroken.” Beth Moore

Healing strained relationships

As a professional serving the health, fitness and wellness industry, one of the key factors keeping people from reaching their goals (weight loss, posture, energy, etc.) is strained relationships; particularly marriages.

There are three problems within strained relationships: the problem with each individual and the problem with the dynamic between the two.

Traditionally, the focus is placed upon the dynamic between the two, rather than each person becoming accountable to addressing their individual flaws. For this reason, many relationships fail to experience deep healing and perpetuating growth.

For instance, one person may struggle with carrying around a spirit of criticism, while the other may be challenged by people pleasing and when they interact, what you see is the friction that emanates from their individual brokeneness.

I’ve come across a quote recently that inspired this post: I’ll take care of me for you and you take care of you for me.”

In the example above, each party would become responsible for tracing back their wounds and healing them from the inside out. This of course is a process and not an event and therefore; each party agrees to support the other (dynamic) while healing their personal limitations (individual).

Fast forward one year and bring together two people who have worked on their individual needs and you’ll see a much healthier dynamic.

 

“I don’t need you to fix me, I want you to love me while I fix myself.” Ava

 

* Most people don’t consider strained relationships as a roadblock to their wellness goals but we do and we’re committed to developing the whole person and helping them to create an environment that supports their goals. We’ve created an online version of the studio experience we provide that helps people lead the life of courage and bravery they’ve always wanted to live, check out the free trial.

One step forward, two steps back

If you find yourself taking one step forward and two steps back often, there are likely a number of issues going on…

  • Lacking a clearly defined plan, which includes plans B & C
  • Lacking prep time and forecasting setbacks
  • Priorities are scattered, leading to living an urgent life
  • Not learning from failures and repeating mistakes
  • Important conversations are not being managed
  • Lacking love and belief in self, unprepared for what success has to offer
  • There’s something more important than what you’re focused on
  • Operating from a space of fear: anxiety, frustration, disappointment
  • The reliability of what a comfortably dissatisfying lifestyle offers

The best part of taking one step forward and two steps back is there’s a pattern that can be discovered if you’re interested in learning from it.

 

“To understand is to perceive patterns.” Isaiah Berlin

Positioning Others for Success

I’ve been serving the health, fitness and wellness industry for 16 years. Initially, my perspective on helping clients reach their goals was to motivate them, hold them accountable and operate as a source of undying encouragement. Looking back, I can see my heart was in the right place but my approach was flawed in many ways.

Today, as a Lifestyle & Performance Catalyst, instead of motivating, I now inspire. If I light the fire within someone (motivate), it dies quickly. However, when you turn someone towards themselves as their own solution and help them tie their actions to their personal values, they become and remain their own fire starter.

Instead of holding them accountable, I now teach them how to hold themselves accountable to themselves. This took a lot of courage because it required I switch from a model of dependency to independence. Delivering a selfless service sounds great on paper but when your income is tied to people “needing” you, it can be difficult putting them in the drivers seat. Nonetheless, leading with my heart and helping others develop the skill set of self-accountability has only added to their quality of life, as well as my own.

I’m happy to say I was on the right track with encouragement but rather than convincing people to continually raise the bar, I’ve learned to lower it, dramatically. You’d think that by lowering expectations, this would have the reverse effect but I’ve found that when you take the pressure off of someone who already has a demanding lifestyle, it creates the space for them to heal appropriately.

Ironically, when you tweak your approach to position others for success beyond their encounter with you, you transition the relationship from needing you to wanting to stay with you because you’ve placed their needs ahead of your own.

I’ve become so passionate about developing the whole person that I’ve created an online version of the Studio experience we provide called the Revolution. Check out our free trial 🙂

“It’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.” Divergent