Sometimes the Best Advice is What Not to Do
By Claudiu Popa, PTS, OAS
Every fitness professional takes pride in fine tuning expert advice and making to-do lists for discerning clients to follow in a bid to improve, as effectively as possible. From exercise techniques to nutritional strategies, Personal Trainers are valued, trusted advisors whose continued success rests on their ability to deliver that value with each and every session.
That value is most evident not when you are in the client’s presence, but when they are left to their own devices, perhaps visiting a new gym or trying out a new exercise. How many times have you heard a client say “I was going to do this but I thought about what you would say”? If so, you can feel good about having empowered your client to think independently, and perhaps even adopt a kinesthetic feel that will serve them well into the future.
The best way to do this is to establish triggers with each activity, exercise or piece of equipment, but the reality is that there are fewer ways to do things correctly while there seems to be a near-infinity of options for improper execution. However, with your trusted advisor hat firmly on, boost the client’s confidence with a few simple notions they can take with them anywhere, anytime. Remind them that:
- It’s more important to avoid certain wrong (and potentially unsafe) movements rather than to focus on absolutely perfect execution.
- If a piece of equipment feels awkward, it is likely to be ineffective, so exclude it from the client’s program and offer an exercise modification instead.
- Assisted bodyweight exercises are not always what they seem. If the natural movement is hindered by the assist, the exercise’s positive outcome can be negated.
- Don’t be influenced by what other people are doing at the gym. Many of them have no idea what body parts are being exercised and would have trouble even describing their intended objectives.
- Finally, DON’T forget to visualize, DON’T forget to exhale on contraction, and DON’T ever lose control of the movement.
These simple “don’ts” have lasting power and will resonate with clients long after your session is over, but you will continue to get credit for their positive outcomes. Remaining top-of-mind, without being present, is perhaps the best compliment a professional can ever get, especially as it translates into warm referrals and positive recommendations. So go ahead: let your clients know exactly what not to do and reap the benefits of that advice well into the future.