In this weeks 10 Minutes of Fitness James FitzGerald and Micheal Pilhofer discuss body fat, its history, common misconceptions, and how to broach the subject with your clients. You can watch the full episode for yourself here.
James begins this conversation by exposing a core truth in the fitness industry today, “our current perceptions of body fat are largely biased based on our exposure to only the fittest people via social media”. Because of this talking to clients about their body fat can be a sensitive subject, it is one that requires transparency and often times reeducation for clients. Most of the images seen in modern media are not realistic or achievable. But, before we dive into the best ways to talk to clients about body fat we must trace the history of how we got here.
Before the modern era body fat was an indicator of prosperity. In a time where food was scarce having excess body fat meant that you possessed enough wealth to support your gluttony. As time went on and society progressed the tides turned and eventually having less body fat became the new status symbol. While originally based in health, this new trend swung hard in the opposite direction of gluttony and now falls in an area closer to sickness than health. This change has made unhealthy eating habits commonplace and has construed your client’s perception of what ‘healthy’ actually is.
As James states in this episode, the first misconception about body fat is the societal ‘ideal’ body fat percentage is actually to low. “Your clients only get worked up [about their body fat] because society has taught them what the ‘ideal’ body fat percentage is, but that ideal isn’t actually healthy. [This metric] gives them paranoia for no reason.” Not only is the current ideal body fat percentage too low but the idea that being healthy means you are losing fat isn’t necessarily true either.
“Your clients could be nailing their basic lifestyle guidelines, and their total health measures could be skyrocketing, but they might not be losing body fat, this doesn’t mean they are unhealthy” adds James.
(Coach’s Resource: Learn James’ basic lifestyle guidelines, his starting point for every client, in this free coaching course.)
James recommends coaches do three things when they broach the subject of body fat with their clients.
1) Educate your clients on the variability in the measures
While technology has come a long way there is still variability when it comes to measuring body fat. James recommends educating clients on this variability and what causes it (such as water consumption, sleep, etc) so they can break their attachment with the percentage.
2) Teach your clients the OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines
James educates all of his clients on the OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines but especially those who are determined to change their body composition. These simple changes focus on what clients can do naturally to reduce stress on their body and increase their overall health measures.
3) Ask Your Client What Their Ideal Health Looks Like
The third thing James recommends is asking your client what their ideal health looks like. From here you and your client can start working backward and eliminating things that do not align with their ideal health. Ironically most client’s “ideals” don’t require a certain body fat percentage.
While the current societal norm of body fat causes more paranoia than good, it creates an opportunity for coaches to make an impact. As coaches, we have the opportunity through our consultations with clients to educate them on what “healthy” really means. Seize this opportunity and learn how to educate clients through the consultation with The Free Coach’s Toolkit. Sign up today, and learn how to spread your message through your consultations.