Your client took time off and it was more than they intended, one week turned into two, two weeks turned into a month and all the progress they had made went out the window, or did it?  

It isn’t uncommon to take a little downtime from your fitness routine; there are many benefits to taking time off. When the motivation to get back into a routine doesn’t happen as quickly, that time off may seem as though it just wasn’t worth it. How can you help your client see the benefits of starting again and remotivating?  

There is no perfect answer for your client, any nudge in the right direction is helpful, so start simple with a short-term goal.

Walking after Time Off

Advise your client to walk 20 minutes a day.

That’s it. Walk 20 minutes 7 days a week, if possible. It may sound overtly simple but if your client can take a month or more off from exercise, that walk may be all they need to get started again. Educate them on how 20 minutes can have a tremendous effect on their mental and physical well-being just by elevating their heart rate, as well as contributing to overall calorie expenditure and heart health.

Your client may have forgotten that small changes lead to bigger challenges and how that 20-minute walk may turn into more activity. If taking time for 20 minutes a day just isn’t realistic–no problem and no excuse–let them know they can break that 140 minutes a week up in whatever way works for them. It’s the cumulative effective of activity that is most important.

Here are some options:

  • 10 minutes twice a day
  • park farthest distance of a parking lot from its entrance
  • vacuum the house
  • schedule time on the calendar
  • take longer walks fewer days per week

The benefits of getting started with walking can get that spark back for your client and on to more success.  Set the goal at two weeks and have your client track their progress so they can see what a short-term goal looks like and then decide together if they are ready for more.

Your client crushed their short-term goal and the motivation is starting to show signs of life. You recommended 20-minute walks and in doing so they noticed a change in their weight, their energy and even in sleeping. All your clients successes were proof that small goals have positive outcomes and they are now ready for more.

Nutrition Tips after Time Off from Exercise

As a personal trainer you want to avoid asking clients too much too soon. Nutrition is no exception. Clients can often forget what a major role balanced eating plays in their progress, so including this as a next step is important. Keeping these tips simple, but effective will move them along while continuing to see progress. Remind your client, not every step forward needs to be life-altering. In fact the less-is-more theory when getting back into being healthy is likely to have better, lasting results.  

A few tips that are always winners:

  • drink enough water or more of it
  • educate on portion sizes
  • have them write down “not so” healthy foods they enjoy and give them similar but perhaps healthier options
  • recommend a nutrition app
  • encourage having at least one healthy meal a day

All tips can be included on a small or larger goal scale; work with your client to find the right balance and what is attainable.  

Getting your client back on track and remotivated has many variables. Bringing in the physical and nutritional aspects are a must but what about getting their groove back means drawling new boundaries too? 


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There is a reason your client took time off which could be personal, but what if what they were doing to become healthier wasn’t falling in line with their lifestyle and environment? Friends and family perhaps weren’t on the same path and it was putting pressure on an already challenging situation. 

Encourage your client to set healthy, reasonable boundaries so the pressures of the outside do not hinder their progress. After all, a boundary marks limits to how far your client will allow their goals to take a back seat. It is good to remind them of this by giving examples of healthy boundaries such as:  

  • make health first priority
  • encourage friends and family to join the journey, or at the very least, support it
  • be direct in communications about lifestyle changes with friends, family, and co-workers
  • serve as an example of healthy lifestyle changes
  • make a list to check off daily priorities
  • say “no” when appropriate and in your best interest to do so

The details of each boundary may be personal to your client, how they go about enforcing those boundaries is ultimately up to them.  Making sure they include this aspect in the big picture will encourage confidence when the support they need is not readily available.  They in turn will support their own goals and the confidence they gain from that will be worth it!

Taking measured time off or a deloading week may have its place in programming to discourage burnout, encourage recovery, and avoid plateaus. The job of educating your client on how to overcome lengthy “time outs’’ can keep your client seeing fitness as a lifestyle as opposed to an on again off again activity that can be put to the side. Always encourage your client with some downtime to include the simple walks, fun nutritional goals, and practicing the boundaries they set in place.  Set your client up for a lifetime of fitness success!

Keleigh Hall

Keleigh Hall is a NFPT Certified Personal Trainer, NFPT Sports Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist and holds an additional certificate in Core training. Keleigh has over 20 years of experience in the fitness industry to include specialty training as well with Total Gym/Gravity Group and Gravity one-on-one, Spartan Instructor training, as well as TRX training. Keleigh is also Founder/Owner of Hallway Fitness with College Education to include: Associates in Health and Fitness Education at Gulf Coast College/ Business Management at University of Phoenix

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