By Claudiu Popa, PTS, OAS
As certified personal trainers, we all have our individual notions and even catch phrases that clients associate with the pursuit of fitness. Chances are, you even make a point of repeating some of these at the start of a new session or before delving into a new exercise. If so, keep it up. Sharing your kinesthetic knowledge in bite-size chunks ensures cooperation and increases the chances of a successful client partnership.
Here are three notions you can build upon, that clients are sure to take to heart:
Tip #1. Always Plan for Safety
- a) Visualize: Include cues and reminders to take a moment and imagine the movement before actually doing it.
- b) Modify: No machine is perfect and no exercise is intended to be delivered as-is, out of the box. Make it fit the client, not the other way around.
- c) Breathe: Instill a discipline that will follow clients wherever they go. It’s simple: breathe out on contraction and avoid holding your breath. It’s not just great for safety but also for establishing a controlled pace and performing better overall as well.
Tip #2. Understand Compound Exercises
- a) Flow: Repetitive exercise is boring. Routines are meant to be fun, so go from one exercise to another without the unnecessary pressure of doing a certain number of identical sets on the same equipment.
- b) Recruit: Smoothly engage primary muscles as you point out the change in focus from one movement to the next. As you strategize an elegant workout flow, engage new muscle groups throughout the session.
- c) Engage: Avoiding boredom and plateaus are just two of the benefits of the flow and recruit approach. The smooth progression from one compound movement to the next also helps oxygenate and warm up the muscles and joints for a smarter, more effective workout.
Tip #3. Be your own project
- a) Planning: Many clients do not have a long term vision of their own health and fitness in 10, 20, or 30 years. Remind them to visualize themselves aging actively to 100 and beyond. Medical progress supports the explosive growth in the number of centenarians, so plan accordingly!
- b) Understand: Remind clients that visualization is not just about imagination, but they also need to check their understanding of each exercise and let you know if it doesn’t make sense. This simple action will avoid both disappointment and injury, leading to increased trust in your client relationship.
- c) Change: don’t wait for plateaus to catch up with you and your client. Change exercises around, have fun targeting different areas and recruiting different muscle groups with different movements. Innovate, but always remember to keep things safe (for older adults that means the three ‘S’ rule: stability, support and slow).
If you’re like most personal trainers, this practice is, by now, second nature, but remember to keep your skills up to date and your wits sharp: clients enjoy fresh new tips and look for recommendations they can look up and verify by themselves. So encourage them to do their own research and discuss their findings at your next session. It’s a great way to further cement relationships based on trust and curiosity.