Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Projection: Or how to show your clients that you're not listening to a damn thing they're saying

I can't remember the exact year, but I remember wading through LA traffic to get downtown to the Convention Center for a meeting with my mentor, Gray Cook. When I'd arrived, we sat down for a quick bite at the eatery on the ground floor, where he introduced me to a Scotsman named Alwyn Cosgrove, saying "Our meeting can wait. I want you to listen to this guy."

Gray & I sat in the back of the room, and Cosgrove started to work his magic. Speaking with incredible charisma and the kind of easy confidence that only rock-solid experience can bring you, he started to explain how fitness trainers are oftentimes their worst enemies.

Cosgrove explained that there are some trainers who come into the field & think they know it all already because of their past as a competitive athlete. He shrugged them off from the get-go, saying that many of them would just perpetuate the injuries they were given as kids onto the next unwitting group of people that became their clientele.

On the other hand, another group are people who come into fitness training from whatever background and are hungry to learn more to improve themselves. Those people, he explained, were also often guilty of being their own worst enemies. They hear about some awesome training method that falls in line with their aspirations or their area of curiosity, and they hammer all of their clients with whatever it is that they've just learned or been exposed to. Those trainers, too, were also sabotaging their business reputations by projecting their personal fitness goals onto their clients.

He went on to illustrate it with a particularly memorable analogy that went something like this, occasionally slipping into his native Scottish accent...


Let's say you're a recovering bodybuilder and you just got out of an awesome presentation on hypertrophy. One of your clients is a 50-year-old mum who just had her third child and just wants to lose the baby weight and be able to keep up with her other two kids. Tell me exactly why the f*** would you write a "heavy arms day" into her program. D'ya think she's gonna go up to the other mums after school, flex her biceps & go "Hey! Check this $h!# out!"?

Or do you think it's more likely that she's going to get discouraged after a while of you hammering her with workouts that make her feel sore for days and inadequate and then quit coming to you for training?

So you have to ask yourself this... Are you training your clients like YOU want to be trained? Or are you training your clients to help them meet and then exceed their goals? If you're doing the first of the two, you're not listening to a damn thing your clients said to you. You're projecting what YOU want for YOURSELF onto them. And while it might be well-intentioned, you're being your own worst enemy.


My recall of the exact wording of Cosgrove's presentation is grossly inadequate, but the analogy, the profanity (which left the entire room cracking up and Gray Cook grumbling "How come women clap and laugh when he does that $h!t and they complain when I do it?"), and the essence of his message are spot-on.

If you're in the fitness field, it's a damn good idea to ask yourself with frequency whether you're training your clients in ways that excite, inspire, energize, and empower them towards their goals, OR are you projecting your training goals onto someone else and living vicariously through them while they're the ones paying for it?

Remember: Raw enthusiasm is no substitute for intelligent awareness.

If you're a fitness professional and this DVD hasn't made it onto your radar, grab it. When you've got Gray Cook, Dr. Lee Burton, & Alwyn Cosgrove teaming up to guide your programming to a streamlined process, you can't go wrong!

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