I was 16. My parents were out of town so I threw a party. Next thing I knew I was in my childhood bedroom -- sitting on my childhood bed. All I remember was staring at the poster of Ken Griffey Jr. on my wall. I felt like I was sweating through my shirt but was paralyzed with self-consciousness and couldn't move my neck to look. She was staring at me and all I wanted was her to look away for one god damn second so I could check my pit stains.

Well this was it. My move. No turning back. In an unprecedented act of courage I ripped off my shirt and you know what???


I'd been working out for 6 months after school 5 days/wk and hadn't seen any real gains -- until now! This was it for me. This was my a-ha moment and there wasn't any turning back.

Ever since then I've been working hard to capture a-ha moments for my clients. The feeling I got when my first girlfriend noticed my body was enough to keep me going. Look where's it's taken me. (Before moving on I want to invite you to add me to Facebook. I have great forums daily on my wall and it's a great place to connect with other passionate professionals)

6-8 weeks

We all know the curve. Neural adaptations happen first and muscle changes start to occur around the 6 week mark. Problem is that most initial packages are 3-5 sessions lasting 1-2 weeks. Unless you can hook the client quick good luck on making it to the 6 week point.

Even if you make it past the 6 week point clients get complacent. Initial strength gains are huge in comparison to gains down the road and it's difficult to keep a client motivated day in and day out for years.

Even if you can keep the client motivated and interested when their gains become smaller in an absolute sense there's an inevitable ebb and flow with the general population client. Some days they'll come in feeling fat, others exhausted, and sometimes angry at the world. It's your job to not only make them feel better but to perform -- And you have 1 hour to do so.

The power of emotion

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't care if my clients lose 10lbs and I don't care if they run a 10k. What I do care about is why they want to do those things:

  • Do they want to lose 10lbs so they can fit into the red dress they wore on the cruise last summer where their husband told them that you looked gorgeous on the deck while drinking red wine (a 2008 Merleau from Spain)?
  • Do they want to run a 10k because their friend ran one last summer and won't shut up about it?

Goals aren't motivation. The emotion behind the goal is motivation -- that's what you need to capture.

What's your ah-ha moments

Think back long and hard to the days where you squatted 2 inches down, did 4 kinds of biceps curls, and performed 3 sets of incline, decline, and flat bench press before jogging for 20 minutes on the treadmill.

Why'd you keep going? I'm positive most of you did it to feel attractive towards the opposite sex. Luckily my team of genius monkeys just finished cranking out all the data from my study and proved me right:

What I want you to do is remember the instance where you knew you'd found your place. Was it something a friend said? Maybe your parents? A girlfriend/boyfriend? Or maybe it was a look you got walking along the beach where she locked her gaze on for that extra second.

Now create that for your client

Strength increases almost immediately, inflammation decreases almost immediately (with minor dietary changes), and mood is elevated immediately with exercise. All of these can lead to a-ha moments if you know what to look for and pay attention to detail.

When your client mentions they feel "good". Don't accept it at face-value. When did they feel good? What were they doing? Who were they with? What were they wearing?

Gather as many details as you can so that you can recreate this feeling later on when the client comes in de-motivated, stressed, or feeling fat.

Paint the Picture

"Remember how you felt in your red dress?"

"Remember how you felt in your red dress on the cruise ship in the Caribbean when your husband told you that you looked beautiful while sipping Spanish Marleau on the deck?"

Which is more effective? In order to use a-ha moments properly you must allow your client to escape back to that moment in time.

1. It's make or break time in a sales meeting after the initial 3 sessions with a new client

They either buy a big package or never come back. Why not start the sales meeting by painting the picture for them? In 3 sessions I'm sure they mentioned that they "felt good" after the workout. Find out what that meant and repeat it before bringing out the packages. It could be as simple as this:

"Remember after the 2nd workout when you said you enjoyed the soreness? You were walking up the stairs to go to bed and your wife laughed because you were dragging your butt. You said that you slept better that night than ever before"

In 3 sentences I reminded the client of the success they had the past week and why it was so important to them. They'd be stupid not to buy a big package and feel that way all the time!

2. You've now been training your client for 6 months. They made huge gains early on

They've reached an aesthetic level that they're comfortable with and feel like they're spinning their wheels. You can tell that they're getting complacent so you paint a picture out of nowhere.

"Remember about a month ago when you told me you went to the mechanic with your daughter? You said you were wearing your brown dress but had done your nails that day. The mechanic walked right up to your daughter thinking she was your Mom and asked her about the car. I was thinking about that the other day."

All of a sudden your client remembers the amazing progress she's made and how good it makes her feel when she's told daily that she looks great. The compliments she gets the next week won't be overlooked anymore.

3. Your days flying by and clients are all doing great

All of a sudden you hear a sound that makes your ears bleed "I feel fat". Not to worry -- you've got just the a-ha moment in your back pocket to deal with it. In this situation I recommend taking the client into an office and closing the door before talking. She needs some TLC while you paint the picture.

"Remember when you went to Lululemon and they took in your pants for free? You said it snowed a ton that day. The women asked you why you needed the pants taken in 2 months after buying them. To which you responded that you lost so much weight they won't stay on -- even with the drawstring. The girl working at the store gave you a high five and offered to do the adjustment for free."

5 minutes of TLC is all it takes to get her zipping through her warmup drills and pushing weights again. She'll leave the gym buzzing with confidence once again.

Always be ready

Emotion drives action. Successes happen often. Recognize those successes and learn every little detail so you can recreate the experience. Keep the a-ha moment in your back pocket -- ready to paint the picture and help your client reconnect when they need it most.