“I’m not going to buy anything today.”
That’s how the session started. The trainer had an older client in for a new member complimentary session. My guess was that she was between 78- and 88.
She was 80. Bingo.
My mother would have said the exact same thing. There is a strong fear there that someone, maybe everyone, is trying to take advantage of you. It may be stronger yet for seniors who are widowed and making a lot of decisions on their own that in the past have been handled by someone else. Change and newness of a situation adds to the trepidation they have.
So how do you handle it?
This 80 year old woman wanted only to know how to use the treadmill. Now she does know. But she is also at risk for falling and losing muscle mass and bone density at a fairly rapid rate. Her balance isn’t what it used to be. Does she need weight training? Perhaps even has a higher priority than she needs the treadmill? You bet!
The seed was planted for the trainer however that she was not going to buy.
Listen closely when clients begin with this kind of statement. What they are telling you is, I don’t want to be sold. I don’t know you, I don’t trust you and I sure don’t like you yet. Once I do I might decide to buy, but do not want to be sold anything. Particularly seniors and silents. (more information is available in my book Dollars and Sense of Selling Exercise: Promoting Personal Training with Integrity; Human Kinetics, 2011)
They need to like you and value the relationship they will have with you. Once they like and trust you they may be more willing to expand their ideas of what they need and want.
As a trainer, you would want to say:
I understand, my mother/grandmother would be the same way. I want you to know though that many of our senior members felt that way when they got started but the science says this…resistance training, even just a few key exercises, will increase your strength which will enhance balance and make you more safe- going into winter months here in the midwest that’s particularly important.
I would be irresponsible if as a trainer I didn’t recommend to you as I hope someone would for my own mother, that resistance training is the right thing to do.
Is there someone else who is helping you with your exercise choices? Where did you get the idea that just walking alone would be the right thing to do? or what turned you off to the idea of strength training?
Too often as a trainer the statement by a client that they aren’t going to buy puts you off and stops you from thinking what’s going on. The prospect really is intimidated and under false pretenses. You need to work on breaking down these walls.If you walk away without having talked to them more about the real importance of the components of fitness at their age and stage, you have been nearly negligent!
Spend time trying to understand the values of potential clients outside of your own peer group so that you can better communicate with them.
Seniors and Silents alike value family, relationships, giving back/altruism – so help them by relating to them with respect and keeping this in mind.