Recently, I spent some time at the Children's Hospital inDetroit, Michigan. What I saw wasamazing and humbling at the same time.The children that were there with the life challenges they face on adaily basis had such a positive attitude. While many of them faced a daily regimen of pain and suffering with thehopes of getting better, they embraced their situation and kept a smile ontheir face. The strength and braverythese children show overwhelmed me with emotion.

Exercise for many of our clients is also a painstakingregimen. Some of our clients train forhealth reasons, some for rehabilitation reasons and some for emotionalreasons. Whatever the reasons ourclients train with us, discouragement can set in, quickly. So, the questions is, how do we keep a smileon our clients faces like the children I met at the hospital?

There were four things the children told me helped them keepthe smile going and optimism high:

  1. Their problems were defined. In many cases the doctors had determined what the problem was. Diagnosing the problem was a first step. Until the diagnosis was in, they didn't know how to treat the patient.

    For our clients, we have to clearly define the need. For example, most of the time when we ask a person what they would like to achieve in their training the answer is "To lose weight." Maybe we probe a little further in to "how much weight do you want to lose," but many times the investigation stops there. We can better serve our clients by properly diagnosing the TRUE reason or motivation of their training. Many times when I probe beyond the weight loss, I find it is not as much about what the scale says as it may be how their clothes fit, increasing energy levels or something more than just to "lose a little weight." Don't be scared to dig and define.

  2. They had faith in their physician. Many of the children at this hospital were not local residents. They were literally from all around the country. They came to Detroit because of the quality of the physician that serviced their problem. They had hope that the best in the business could help them!

    Your clients need to have faith in you as a trainer! They need to know why you are worth the money they pay you. They need to know why you are as good as you say you are. Once they have that trust, they will follow your regimen with respect and diligence.

  3. They were surrounded by encouraging people and a positive atmosphere. I saw the family of these children, while their heart may be breaking inside, they smiled and encouraged their child every day. I was told by the parent, "Sometimes the children get so tired and want to give up. That is not an option. When it gets to that place, you have to encourage them to keep pushing and trying." It was obvious how important encouragement was when even looking at the staff of nurses working with the children.

    Our clients will want to give up at some point, too. Train yourself and the people that work around you to encourage your members. Even if they are not your client, they may need someone to carry them here and there. Be that person, be that trainer, have that kind of club!

  4. Results build promise! One of the kids I spoke to was so encouraged because they were able to go all morning without a breathing treatment. While that seems so small in the grand scheme of things, I was made to understand that even a small victory is still a victory and should be celebrated. The many small victories can become the motivation and courage to fight the big fight when the time comes.

    For our clients, even a small step in the right direction is a step in the right direction! The things we make a big deal over are the things we seem to remember the most. Make a big deal over the things they accomplish in their goals and a minimal deal out of the steps we take backwards. While this ties in to encouragement, that is easier to obtain when accompanied by some results.

While I sincerely would NEVER say what these children andtheir families are going through is equal to what we try to accomplish withpersonal training, I do believe the four basic principles can apply in makingus aware of our clients, their needs and ultimately their results. We all want success for our clients. One of my own personal quotes is this: "Success is found when the WILL to succeed is stronger that the DESIRE toquit!" Thank you to the children andfamilies at Children's Hospital in Detroit for spending time with me andsharing an emotional and personal part of their lives.

Good luck and happy training!

Mike McDaniel is an authority of leadership,goal-setting disciplines, sales strategies and corporate physicalfitness. He has been a professional trainer for over 18 years and ownedtwo health clubs, employing over 75 personal trainers. Mike can bebooked for speaking engagements, sales training or consultant at