The worst advice on fitness: what not to say


“If I can do it, you can do it.”

You’ve heard this fitness tip. Maybe you even said the words yourself.

(Sheepishly raises her hand).

And it’s time to end this cliché.

Especially when it comes to fitness, nutrition and health.

Because most of the time:

Not true.

Just because you doing something does not mean Somebody else You can do it.

Most importantly, this phrase goes off, which makes people feel worse than before.

Here’s why and the fitness tips you might want to offer.


When we use this fitness advice, we usually have the best of intentions.

Maybe we try to relate to a customer: “Hey, I’ve been there!”

Or maybe we were inspired by a lot of news. Think about it: a blind man climbs Everest.

But there is a problem.

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No two people are exactly alike.

We might, as coaches, think that we compare apples (our life) to apples (our client’s life). But it is more likely than ours the customer knows they are orange… and feels misunderstood and alienated, usually for one (or all) of the following reasons.

# 1: Someone’s background affects their health.

Things like where we were born, how we grew up, and what we do to work shape how we eat, move, and live. They also affect our ability to change for the better.

Technically, these factors are called social determinants of health. And they can influence us positively or negatively.

Some examples of social determinants are:

  • Income
  • Education
  • Job stability
  • Working conditions
  • Access and food security
  • Housing and environment
  • Early childhood development
  • Social community
  • Neighborhood environment
  • Access to affordable and quality healthcare

Social determinants can be month according to the World Health Organization.

It is explained below that this can work with customers.

You tell someone to go to the gym. If you can make the effort to get to the gym on a very busy schedule, so can your client, right?

Well no, not necessarily.

Especially if they work long hours and don’t take care of their children.

Or maybe suggest “more vegetables” to a virtual customer.

You don’t like vegetables either, you say, but you do you you can find a way to eat them, for sure your customer will be able to find out. Except, your customer lives with his mother-in-law who cooks all the main meals, which usually include few vegetables. At your client’s home, everyone thanks the chef, whether they like the food or not.

Does your customer have any options? Sure, but not as many as someone who has more control over the dish.

There are thousands of ways in which the social determinants of health can make what is possible (with a lot of work) impossible (or much more difficult) for another person. Some social determinants of health are really hard to recognize, especially if you haven’t walked into that person’s skin. So keep in mind this universal rule: don’t make assumptions.

# 2: Each person’s body is unique.

Suppose you and your client have the same social circumstances.

It’s okay to say “if I can do it, can you do it?”

Spoiler alert: no.

Because genetics also plays a role.

Let’s say you’re a person who puts on muscle easily. For you, maintaining an athletic, lean physique means working hard in the gym and keeping a close eye on your nutrition.

Of course, these two things require effort. Maybe a lot of effort.

But a person who has more difficulty building muscle and who tends to store fat in the center thanks to their genes?

They will not get the same results as you, even if they eat and exercise in exactly the same way. These are the genetic cards that have been handed out to them.

So nothey can’t “do it” just so you can.

# 3: Some people are luckier than others.

Most people who have worked hard to get where they are do not want to admit that the universe would have helped them a little.

Imagine: You are an athlete competing in CrossFit games.

The final workout (which decides who will win) goes on to focus on deadlift, which you are very good at. (If they had been snatched away, it would have been a totally different situation).

When you win the CrossFit Games after that final workout, it doesn’t mean you haven’t worked hard. But did you also benefit from the luck of the draw? Yes.

Perhaps a more relevant example: You may have met a coach or friend, just as you are ready to make a change, which revolutionizes your way of thinking about nutrition and fitness. And that paves the way for a healthier lifestyle.

In an alternate universe, where you didn’t meet that amazing coach at the right time, it might have taken you much longer to get to where you are today.

The point: don’t discount the “right place, right time” effect.

3 best ways to help your customers

Use all three together or choose the one that works best in a given conversation.

1. Use a limited relationship.

Suppose someone is divorcing and their coach has gone through it too. It might be tempting to offer advice such as:

“I know this is a difficult time for you. My divorce was brutal! But I managed to keep up to date on my diet as I went through mine, so I know you can do it. “


There is a better way to use the experiences you have in common with a customer, without making assumptions about their situation.

Is called limited relativity, which helps you relate, while allowing your customer to feel heard and understood.

To master the technique, use this simple two-step formula.

Share your experience: “I know what [fill in the blank] I think “.
Be curious about your customer experience by asking an open question: How do you like it? “

Translated into a real-life coaching conversation, you can say something like this:

“It simply came to our notice then. When I had trouble eating bluntly, I felt so helpless and frustrated. Which are you do you feel right now? “

2. Notice and name the bright spot.

This strategy is about taking a moment to appreciate and applaud what your customer has just shared.

You could say:

“You know what? In fact, it takes a pretty amazing self-awareness to identify and recognize that this is a barrier for you right now. How does it feel to understand your situation so firmly?”

Or maybe:

“We can talk about problem solving in a second, but before I do that, I want to pause and tell you that it’s amazing that you pointed this out as a problem. I don’t know if you could have done it six months ago! “

This can be very effective because the customer does not expect to take a break. They are waiting for ways to move forward. Give them a moment to stop, take stock, and reflect on their fantasy before acting.

3. Inspire them with their own achievements.

Let’s say your client is afraid of the idea of ​​closing earlier to sleep more.

Instead of this old “if I can do it, you can do it” tip, try to highlight your past accomplishments. It might look like:

“You know what? In fact, you told me exactly the same thing a couple of months ago about going to the gym. And now you go there regularly! We can talk about specific strategies to make it more feasible to go to bed earlier, but we also remember how far you have arrived ”.

Basically, instead of saying “if I can do it, you can do it,” you say, “if you can do this, you can do the other thing!”

You are showing them that you see their hard work.

And most importantly, because of this hard work, believe in them.

When you use the above strategies with your customers, you will accomplish something that the phrase “If I can do it, you can do it too,” can’t:

You will help them feel heard, seen and valued.

This will go a long way in strengthening your relationship and will ultimately help your customers get better results.

If you are a coach or want to be …

Learning to train clients, patients, friends or family through healthy eating and lifestyle changes, in a way that is personalized to their body, preferences and circumstances, is both an art and a science.

If you want to learn more about both things, keep that in mind Precision nutrition level 1 certification.

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