Learning never stops! Personal trainers should always continue to learn and study the science and ‘art’ of personal training. We take Continuing Education Courses and listen to health podcasts on our commutes. You’ll see personal trainers reading related books while doing their cardio and, oh yeah, you’ll see us working with other fitness coaches, too!
The best way for you to progress fitness is to be as specific to your needs as possible. A personal trainer will develop your fitness and nutrition strategy and is always ready to modify and adjust as needed. Training is based on science…but there’s way more to it than that! And we learn and learn and learn.
Scientific Knowledge & Practical Application
Not all personal trainers get 4-year degrees in Kinesiology or Physiology but it is one way we get started. There are various certifications that range from college-level-curriculum to more condensed certifications. The key is that we acquire knowledge continuously through study and practical application. A key word here is “practical”. Your body is not a text book and your life is not a 1-page case study.
Human anatomy with muscle origin and insertion is super cool to us as personal trainers because, well, we geek out over it! Conjugate, undulating, linear periodizations, oh my! For this post purposes and from the basic level, the brain speaks to the muscles and step one is to understand and be able to develop that connection. Let’s practice. Can you squeeze one muscle at a time?
But wait…there’s more! Professional fitness coaches are also aware and interested in human psychology. If we have any shot at getting a person to adhere to a program, we have to understand a bit more about how the human brain thinks and processes information. Since our average client isn’t getting paid to reach a higher fitness level, we have to be practical and logical about our approach.
Our Performance Fitness Training team joined at Platinum Fitness for a training workshop recently and a chewed on strategies for how and when we update programs. Phases or blocks of programming is not completely dictated by fitness progress though it is the baseline. Check out this video of our team talking about programming updates.
Organization & Time Management
You already got a taste of how trainers program, when we update, and why we make changes. Some trainers write all over client program logs, some keep spreadsheets, and others may set calendar reminders for program updates. It’s part of good organization and time management.
Note taking systems for subjective information like sleep quality, stress levels, and upcoming events help fitness trainers to assess needs and be prepared for anything. A professional trainer will be completely focused on the individual client during a session and that goes for every client.
Trainers’ punctuality for start and end times shows respect and care for each client.
Our trainers provide so much extra value than just the actual session because we are adamant on teaching and prescribing additional work that people can and should do on their own. How do we know what they will do on their own? We use fitness questionnaires at the start and are continuously communicating. We cram a lot into our time with clients but are also careful to not ‘information overload’ by being intentional and appropriately selective.
Scheduling clients out for sessions to reserve spots weeks in advance is a tactic we take to ensure every client is properly cared for.
Clients and trainers alike should avoid the idea of scheduling one session at a time. Why? Because this process requires consistency and scheduling in advance sets us up to program for it, plan for it, and even increase the likelihood of adherence! Makeup sessions are used strategically in our world. After all, we’re in the business of efficiently using your time and energy for optimal results. Vacation in March? We plan ahead for how we’ll use that missed week of sessions with you. We use the ‘extra’ time to incorporate new movements, get into nutrition coaching, incorporate metabolic conditioning drills. Oh yes, we’re creative and strategic.
This should go without saying. A good personal trainer must be likeable. Aside from pro athletes, most people who work with trainers wouldn’t show up for the second session if they don’t like their trainer. Some personal trainers are super charismatic and high energy. Other trainers are more calm and reserved. Both dispositions are great as long as they can immediately connect with a client; make them feel safe, be trusted, and be fun to be around!
Mental flexibility and self-awareness are crucial for personal trainers. Trainers are people, too. We have our own thoughts, emotions, biases, preferences but these should all only matter for one reason – how can we best serve. Self-awareness is an important skill for anyone to have, but when you’re working with people 1-on-1 you have to have it. It could be the difference between a client being successful or not. And mores0, the trainer.
Okay, vulnerable story time! Performance Fitness Training had a scenario on our team when client and trainer’s personalities clashed. It doesn’t happen often at all but it does happen sometimes. The trainer tried to will it better but it simply was what it was. The team worked to get the client with a new primary trainer. Our job is to help clients get results so if a personality clash is the barrier, we break it down and get the client what they need.
(The aforementioned trainer may or may not be the one who wrote this post????)
Empathy is another learnable skill and one all fitness coaches need to continuously work on.
We practice the ability to put ourselves in a client’s shoes. How are they thinking, feeling, behaving. Why might they be thinking, feeling, and behaving that way? A person who feels heard and understood is more inclined to communicate. That being said, trainers are in the result-getting business and can’t let empathy derail the mission. By this I mean being overly empathetic to the enabling point. We may have to have heart-to-heart conversations but a client can trust that their trainer has empathy and focus.
On another note, ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ are not always synonymous in our world. A client may need to lose weight but not want to do the best thing for them. So, we have to dance with them. The best way our trainer’s learn how to walk the line of what a person needs and wants with what they want and are willing to do, is by sharing client stories. Here is a short clip from our recent workshop talking about this very subject.
Communication – the key to all good relationships! Cueing happens to be a love language for a personal trainer.
Teaching movements with clear, concise, and few (3-5 usually) is vital when trying to get a client’s brain and body to understand and perform. Every person learns differently and the same is true when it comes to exercise. We use verbal, demonstrative, and kinesthetic cues in varying degrees with various clients. Learning how to cue well is a great challenge for many trainers but a necessary asset.
Verbal cues are what we say and how we say it. Demonstrative cues are for the visual learners. Kinesthetically inclined clients need our hand on their shoulder blades to feel it where they want to. We may compare two movements to help a client understand. We’ll get you into your own body with cues as well. Which way do you learn best?
However, communication goes beyond cueing exercises and into everything else we do. Our job is to wear the hat the client needs us to wear. Some clients need that tough-love push, others need the hand-hold and constant affirmations. One thing all clients need is for a personal trainer to be an effective communicator.
- The smartest, highest-degreed, and fit looking trainer will be no good to a client if they can not design programs the client can and will adhere to.
- We’re creative and strategic! Our gears are always turning on how to best help our clients – programming, scheduling, communication, cueing.
- We must be able to put ourselves in our client’s shoes while remaining close to ours. We will be of no service if we cannot.
- Communication is key for us to understand how you need to learn and practice makes perfect.