We’ve all experienced this: the camper who is gung-ho when she signs up for bootcamp, attends every session for a few weeks and then…*POOF* falls off the face of the earth.
When that happens, what do you do?
- Shoot her a text or email letting her know that you miss her and would love to see her back
- Send a note in the mail telling her you’re thinking of her and value her as a camper
- Call her to check in on her, maybe getting voice mail and maybe reaching her, asking her if there’s anything she needs to get back on track
All are common protocol, and all are valid in their own ways.
But could we be doing MORE? And do we need to go DEEPER?
This year, I have been working with an amazing Business Coach by the name of Greg Faxon to help me build and grow my business. One of the big changes he’s brought into my business is to have me conduct in-depth conversations with both prospective clients and current clients to help them delve into what may be holding them back with their health and fitness, and propose strategies to help them fix these problems. These conversations have not only been powerful for both myself and the person I’m talking to, but they have been eye opening and game-changing when it comes to how I can help my current clients overcome struggles and get back on track.
Here are a few things I’ve learned that are changing how I approach the “missing camper” issue when it comes up:
The Problem is Not What You Think
When a camper stops coming to camp, we have all sorts of assumptions as to why this is happening. The Rolodex of “Excuses” can vary from the camper’s life getting too busy to the camper just being lazy. But the truth is that you don’t know the problem unless you talk to your camper and get to the root of it.
Just telling your camper that you miss her and would love to see her back does not address the root of WHY she’s not coming. If she was excited and now isn’t – there is likely something deeper preventing her from coming. Maybe she has experienced a major emotional upheaval, or feels intimidated by the workouts and has been afraid to open up. Whatever the case, if you can find out why, you can take the first steps to help her come back.
Some examples of questions you can ask include:
“If there is one problem in your life that you can solve that would help get you back to your workouts, what would that be?”
“Is there something in your life that has changed that is causing you to not come to the workouts?”
The more you can get your camper to talk about why she hasn’t been present, the better you’ll be able to help her.
The more you can get your camper to open up to you, the more you can get to the root of the problem. This will also help you build greater trust with your camper. Let your camper talk and continue to ask more questions to encourage your camper to talk more. An easy follow-up question you can ask is, “What else?” Eventually your camper will tell you when there is nothing else.
And don’t be afraid of a little silence.
It’s human nature to try to fill silent moments. But it’s those uncomfortable silences that get your camper to open up even more. So if you ask a question and get silence on the other end…just let it sit for a second. Chances are your camper will start talking. If someone is going to fill the silence, let it be your camper. That’s when the deeper reveals start happening.
Eliminate the Shame Spiral
There is often a sequence of events that happens when someone starts and eventually stops a workout program:
- Anticipation before starting
- Enthusiasm at the beginning
- Frustration as some workouts get skipped
- Feeling of failure when workouts stop entirely
Sometimes, the hardest thing for people to do is to remove the feelings of shame and failure that come with dropping off of something they know they should be doing. As trainers, WE know how easy it can be to just get right back on that horse – but our campers may not intrinsically understand that. So it’s important to empathize with our campers when they are at the place where they are being tough on or feel like they’ve failed themselves. Be a sympathetic and understanding ear, while helping to encourage them to be nice to themselves when they’ve missed a workout or two so they can more easily come back sooner.
The art of being nice to yourself takes practice for many, so be willing to be a guide to help them work on this often difficult but incredibly important habit.
Simplify the Solution
The problem is most likely far more complicated than the solution.
If your camper is overwhelmed and is having a difficult time integrating workouts into her life, perhaps the simple act of writing her workouts into her day planner can help reduce the stress she’s experiencing.
Maybe this particular camper can benefit from a wake-up text from you in the morning.
Sometimes it all comes down to suggesting your camper set a hard bedtime at the end of each night. That simple act can possibly help your camper improve stress levels, eat better and get to your workouts more often.
Whatever you can do to help make the solution simple and do-able for your camper, the more likely your camper will respond positively.
And if you do suggest a habit-based solution, check with your camper about how realistic it is that she will actually do it.
For example, if you recommend writing workouts into her day planner for the next month, ask her the following question:
“On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to do this?”
If you get anything less than a 9, tweak the solution to make it even simpler. Suggest she write them down for just the next two weeks, or write them down and post in an easy-to-see place like the refrigerator. Keep tweaking until your camper responds with the highest degree of confidence. Not only are you helping to set your camper up for success, but it shows that you are truly listening and doing your best to help her very specific issue.
The More You Give, The More You Get
Sure, all of this seems like significantly more work than shooting your missing camper a text. But the more you can connect with your campers on a very real level like this, the more they will respond to you on a very real level.
These types conversations will allow you to stand out from the standard gym or fitness class, and will help solidify your relationships with your campers and keep them attending your workouts for the long-term.