Friday, April 1, 2011

Making them understand

There are some challenges surrounding training clients in a commercial gym facility. The music, co-workers, the atmosphere, lack of equipment; the list goes on. With that said, I think one of the biggest issues regarding training in a commercial gym is figuring out how to balance what a client wants vs. what a client needs.

No, this is NOT what you need. Far from it. But, this is what a lot of clients WANT, or think they want. They want a personal trainer to "totally kick their ass" so that they can go to dinner with their friends and talk about the crazy exercises that they did and how sore their triceps are going to be for 6 days. Congrats, you totally pumped up your triceps...but you're still weak and over-weight! Sweet. 

It is much easier for most personal trainers to give in and just crush somebody every time, but that doesn't get results. It is much easier to give someone a "placebo effect" workout that leaves them exhausted but with no real gains than it is to develop a program that will help someone get results even if they only see you twice per week. Mike Boyle wrote his article "Apology letter to Personal Trainers" a few years back regarding this very subject. He discovered, after years of working with athletes, how difficult it was to actually get results from someone you train only 2 hours out of a full week. Trust me, it is difficult. Thankfully, a few of my clients have the financial means to see me 3 or 4 times per week; but even that is tough. 

The toughest thing is when you get a client (majority of them, actually) who has some sort of imbalance that needs correcting. Several of my clients are doctors, and as expected, have various mobility issues from spending years at a desk/bent over a book at work and at med school. Getting someone who sees you once per week to understand why you want to start off the 60 minute session with 20 minutes of foam rolling, dynamic warm-ups and mobility drills is tough. These people want to work work work, which is fantastic, except their work capacity is limited by their physical capacity. 

No matter how much you shine a bar of shit, it will never be gold. You can take a client with bad posture and movement quality and make them stronger and leaner easily. But is that doing them any good? Would you, the trainer, want to be strong and lean but look like Quasimodo? I sure wouldn't. It takes much more guts to sit your client down (just not on the Cybex Chest Press) and tell them that in order to reach their goals, they are going to have to do some things that aren't so sexy. Lets be honest, Scap Wall Slides and Pigeon Pose don't look nearly as cool to the average person as a Walking Lunge with a Bicep Curl to Overhead Press with a Twist, or the "WLWBCTOHPWT". 

Someone performing the "WLWBCTOHPWT"
I agree that, as trainers, we need to respect our clients wishes. But it shouldn't have to be at the expense of their overall health. You should have the guts to sit your client down and tell them what they need to achieve in order to help reach their goals, and the intelligence/information to back it up. You're the professional, after all. 

Now go find something heavy and pick it up.

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