Trainers & Teachers, Are You Tricking Your Clients Into Relying On You?

It's an uncomfortable question: are you inadvertently instilling dependence in your clients?

Is your work a trail of breadcrumbs that always leads back to you?

Or do you actually empower them to make significant changes in their lives?

I was on a walk with a client this morning, and we got to talking about the context of movement.

What is the context of movement?  Well, to put it in perspective...

There are two main causes of tension and dysfunction in most people's lives: 

  1. They are living out of alignment with their species, a step removed from the natural behaviors and environments of the human animal.  This contextual mismatch leads to predictable consequences like tight hips, poorly organized spines, and overall poor quality of movement.
  2. They are living out of alignment with themselves, not fully engaged with their work, their relationships, and their world.  This leads to equally predictable consequences such as elevated stress levels, lack of connection, and psychophysiological tension.

If you want to truly help someone improve their movement--and their life--you owe it to them to address both factors.  If you address one without the other, you leave massive opportunities for improvement on the table.

As I was walking with this client, the question we were puzzling over was this:

How do you factor the ups-and-downs of life into a movement practice to make it sustainable?

It goes without saying that you can only spend so much time with each client each week. 

You can do a lot of good in that time, but keep in mind: they have 23 other hours in the day, and it's the things they do outside of their sessions with you that will have the most impact on how they feel and function.

Are you helping them address those habits and behaviors?  Are you giving them the tools to really change how they live their lives?  Or are you--quite literally--just going through the motions with them?

This is a crucial distinction.

We need to equip them to be better stewards of their bodies.  This involves a number of factors:

  • Assessing current capacity.
  • Educating them as to how their bodies really work.
  • Helping them develop movement practices to address specific limitations.

But we also need to equip them to be better stewards of their lives, which play a very real role in how they move, and this includes:

  • Bringing awareness to lifestyle factors that influence their ability.
  • Facilitating a change in the habits that led to their dysfunction in the first place.
  • Helping them understand self-care as a life practice, rather than an item on the "to-do" list

The root of service

It's unfortunate that so many trainers and teachers do little more than session-to-session movement.  They don't take steps to help their clients really change their context of movement.

And look, I know it's difficult. 

I know it isn't easy. 

I know that there are only so many hours in a day, and now I'm asking you to do more.

But serving your clients means working your ass off to make yourself irrelevant.

It means showing them how they can take control of their circumstances.

It means putting them back in charge of their progress.

If you aren't equipping your clients to be better stewards of themselves, you're doing a disservice.  If you aren't empowering them to create their own practices within the context of their lives, then what are you doing?

I hope this is a no-brainer for you. 

I hope this article is irrelevant and that you keep on kicking ass (perhaps with the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of validation that you're on the right track).

But I also know there are a number of trainers and teachers who will be triggered by this.  

There are a number who will say I'm overstepping my bounds.

To them I say:

Hi.  This is for you.  This is a wakeup call that movement exists within context.

Addressing that context is the only way to make a meaningful change.

And it's up to you to ensure that your clients have what it takes.