Helping Your Clients Through Injuries

Helping Your Clients Through Injuries

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The other day, a friend of mine told me an interesting story. She’s no athlete, but for 2014 she made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. She starting running three days a week and she joined a gym. Against all odds, she stuck with her resolution, and ten months into it she looks great and says she feels better than she ever has. Except for her ankle. About three months after she launched her new workout routine, my friend twisted her ankle, and it’s never been quite the same.
I asked her how she manages to stay committed to an exercise program even with an injury. Wasn’t she tempted just to quit? This is where the interesting story comes in: She was tempted to quit, my friend said. She was on the verge of doing so. But the staff at her gym encouraged and supported her so much that she felt she couldn’t.
Shocking, isn’t it? But it shouldn’t be. This is how it should work. After my friend left the ER months and months ago, she headed straight to her gym. She had reserved a spot in a spin class for that morning, and she couldn’t imagine not going through with the class (even though her doctor had told her to keep her foot up and rest). By the time she reached the front desk, though, my friend broke down—her ankle clearly hurt too much for a spin class that day. My friend feared it hurt too much to allow for exercise ever again, and, through tears, told the front desk staff she wanted to cancel her membership. The receptionist came around from behind the desk and gave my friend a hug. She listened to the problem, and then walked her down the hall to the office of the gym’s Fitness Concierge.
The concierge told her to relax. “She said it was okay to miss a class. She said it was no big deal. Then she made me tea and handed me a chocolate chip cookie. She claimed it was a healthy version of the standard recipe, but she said it with a wink, and then I realized that it’s okay to miss class for a day, or even a week. It’s okay to eat a cookie if it makes you feel better. Because of her words and kindness, a great rush of relief went through me and I could think clearly again. Somehow, I needed her permission to not be a perfect exerciser.” The concierge also pulled over a chair so my friend could put her foot up, told her she could stay there in her office for as long as she liked, and started cracking jokes. “Soon she had me laughing about people falling over during aerobics classes,” my friend said. She squeezed her in for a consultation with a personal trainer who had experience dealing with injuries and with a physical therapist. The trainer gave her tips for adapting her workout. The physical therapist showed her simple stretches she could do to speed up her recovery.
I love this story. I love that my friend’s gym offered immediate, personalized comfort and care—and that it was true for everyone from the front desk staff to the physical therapist. I actually called her gym and asked for a tour, even though I’m fond of my own facility; I’m considering switching now. How are things at your facility? Does your staff know how to help clients handle injuries? Can they reassure an injured client and help him or her figure out how to push ahead with workout goals safely? Can they offer something we don’t usually expect from places of business—a bit of mothering? These things could go a long way toward boosting member retention and gaining new clients. Maybe it’s time to gather everyone together for a lesson on sympathetic responses.

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