Saturday, April 22, 2017

11 Things Every Personal Trainer Should Be Doing For Their Clients

They say one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Unfortunately, when it comes to the personal training business, there’s no shortage of bad apples. And it’s true: they give the rest of us a bad name. To raise the standard and elevate the field, I implore you not to be one of the bad apples. Luckily, doing the 11 things below will put you well on your way to being the Honey Crisp of personal trainers (i.e. the best!).

1. Base the training program on your client's goals.

Personal training isn’t about you or your goals. It’s about the client’s. That’s why it's called PERSONAL training.

For example, just because YOU are a powerlifter, that doesn't mean all your clients wants to squat, bench, and deadlift as heavy as possible. If they just want to "tone up," then by golly your sole job is to help them do it.

Or, just because you think big quads and boulder shoulders are sexy, that doesn't mean every client feels the same way. If your client doesn't want bigger quads and wider shoulders, then keep the quad and shoulder training to a minimum (within reason).

2. Base the training program on your client’s preferences, both likes and dislikes.

Just because you love barbells (or kettlebells or shake weights or whatever) doesn't mean your client has to love them, like them, or even use them at all. Instead, they should use whatever form of external load they are comfortable with and enjoy.

Similarly, a pull-up is a worthwhile endeavor, but if your client has no interest in working towards one, that's perfectly fine. There are plenty of effective alternatives that they will likely find agreeable.

Say your client does love direct arm training. Then freaking give them direct arm training -- even if in your dream fitness universe all anyone would ever do for biceps and triceps are pull-ups, rows, and presses.

Adherence to a training program is far better when the client actually likes the workout.

3. Bring a positive attitude and training environment to every session.

Even if it's your eighth session of a long and stressful day, it's always your client's first and only one. Unless they’re a wackadoo who trains multiple times per day. Even then, though, they’re not paying you to be grumpy, distracted, or anything less than your best.

4. Ask your client how they’re feeling and tweak the program accordingly.

Don’t just stick to a program stubbornly because you invested a bunch of time into it and it looked like the perfect plan on paper. This is real life, and in real life people often need something different from what was planned.

Ask them about their diet, sleep, and stress, too. These are all important pieces to the overall training puzzle. If they feel like crap, go easy on them. There’s no sense kicking them while they’re already down. It accomplishes nothing.

5. Get to know about your client’s life outside the gym.

As unbelievable as it may seem for personal trainers who work a hundred bazillion hours per week, there’s a great big world out there, and our clients live in it.

Learn about what they do for business and for pleasure. Are they married? Do they have kids? What are their names? The more you ask and the more you remember, the more your clients will realize you actually care.

If you have a terrible memory like me, write down what you learned in between sessions.

6. Expose yourself to a wide array of training information, methods, and techniques.

These exposures give you more tools for your training toolbox, for whatever eventuality your client may need. Don't like books? Don't have money for courses? Listen to podcasts. No excuses, bruh -- they're free.

7. Stay up to date on the latest research and integrate it with your field experience (i.e. be evidenced-based).

You don’t have to read research if it’s not your thing. But you should at least keep up with people who do. Be knowledgeable about complementary subjects, too, like habit formation and pain science. In particular, have a working understanding of the biopsychosocial model of pain and its implications for how to talk to your client.

8. Develop a referral network of specialists to send clients to when their needs extend beyond your scope.

Include physical therapists, nutritionists, orthopedists, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. Be honest with yourself and your client regarding the limits of your knowledge and the scope of your practice.

Of course, just because someone is in pain doesn’t mean they have to stop training with you. There are often ways to work around injuries. On the flip side, just because you read Supple Leopard, it doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

9. Speak the client’s language.

Your client probably isn’t going to be impressed by your use of words like “hypertrophy” and “adductor brevis.” In fact, they might be intimidated.

There may be some teachable moments at some point along the way -- especially if your client is interested in learning more about the technical aspects of exercise. But err on the side of simpler terms to stay relatable. Save the shop talk for the break room with your fellow trainers.

10. Teach your clients to fish (metaphorically).

I’ve heard rumors about trainers who withhold information from their clients to keep them coming back. Newsflash: the principles of exercise aren’t top-secret, classified information. (For proof, just look at the archives from the past four years of this blog.) 

Instead of holding back, share everything you know with your clients so that they don’t need you. Make it so they keep training with you because they want to -- not because they need to.

11. Remember that it's always about the client.

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