This is an excerpt from Professional's Guide to Small-Group Personal Training, A by Keli Roberts.
Participation in your SGT classes is driven by the client’s experience, so staying centered on their goals helps them not only achieve success, but also assists them in enjoying the process. Meaningful goals ideally provide the framework for that process. Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based goals, or SMART goals, create that framework.
Specific goals need to be quantifiable. Vague statements such as “I want to get in better shape” don’t create enough focus. Instead, have clients write down their specific goals, such as “I want to get fit so I can run a 10K,” or “I want to lose 15 pounds.” A specific goal can also involve improving sleep, decreasing stress levels, or lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Help people narrow their goals to two or three main objectives, then break down the small steps that move toward achievement. For instance, if a 15-pound (6.8 kg) weight loss is the goal, then breaking it into small increments of 1.5 pounds (1 kg) per week will be less daunting and feel more doable.
Goals should be measurable, so that you can track their progress. Measurement can be either subjective or objective. It could be pounds lost, back pain decreased, or even self-esteem improved. Subjective measurable goals are typically centered on feelings, whereas objective goals are more externally measurable, such as being able to run a 5K race.
Attainable goals must be realistic! These goals take into account the individual’s training experience, current level of conditioning, and intensity of their motivation. People frequently have unrealistic ideas of how quickly goals can be attained because magazines and celebrities are constantly selling instant weight-loss supplements or programs that guarantee miracles. Instead, you should help your client set attainable goals through education and clear explanation.
Additionally, a client may decide on a specific and measurable weight-loss goal by committing to an exact number of sessions per week, and then they get a new job that doesn’t allow time for as many sessions as they originally planned. Programs need to have enough structure to promote adherence, but if they are too rigid, they may elicit guilt and feelings of failure. Therefore, to help the individual be successful, goals need to be attainable.
For a client to make significant changes in their lifestyle, like getting more active and joining your SGT classes or committing to modifying their diet, goals have to be relevant to them personally. This is where goal setting needs to be collaborative; it’s not good for you to set the goals if they are not meaningful to your client! To make a commitment to change, the goal must have personal relevance.
Time-based goals should have a deadline. This helps motivate clients to get started and stay focused. Set a long-term goal, then create some short-term stepping-stones to help them be successful. Short-term goals assist clients in seeing progress along the way.