Getting Your Clients To “Buy In” to the System

One question that we often get asked is “how do you deal with the clients that don’t buy in to the system?”  There are two major things that I feel contribute to us hearing this question.

1)   You haven’t bought in yourself

2)   It’s hard for you to explain in ways that clients “get it”

My goal with this article is to give you a few reasons, explanations, and metaphors that will help you and your clients understand why they can’t ‘smash it” on certain exercises.

It’s Temporary – It’s extremely important that after you screen a client, find dysfunction, and tell them there are certain things that they can’t do, that you let them know this is temporary.  Screening and following the FMS Hierarchy will almost always point you to the right place when it comes to corrective strategy.  If this is the case, which means you screened correctly, and chose an appropriate exercise, your corrective strategy should work very quickly. Most cases the corrective strategy should work in as little as one session to a week. If not, you are most likely in the wrong place or using the wrong strategy. If you are having a hard time correcting a movement on the FMS, you may consider dropping down a level in the hierarchy, or referring to an SFMA clinician.

This Road Block Has Been Holding You Back – You have to give them some hope at this point because telling then it’s temporary isn’t going to get them pumped to train with you. Letting them know that you found something that has been holding them back from getting the results they have been working for is a great way to reassure them that the corrective exercises are a good idea.  Basically, let them know that when they remove the roadblock, they will get better results.


Everyone is familiar with hitting a plateau, and dysfunction is major contributor to plateau. Remove the dysfunction and decrease the plateau effect.  Let them know that if they have been “stuck” then corrective exercise can get them “unstuck”, as long as they don’t do anything that will cause them more harm than good.

I like to use the analogy of the detour (thanks Gray) to get this point across.  Explain to them that sometimes when you hit a roadblock you have to take a detour.  What happens when you ignore the detour sign? You usually end up in a car wreck and never get to the destination, the detour may seem like an inconvenience, but the alternative is much worse.

Corrective Exercises Improve Results – I don’t know why everyone thinks you have to do crazy hard exercises to get results.  An easier exercise will always get you much better results than smashing a pattern with a dysfunction. Gray Cook always says that you can’t put fitness on top of dysfunction and he is spot on. When you have a compensatory pattern, the corrective exercise is best for that pattern, so correct the bad and smash the good.

The Parking Brake/Alignment Analogy – I seem to get the point across to most people when I use the car alignment analogy.  Compare the client’s body to a car. Working out with a compensatory movement strategy or dysfunction is like driving a car 100 mph with the parking brake on and a bad alignment.  The corrective exercise is meant to be the hand that removes the parking brake and lets you move the way you were supposed to move.  If you ignore the dysfunction eventually your car will break down. Let them know that the human body gets out of alignment, just like a car, and every once in a while you need a tune up. You as the trainer are the mechanic, and the FMS is your diagnostic tool.


Show Them – Every thought you were doing a movement perfectly and then saw yourself on video and wanted to vomit? I sure have.  Video your clients and to show them what they really look like, and you will get some real buy in, especially when you show the before and after a few days or weeks later.

I’m Getting Better and You Will Also – It’s a rough conversation when you tell a client that they shouldn’t be doing something that YOU had them doing previously. I have no problem at all telling a client that I educate myself everyday, and everyday I get better.  I learn things each day that improve my training which improves their results, and this is one of those things.  Make sure you follow this one up with one of the analogies above to help them better understand.

No Pain = No Gain = Myth – There are so many myths in the training world, and I’m sure you can think of 100. Just like so many other myths, the belief of “no pain = no gain” is a ridiculous. You don’t have to smash yourself to the ground every workout and you sure as hell don’t have to be sore after every workout to get results. Even more important, joint pain is NEVER acceptable. It does no good and could potentially release cortisol, which could wreck your results. Yes intensity is important, and I understand that training hard gets results, but training smart gets much better results when it’s all said and done.


Honestly, I’m not sure why I can get people so pumped to do corrective exercises. It’s probably because I’m pumped about seeing them make huge strides in their training and I know that corrective exercise is a major player in ensuring this happens. I’ve seen it, I know it, and it gets me amped. When you are amped about something, the way you explain it to others will get them amped as well.  I hope the information in this article has gotten you just a little more amped about corrective exercise and red lighting.

Steve Long