Susan is a 30-something-year-old female who reached out to me about a weight loss goal. Her goal was to lose 50 pounds in 60 to 90 days. We didn’t end up working together, but she was okay with me checking in on her progress. When I did – her healthy lifestyle is “non-existent.”
Case studies are used across multiple disciplines. However, when it comes to business, they are typically used for marketing. Case studies show how a product or service has been implemented with a customer, successfully.
Since I learn more from my failures than my successes, I’m not going to follow the typical playbook. Or say, “Look how I helped this person. I can help you too!”
In the case of Susan, she’s helped me stop giving out tips and focus more on building trust.
By reading this, I’m hoping you will learn how to get the most out of asking a professional for help.
Play the Fool (this time)
It was clear that Susan was focused when she reached out to me :
“Hi, Ambrose! How u doing??? I need some advice.”
“I have given myself 2-3 months to drop the baby weight that I have been carrying around for 6 years now. I’m totally a high energy person, and when I have a goal, I am a focused individual. So there is no lack of willpower over here, but I need guidance…”
Susan was aware this was going to take a lifestyle change. She even told me, “50 pounds is not just vanity weight.”
Then she made this most common mistake when asking for help: thinking she knows what she needs.
“I‘m asking, specifically, for some arm and ab workouts (those are my problem areas). What would you recommend I do on a daily basis?”
At this point, I wasn’t able to recommend anything, yet.
When you reach out to a professional…it could be an accountant, barber, or a carpenter, the first thing they need to do is measure.
Think about it: If you want an accountant to help you manage your weight, they are going to ask for your expenses, revenue, and (previous) tax returns.
Old carpenters say: “Measure twice, cut once.”
This is the difference between the master craftsman and the weekend handyman. It’s also the difference between a professional coach and an amateur trainer.
Susan went on to tell me more about her goals and her own, subjective, measurements:
“Diet-related, I’m looking to decrease my mass as quickly as possible. I am not afraid of ‘losing muscle’ because I am really built sturdy and very healthy (solid). I need some advice on the best way to eat to melt this fat off. I’m down, even if I have to start with incorporating a liquid diet, fast or cleanse..?”
There’s a lot to unpack here, so I will only focus on the most clarifying aspect of this passage: she wants immediate results; There is nothing wrong with that but I’ll touch on this point later.
And she went on, closing the message, “Thanks Ambrose for any tips!!!”
Tips are for the service industry. Bartenders, musicians, and…well… strippers.
If you are looking to work with a professional, don’t go looking for suggestions. Instead, play the fool.
You don’t have to be smart when you ask for help. While you may think you know what your goals are, it’s the professional’s job to help you get there.
When you finally build up enough courage to…get your money right, rock that new hairstyle, or remodel your kitchen – let the professionals do their job.
After reading that, I sent her a link to my online assessment form, which she filled out immediately.
Once I was able to review her more detailed responses to questions about her health history, current situation, and goals, we set up a phone call.
Susan wasn’t able to afford my the investment of my regular coaching program, but I knew that before we got on the phone. I clearly ask people:
“How much are you willing to invest in your health and fitness goals?”
So when we got on the phone, I was ready to direct her to a couple of articles about nutrition and a few free apps for workouts she mentioned needing.
What do you think happened (initially)?
I made it a point to follow her for the next 30 days( here and there) and she was going in strong.
But, just recently I sent Susan a message:
“Hey Susan, How’s the healthy lifestyle change?”
“God takes care of fools and babies.”
I’m not getting religious here, just using this familiar Bible scripture, carried out hilariously in every Saturday morning cartoon or funny in the newspaper, you have ever witnessed.
When someone cannot take care of oneself, others will help them.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Even still, I feel the average person looking to lose weight thinks they have to play it smart when they talk to a trainer. Did you see the terminology Susan used?
- “…there is no lack of willpower over here.”
- “50 pounds [is] not just vanity weight.”
- “I’m looking to decrease my mass…”
From an amateur’s eye, it may seem she knew a little about psychology, general health, and body composition. And I’m not saying she doesn’t. It’s clear she does.
What am I asking:
Why do you think Susan reached out to me for help?
She mentioned both “advice” and “guidance.” Both of these are music to a coach’s ear. Susan was on track.
In one word: trust.
She didn’t think what she was doing was good enough. Her past experience led her to try something different. That’s when she reached out.
Why does anyone talk to a professional? For advice and guidance? Perhaps. When I reach out to a professional, I’m looking for results. And I’m paying them to help me get them.
If you are telling your trainer what you need them to do: you better have deep pockets and a great personality.
Trainers will let you hire them and them what to do – if you pay a lot of money for it. But that doesn’t last long.
I’ll gladly take a coachable client for half the rate of a bossy client any day.
So next time you reach out to a professional play the baby or the fool – they may just take care of you.
Understand the Tools of the Trade
Unfortunately, my barber D-Tuck, moved to Arizona recently, sending me back on the hunt for a new one.
Me: “Does anyone here cut black people’s hair?”
Admin: “I’m sorry, no.”
I finally found a shop, not too far from my house and set up an appointment. After 30 seconds in the chair, I knew something was wrong.
I have a fro-hawk. It’s a mix between an afro and a mohawk. You can’t brush it or comb it. I “pick” my hair. And so did my barber D-Tuck.
This guy didn’t…
He didn’t have the tools of the trade.
I’m not a barber, but I am aware of the tools of the trade. Needless to say, I found a new guy, “Dookey the Barber” (another story for another time).
When it comes to personal trainers and nutrition coaches, our intake process or consultation, some trainers call it a “free session,” I call it my online coaching application form, is the primary tool of our trade.
Note: if a trainer doesn’t consult (assess) you before you train with them – find another trainer.
It’s one of the four-part systems I use at MISPIBO Fitness:
Your Assessment Is The First Measurement
Remember what old carpenters say: “Measure twice, cut once.”
In the case of Susan, and most of my online coaching clients, I them to:
- Contact me (through my website here)
- Fill out my Online Coaching Application Form
- Schedule a free Coaching Call with me
Each part of this process gives me valuable information that I need to help people.
- I get email and phone information from my website so I can contact people
- I better understand my client’s goals and budget
- My client’s clearly addressing what’s limiting them (sometimes for the first time ever)
It’s then and only then can I begin to give someone “tips” about how they can go about reaching their goals.
When I came to Susan, I sent her the best thing I have when someone can’t prioritize the investment to work with me, yet:
(no worries guys – I got you covered too)
My Takeaways from Susan
This case study has been centered around the first part of my four-part process: the assessment. Assessments aren’t popular because they are preliminary to any training. Most trainers are trained to give a free personal-training session as their consultation.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work.
At best, someone (medically capable) shows up for a workout, enjoys it, and signs up to continue training. At worst, you get no-showed or you end/begin a client-trainer relationship on a bad foundation.
There are many assessments. They can be used for various reasons. Assessments help me:
- Establish criteria for who I can and can’t work with
- Determine whether I can help a client and how to refer them
- Shape the direction of my advice
- Get an objective baseline data that I can see back to how progress (or lack thereof) over time
- Provide my client with an accurate picture of how well or poorly they have been doing before reaching out to me. It’s straightforward but honest. Recording measurements makes people look at areas they need to improvement
As I said in the beginning, this isn’t the typical case study.
I don’t expect anyone to read this and hire me.
In this article, I showcased the usual journey from initial contact to follow-up (with a client who didn’t hire me). My goal is to shed light one crucial aspect when asking for help: surrender what you think you know and go through the process.
If you come to someone, in this context, a personal trainer, with a list of all the things you think you know you should be doing, what are you really asking for?
- Someone, to hold you accountable?
- Motivate you?
- Make you do it?
While some people would say “yes,” I’d argue you are asking for trust. Here’s the critical thing about trust: there can only be real trust between people.
You don’t trust a diet. You can’t trust a workout plan. And you definitely should never trust a tip. Exercise and nutrition plans are just rules.
What’s your trainer’s rule when someone offers you a beer at the bbq? Or what about the rule when your kid wants to get some ice cream?
Rules only work when they exist in a bubble. Humans don’t live in bubbles. We are built to interact with other people. That’s why you can’t trust tips. Trust only happens between people.
When you reach out to a professional for help, you have begun the first of many reciprocal steps in the human experience of trust.
After that point, it’s my responsibility (or the professional) to:
- Teach you the rules
- Train you until rules become habits
- Then let you go when you are confident enough to do it yourself
What you can learn from Susan
- Seek guidance because you will struggle and whatever advice or tips you got won’t mean jack
- Be clear about your timeline. I couldn’t recommend anyone try to 50 pounds in two or 3 months. Secondly, a 60-day and 90-day plan are two entirely different approaches.
- It’s tough to spot train when you have a considerable amount of weight to lose. Focusing on compound movements (not arm and ab workouts) is more efficient.
- Losing weight quickly is hard. It’s hard to get the weight off. And it’s even harder to keep it off. I’m not saying you should not have this goal – but you have to realize what you are setting yourself up for.
- Perhaps the biggest thing you can take away from Susan is that she had the courage to reach to ask for help.
If started out the year feeling focused, but now find your motivation non-existent: contact me.
I offer all new clients a free consultation – click here.
And if you are already a client, I’m sure I trusted you enough to give you my cell. Hit me up! I’m sure we can work something out.
But seriously, I hope you enjoyed this…I’m going to try to use more real examples, from clients, to help illustrate the relationship between coach and client over the next few weeks.
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