All personal trainers know that a fit and healthy lifestyle is nowhere near limited to the workouts their clients perform in the gym. A healthy lifestyle is an all-encompassing approach to bettering their lifestyle habits and doing so sustainably.
This means to help your clients lose weight in the long run or enjoy better mobility, better recovery, and to feel better internally, it can be helpful to support them with habits and practices that improve their daily life.
When you work with your clients in person, you can always ask them about their week and see if there's anything that's a struggle for them. Online personal trainers might need to be more consistent and structured to encourage their clients to keep track of their habits.
Either way, when you choose online training software to support your hybrid and online clients, it's worth checking that habit tracking is a part of their focus. We, at PT Distinction pride ourselves in having built a habit coaching feature that's fully flexible and customisable.
So, let's discuss 10 essential habits you can include in your coaching to help your clients succeed.
#1. Water IntakeHydration levels can make or break the success of a weight loss journey, but being dehydrated can also inhibit recovery after a challenging workout for clients with any performance goals. Many clients find it challenging to remember to drink enough so helping them build a habit will undoubtedly support their goals.
#2. Logging WorkoutsTeaching clients to log their workouts will help them gain a better idea of the work they're putting in and the results they're getting. You can include measures like reps, sets, weight, time, warm-up and stretch sessions, rest periods and rate of perceived effort.
#3. Food DiaryFood diaries can be essential for clients because tracking what they eat and drink helps them focus on what they're eating, tracking food often helps clients see they aren't eating quite as well as they think they are!
In PT Distinction, your clients can use our built-in food tracking feature or integrate My Fitness Pal. Some clients might only need to get into the habit of improving their adherence to their nutrition plan. They may need to take a photo at every meal without logging all macronutrients to the last gram. Of course, this option is also available to your clients inside their food diary if you use PT Distinction.
#4. SleepHealthy adults are recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night to be able to recover for the following day. That will increase on a day when your client trains hard. Without good sleep, all of the gym and kitchen efforts are subverted. So, adding a sleep tracking habit to their fitness plan can work wonders in supporting their workout and physique goals.
#5. MindfulnessMental clarity and focus are essential when following a healthy lifestyle. It helps clients discipline their urges to eat more than they should and aid adherence to their plan during those groggy mornings. There's emerging evidence and ongoing studies to assess the benefits of mindfulness on mental health.
Still, anecdotal evidence suggests it can help people manage anxiety, depression and stress levels. Professionals recommend engaging in 5-10 minutes of mindfulness per day. This could be a short breathing practice you recommend clients do every morning.
#6. Food PlanningPlanning your food intake for the upcoming week can help clients more easily pivot around indulgences while mainly sticking to their suggested routine. You can add a 30-min food planning habit to your client's weekly routine. That doesn't mean they must avoid eating out or socialising, but if they plan their week and see they'll have a day with more food, they can work out how to design their meals to allow for that. This way, they can prevent food guilt, binge eating and dieting cycles.
#7. Food Prep & CookingFood preparation and batch cooking sessions once or twice a week have become important scheduled tasks for those who lead busy lives. Alternatively cooking an extra portion at supper each evening and taking it for lunch the next day is an easy way to prep meals ahead of time. Clients who want to stop picking up fast food last minute can benefit from this habit. They can use Tupperware or other lunchboxes to store pre-cooked meals for a healthy lunch at work or when out on the move. It doesn't mean all their meals should be out of a box, but having them ready will minimise going off track unnecessarily.
#8. NEAT TrackingNEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which refers to the energy you expend outside of sleeping, eating, or exercising. Sure, your clients track their workouts, but do they add their forty minutes of walking the dog each day? On the other hand, even if a client exercises 3-5 times a week for an hour, they won't make as much progress if they sit at a desk, on a couch or lie in bed for the rest of the week.
Adding habits like "taking the stairs instead of the lift", "walking two stops every day", or "fidgeting while sitting at the desk" might seem like small things but add to the overall activity levels of that client.
#9. Move Every HourSedentary office work was commonplace before remote work came into vogue following the Covid-19 pandemic, but this new normal hasn't helped. It now takes a disciplined mind to stand up every hour, stretch, and undo the damage of sitting via gentle movement.
Encouraging your clients to do this helps them feel more active and alert throughout the day - perhaps helping them feel less tired or lethargic each evening. This may even help them avoid the urge to skip today's post-work exercise. It's lifestyle habits like these that make the most incremental difference.
#10. Eat Till SatietyOur minds are designed to 'get while the getting is good' because, for millennia, our ancestors were never guaranteed where their next meal would come from. This is why trainers need to teach portion control to their weight loss clients. A non-tracking habit that helps clients with portion control is tuning into their sensation of satiety.
If they eat mindfully, chew their food thoroughly and focus on the meal instead of watching TV or working, their body will give them clues when their stomach is full. So, habits like 'eat slowly', 'finish eating when satisfied' and 'don't multitask when eating' will support these clients to take back control of their portions.