Why why why? – Keeping the 'conscientious' style happy. DISC [article] 5
“Hi there, sorry to keep you waiting. I’m Amanda – your personal trainer. You must be John? You’re nice and early!” I smiled warmly.
“Hi, the girl I spoke to last time said to get here 5 minutes before our session, so I didn’t think I was early?” John replied, returning my handshake.
“Oh well, nice and organised then!” I said, wondering who in their right mind would be early for a 6am session. I led John through to the consultation room.
We got down to business right away. John didn’t seem to be into general chit chat and getting to know each other. Instead he focused intently on the form, and as we worked our way through it, I could see it was very precisely filled out, with quite a bit of detail.
All John’s medical and injury history was catalogued and time lined, including how many months of treatment he had for past injuries, the name and dosage of any medications he was on, and his latest blood pressure and cholesterol readings from the doctor. He seemed intent on following the format of the form exactly, and tried to bring me back on track if I started talking about a topic out of order (who was conducting this screening?!).
John asked a lot of questions regarding the process we were going to follow. He wanted to know what fitness testing we were going to do, what those results would mean and what kind of program I was going to write. He also wanted to know all the options regarding price – no chance for an emotional sales pitch here! When I did question John on how often he would like to train with me, he asked why he would need to see me regularly, as once I had shown him the program and taken him through it thoroughly, he would know exactly what to do until it was time for our re-test and a new program.
Upon finishing the session, I gave John my client information sheet on how to prepare for each session, what to bring each time he came in, my cancellation and payment policies and a training agreement to sign. As I anxiously glanced at the clock – our time was almost up, he settled back into his chair and began to read through them all. After a few more questions regarding some of the fine print, we had a plan. John knew exactly when, and for how long his next session was going to be, what he needed to bring and what we were going to do.
As I waved him goodbye, I felt drained. It was a lot of questions for 6am. As I headed to the coffee machine, I contemplated how I was going to program most effectively for John – who was obviously a high ‘C’ DISC style.
John was all about structure and organisation. He was very logical, and had an amazing head for facts and figures. After our fitness testing session, he poured over the numbers, and when I produced a graph of his heart rates, I swear he almost squealed with delight. C’s love following procedure exactly, so I made sure John’s program was as detailed as it could be. He could follow it exactly for 6 weeks, it had specific notes about when and how to progress the exercises, and it even had a section where he could record all the stats from each session.
When I showed John through all of his exercises, I made sure I took my time, so that John had time to process what we were doing and then ask me any questions about technique or the science behind what we were doing. I’m sure by the time we were through his program, he knew almost as much as I did about anatomy and physiology!
Once John felt confident that he knew exactly what to do, he headed off to do the program on his own for 6 weeks (he didn’t feel that 4 weeks was long enough for him to really get it right), and then we would meet up again to re-test and make any necessary changes.
John liked to get things exactly right, which meant he was a bit of a perfectionist. Whilst usually I would have loved this in a client – perfect technique is a goal we all have as trainers, it did mean our sessions had the tendency to take longer than expected. I was constantly stressed by the end of each session as we had spent so long on the earlier exercises that we had limited time for the final few. John didn’t like this as he needed time to understand each one, so I learnt to make our programs a little shorter than I did with other clients.
John also wanted a lot of detail, but only on the task at hand. Being more an I-S myself, I found this slightly tedious at times, and even a little insensitive. I mean – didn’t he want to talk about his feelings, hear about my weekend, or just generally get to know each other? Apparently not! Also, his constant questioning of my programming (“why would we do this exercise?” why is it important to work at this heart rate?”) could seem a little critical, and I constantly had to remind myself that he wasn’t questioning my ability as a trainer, he just genuinely wanted to know why!
To have all the answers…
Personal Trainers need to understand what makes their client tick. With John, a DISC style quite different to my own, I found I had to change my behaviour quite dramatically in our sessions. I had to slow down everything I said and did, and really focus on the details of the task at hand. I found that I was really well prepared for all of our sessions (along with being ready 5 minutes early), and I developed some great fitness testing systems and graphs. Without John I probably never would have seen the beauty of numbers, or the motivational effect they can have on people who are ‘that way inclined’. Learning to win over the ‘C’ style client was my biggest DISC challenge – but now I can talk just as enthusiastically about heart rate data as I can about my weekend.