The Aerobics Alice doesn't care about form. She wants to look good and feel each workout, but she's not interested in detailed explanations of exercises, workouts, or the physiology behind them. The Aerobics Alice has already been active by taking exercise classes or working out with friends. She'll typically see you as a tool for quicker results and will hold you accountable if she doesn't get them.
A Real-Life Aerobics Alice
Rebecca had been training in our gym for a while before I started to work with her. She had just had her third child in 4 years; her upper body was relatively strong but her legs and core were weak. After speaking with me, she agreed to an initial 5 sessions.
I told Rebecca that I wanted to focus on her posterior chain and rebuild her pelvic floor. After the first 2 sessions, Rebecca mentioned that she wanted the workouts to be faster-paced. I made the mistake of pretending not to hear, and continued training her the same way. But when the initial 5 sessions were up, Rebecca didn't want to continue training with me. I did chat with her when I saw her at the gym, and complimented her when I saw her doing the leg exercises I'd given her.
To my surprise, Rebecca approached me again 2 months later. She said she wanted to train more seriously, but I took a hard stance by only agreeing to train her if she committed to a minimum of sessions. After I laid out my plan, she agreed"”and the results were mind-blowing!
Rebecca had a strong training base and now I had her commitment. In addition, Rebecca was willing to train 6 times a week. I saw her twice a week and made sure that she was following my program the other 4 days. Within a month, Rebecca was accepting compliments left, right, and center concerning her physique. She was now a member of my army.
After she finished her 20 sessions, Rebecca couldn't afford to continue working with me. But she went back to group classes armed with an extensive toolkit of exercise knowledge. As a result, she was able to perform the movements properly in the group exercise classes and maintained her fabulous results. I stayed in touch with Rebecca even after she moved to a different facility. After a year, she returned for another 20 sessions with me for an extra push again.
In retrospect, I could have dealt with Rebecca better. I ignored her early comment instead of taking the time to explain myself. I also should have recognized that Rebecca was inevitably going to return to group exercise after the 20 sessions, and I should have prepared her better. Instead of losing Rebecca as a client for a full year, I may have been able to keep her on an irregular but ongoing basis.
Aerobics Alice Challenges
The Aerobics Alice client forces you to walk a fine line. Focus too much on form and you'll lose her, but focus too little on form and she may get injured. Without proper form, progression is impossible, which makes it hard to improve beyond a certain point. This leaves you in a difficult position.
The Aerobics Alice often has bad habits to address as well. It's not uncommon to re-teach exercises weekly. The Aerobics Alice may also want to work out with friends between sessions, which can make it hard for her to stick to a routine. Therefore workout adherence between sessions may be low.
Aerobics Alice Solutions
There are 2 basic approaches to take with a typical Aerobics Alice client. You may want to recognize that your client will go back to group exercise classes or working out with friends, and prepare her for it. Add some aspects of group exercise into your workouts and focus on proper form, and you may be able to keep the client on an irregular but continuing basis, such as once a week or even once a month.
The second approach is to take a hard-line approach. If you think that Aerobics Alice would benefit more from your training than from what she was previously doing, tell her. Just keep in mind that it's her goals that matter, not yours.
If you do take this approach, it has to be an all-or-nothing conversation. You cannot bend on your opinion of the most effective way to train. If she refuses to buy in after you've extolled the benefits of your system, move on. But I've found that often clients respect the hard-line approach because you have their goals in mind and are holding true to your values as a trainer.