Antecedence refers to how we prioritize events and actions based on a desired outcome. It is what must come first in order to ensure the effective implementation of everything that follows. For this reason the first question in the Programme Design Questionnaire is not about goals or desired outcomes but is quite strategically “what are your expectations?”
In 2002 Jim Collins and Jerry Porras released the book “Built To Last.”
In the third chapter Collins and Porras shared an insight that formed the perspective of this piece, as well as made it easier to cope with some philosophical dichotomies that were at the root of what seemed to be five years of insomnia.
That insight was centered around what they called “The Tyranny Of The Or” vs. “The Genius Of The And.”
Maslow said that “he who is good with a hammer thinks everything is a nail.” That truism has the potential to permeate every area of life and work as many of us have an aversion to operating in the space of anything resembling incongruence.
Things are for many of us either consciously or unwittingly black or white, traditional or functional, physical or psychological and many other absolute distinctions that exist only in our minds as their boundaries are not so distinct in reality.
The danger of this however is that our identity seems to get intertwined with our methodology. So what we do, our training, philosophy, our biases, rather than what the client needs, seems to take center stage, rendering the client more of a prop than star of the show.
Rather than adopting our systems, sciences and tools to help the client build a bridge from where they are to where they desire to be, we construct a cage confining them to our comfort zone, encouraging them to push their limits, so long as they don’t exceed our own.
For example, the movement around “play.” Adding the element of play to a workout can take an experience that is otherwise unpleasant for many individuals and convert it into an hour of something they want to do rather than have to do. It can enhance the mind, whilst conditioning the body and enlivening the emotions. Play is an effective means of driving adherence as it makes the nature of exercise spontaneous rather than arduous.
How many of our clients need to be encouraged to plan a wedding, a holiday or an evening out, regardless of how much planning and effort goes into it or how little time they have considering their other priorities. They do these things anyway, because it simply feels good, possibly even creates an escape from the things that make them feel bad.
So in the new client-centered perspective play seems to be the most effective way. The question is for who, for what result and why?
Let’s say we have a client who based on their values regarding work, beliefs about their ability and attitude toward exercise holds the conviction that “hard work is in direct correspondence to results.” Therefore, if its fun, it is not effective. Further, like many people we train his goals are not primarily motivated by what he will gain if he reaches his goal but what he will lose if he doesn’t.
So his fear based motivation holds the assumption that a workout must be exactly that, work. If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs we see that after our physiological needs are met, our most eminent need is safety, both physically and psychologically. Safety is synonymous with certainty.
The further divorced a client’s experience is from his or her expectations the greater the potential for fear and anxiety. The greater the potential for fear and anxiety the greater the interference with exercise adherence.
The client’s reasoning about what experience they expect may not be well informed, or even logical but the feelings of fear and anxiety regarding potential failure are tangible and therefore must be a major consideration in the construction of a session.
Regardless of our passion or proclivity, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. In every case the main thing is understanding that a clients past history does effect his or her current reality. We can’t say we are client centred and then define for the client where that center is.
The bottom line is that it’s not our certification, nor education, but client expectation that sets the sessions direction.
The challenge becomes to progressively integrate different training methodologies over time that both are conducive to the goal as well as the client experience, whilst initially establishing a congruency with his expectations that assures him his concerns are heard, understood and adhered to.
Incorporating a variety of methodologies into a client’s programme that are both scientifically rational and experientially viable is a non-negotiable imperative. The art that compliments the science of personal training is to quench the client’s thirst progressively rather than submerge him in an ocean of unfamiliarity.