Here’s the scene.
You’re at the studio teaching and finishing up a session with your client. The session ends with you and your client discussing a muscle imbalance that was worked on during the session. You describe a few specific exercises and stretches that will help improve this imbalance and recommend your client practice them at home. You’ve given them homework!
Fast-forward 2-3 weeks, and you’re in the middle of another session with that same client. The imbalance appears again and you ask the client if he/she has been practicing the moves that you suggested. What do they say? They look away and mumble a little “no, not really.” They’ve been busy. Or they forgot.
As instructors, we know that since most clients are with us only 2-3 hours a week, doing some form of exercise outside of their studio sessions is essential for developing and maintaining a healthy, fit body. Additionally, learning how to move and exercise in a mindful way takes practice. So the more we can get clients to practice moving this way, the greater success they will have in our studios and with their overall wellbeing. And that means happy clients that keep coming back to our studios for the long run!
But just like kids in school, our clients often fail to set aside enough time to do their homework outside of class. It’s understandable. Life is busy and our clients have so many other responsibilities to take care of. So is it a lost cause? Not at all. Our clients probably won’t ever practice their exercises at home EVERY day they aren’t in the studio, but just getting them to move even a little bit more than they do today is a victory for everyone! So since school is back in session, now is the perfect time to figure out how we can better encourage and enable our clients to do their homework! Here are 3 ways we can help:
- Give them resources and tools to help at home. It’s tough for clients to remember what to do simply from a few verbal instructions you give them at the studio so give them some at-home material to help. Create a homework sheet with photos and basic instructions on how to do your most frequently prescribed at-home moves. Or create a short video and post to a public site like YouTube so they can watch you demonstrate the moves and follow along with ease.
- Help them practice in the studio. If you feel a client would benefit from doing 3-4 exercises or stretches at-home, then end each session with those moves. The repetition and practice will help their muscle-memory and make it easier for them to imitate the practice at home.
- Encourage and reward them for completing their homework. Ask them to track or submit ‘proof’ of their at-home workouts (i.e. worksheets or photos) and set a goal with a reward for achieving it. Yes this will be based on the honor system but our clients are trustworthy! And no need to do this ongoing. Just run a monthly program once in a while to help clients develop their good homework habits.