Fitness requires ongoing education and experience.
Personal trainers never stop learning. We have a passion for fitness and people, but it is our incessant hunger for more information and ways to practically apply it with our clients that sets us all up for success.
So, how does a one get started in becoming a personal trainer?
First, we have that blood-pumping passion for health and fitness. Some of us come from very unhealthy backgrounds like Jeremiah, who lost 70 pounds on his own before becoming a trainer. We have transformed our own bodies and lives with the adoption of health and fitness practices. Some of us were natural born athletes who have never known anything other than tending to our physical health and capabilities. We all caught the same passion bug and decided to do something with it. Science is changing and we are constantly learning how to refine our skills.
Secondly, we decide to commit to learning. We study human physiology to understand how our flesh-machines actually function from the inside out. Kinesiology, the study of the mechanics of body movement, is how we come to comprehend how the body should and needs to move. It isn’t enough to simply try an exercise, the body has to be taught how to perform it through various efforts. As trainers, we must be proficient in performing movements and in cueing clients. Cues are given verbally, kinesthetically, and visually because everybody and every body learns differently. Personal training is an art in the way we communicate and influence clients for their best benefit.
Working with other fitness professionals is invaluable. Fitness trainers read research studies, experiment with training techniques on ourselves, and subscribe to the industry greats. However, talking shop and hitting the floor with others in our field is not easily replaced by books. Your body is not a text book so the practical application is essential.
A little cue goes a long way.
Good verbal cues are delivered with few words. We need to provide a few concise words that convey the message clearly and effectively. Otherwise, we information overload you! “Sit back and down as if you’re sitting in a bucket.” Most can probably visualize this quite easily. “Drive your hips back and then bend at the knees to lower your body but keep your hips back so you don’t allow your knees to trail too far over your toes.” Say what?!? Both sentences are accurate ways to explain how to perform a squat but one is way more to think about and interpret. Here is an example of fully explaining the movement with consistent cues. When a client performs the movement, a trainer can use the few concise cues used in the explanation.
Good kinesthetic cues are those that immediately remind your body of something. You’ll see us place our hand between a client’s shoulder blades (always with permission) to physically remind their body to retract, or squeeze, their shoulder blades while doing a compound row. We are selective with touch-cues because we need them to be impactful and precise. Want a simple technique for teaching your body how to hip hinge properly? Put a fist on the back of your head and on your tailbone.
Good visual cues are as good to the eyes as a finger-snap to the ears. Your trainer may draw their shoulders back while your at the top of your RDL to remind you to keep your upper back engaged. Don’t worry, we won’t twirl our pointer finger to get clients to roll over, but the concept is truly the same and it works!
I’d bet that most trainers could recall a specific moment that they over-cued a client. I cringe just thinking about a few examples in my career. Over-cueing can lead to information-overload, frustration, and disappointment for the client. The way we set people up to succeed is by delivering exactly what they need exactly when they need it. More is not always better – better is better!
When you stop learning, you stop growing!
Our team recently held our first Training Development Workshop of 2021. There is always something to learn from how to cue more effectively to how to implement different training strategies for particular goal sets.
We discuss new science. What is the latest research and how do we explain to you the best and most proven way to lose body fat? New research does not always mean a better way of doing things but it is important to be aware of what is being studied and discovered. Misunderstood information is dangerous information. We are aware of new fads and trends being presented and help to set the record straight for well-intentioned but misinformed people.
We talk about you! Personal training is about more than just the human body, it’s about the human experience! We all have external factors we must work with when implementing a fitness regiment. If we want it to be effective anyway! You’re busy. The kids have practice and you had to work late. Your allergies are bad and vacation is next week. The boss told you your hours are changing next week and guess what, the car broke down! This is real life and we discuss different real-life client scenarios and how we navigate the sometimes muddy waters of life to keep you on track and healthfully balanced.
We workout! Yep, we practice what we preach. Gathering to roundtable about movement patterns and how to progress, regress, modify and implement them into different program designs is excellent time spent. It allows us to troubleshoot imbalances and mechanical breakdowns we often see. We role-play scenarios of client and trainer between questions asked and how we can best and most articulately explain what is needed.