So a little truth coming your way today…

The Positivity Trap: How upbeat coaches can kill your results

Using positive language with my clients all the time may seem like an essential part of my job.

The reality? It can make them fail. and i can’t do it…. ITS FAKE!

Think about how most trainers sound when working with clients.

Do they say things like:

“You’re only one workout away from a good mood!”
“You’re not gonna get the ass you want by sitting on it!”
“You’ll get a lot more compliments for working out than you will for sleeping in!”

This is what Many health and fitness coaches think that always being positive, upbeat, inspiring, and ass-kicking is part of the job.

Encouraging language is what’s required to motivate clients through tough times and nudge them toward big success, right?

Actually, no.

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Blindly spewing positivity in the midst of the suckiness of lifestyle change doesn’t show that you’re awesome and motivating.

In fact I’ve come to realise, it suggests you don’t care. Your not really listening or getting your clients issues at all!

It shows that you don’t hear your clients, you don’t see them, and you don’t understand what they’re struggling.

It sounds kinda crazy, me telling you this but…

Too much positive talk is bad for you.

There’s certainly a place for positivity in coaching and I’m the first to pat you on the back when you deserve it.

I want all my clients to feel that i believe in them.

I can help them visualise success, or even point out the next steps they can take. All of that can be motivating.

But when your not feeling all sunshine-and-rainbows, it’s okay to share that with me too. Rock on with your rainbows that shit aint the real world.

But effective coaching for my type of clients (mainly those that want to lose weigh and build up their confidence having failed my times over) also requires me to sense in and learn to see when you are struggling!

This means paying attention. Observe carefully. Attune.

I Know my clients’ cues. I listen to them. And understand their current state of mind.

Because you might not think it but you need your pain.

In most fitness and health coaching situations, we’re working with people who are in the midst of lifestyle upheaval.

That takes a lot of work. It also comes with a lot of ups and downs. Which are all completely normal. I want you to hear me say…. that its fine. I get them to!

You deserve the opportunity to “feel” the lows.

In fact — this is important;  you may need those low moments in order to make progress. Its not always up, up, up!!!

Most change comes from responding to pain. We usually don’t change until the pain of not changing gets too strong to be ignored.

For me thats the people who get the results fast! its got that bad they can’t get take it anymore.

In other words, we need that pain.

Pain is a signal to pay attention, get present, and check in.

And from a coaching perspective, clients need people to be with them in that pain… but not necessarily trying to push them out of it too quickly.

Lets just say you lose 5 on your first week. Yes its good but you have only started and you’ve 56lbs to go..

I tell you your great, I’m posting on Facebook, I’m istagraming your text showing 5 lbs in a week…

Your mind starts telling you you deserve that chocolate cake for a treat

Your mind then tells you you’ve ruined it all now as 4lb of the 5lbs are back on

Your mind says i can’t face the gym today I’ve wasted all my effort so far

…..and finally you can’t go back as your to embarrassed to show you’ve FAILED again 🙁

Ive learned if i want my clients to follow you to the finish line, i have to be able to support them in dark times.

You have to let them be real.

For that, they have to see that you really get them, and that you truly empathise with how hard it can be to keep going.

When someone is struggling, the knee-jerk tendency to act like everything is happy-happy, joy-joy doesn’t communicate compassion at all.

It communicates that you’re not really paying attention.
Too much positivity isn’t real.

As a coach, thinking you have to be positive and inspiring all the time not only drags clients down — it can actually de-motivate them.

Imagine: You’re a client having a “fat day”. (Or a “scrawny day”. Or an “I’m so out of shape day”. Or your shoulder hurts again. Or that chocolate croissant you ate is sitting in your gut like a brick.


You arrive at the gym to greet your coach — Mr. Perfect or Ms. Invincible, who ignores your emotional state and gets in your face with rah-rah let’s-go-team!!


You think:
Not only do I suck at this and fail miserably, but my coach is a perfect model of positivity. S/he has bulletproof abs and an awesome life and a perma-smile. S/he can’t even begin to relate to how hard this is for me. I’ll never be like that.

Or worse:
My coach doesn’t understand me. I’m just another client.

And once you as a client start feeling that way, here’s what happens.
Activate operation “Give up”…
followed by “Eat more cookies and ice cream to soothe pain of giving up”…
and, finally, “Burn down the houses of all the positive people I know, starting with my annoying trainer.”

Hope this shows i totally get were your at!!

Chat soon

Chris Bradley

(the trainer who doesn’t pretend its rainbows and unicorns every day)

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