Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Taking on New Clients

I’ve been working as a Personal Trainer for over two years now and in that time I’ve worked with more than 100 different clients, some just for the occasional session and some that have been with me for a significant period of time. After that length of time and with that many clients I consider myself quite experienced, I know there’s more out there for me to learn, but that’s the beauty of the way I work, I master my current level and then look for challenging exercises that can take me up to the next level. So far my methodology has worked well for me, I’ve received a lot of good feedback from a lot of satisfied clients.

Despite this, whenever I take on a new client I do have a few nerves. However I consider this to be the same as some actors must suffer on opening night, they know their lines but are fearful they may forget some or mess them up in front of the audience – I know my stuff but what if I get a blank when somebody asks me a question, or like a sportsman anxious before a big game or race – I’m usually able to combat pre-race nerves and I manage to do the same with a new client. I feel that the nerves are telling me that I really care about how my work comes across, I want to be successful by having my clients successfully reach their goals.

The way to ensure that my first session is a success is to make sure I’m properly prepared, I don’t have a stock session that I do for all comers, like some Personal Trainers do, I prefer to tailor each of my sessions to the specific requirements of each specific client. So I try to find out as much about the client before I take them on and then put a little thought into how I’m going to help them to achieve their goal. However it’s not always possible to get all the information before the first session, despite using a form asking various questions about a client’s fitness and previous injuries I’ll sometimes only find out about a previous injury during the session because the client forgot or didn’t consider it to be relevant.   

That first session then becomes the base as I find out what a client’s abilities and limitations are, what weight they can lift or push, how flexible they are, how fit they are and how capable they are with tools of instability. Occasionally I’ve made an assumption that a client is more able than they are, usually when they’ve already been using another Personal Trainer, but I just tone down the session if need be, other times their ability is pretty good for a beginner so I realise I can try some of the more intricate exercises in my repertoire. After that first session I’ll have a good idea of what we can do next time and start thinking about a plan to move that client forward in their training.

I like to keep things interesting for the client by mixing up the exercises across sessions and trying exercises that are new to them, but sometimes the client just isn’t ready for new but tricky exercises so I have to stick to more standardised solutions.

I’ve recently taken on a number of new clients and it’s been quite interesting trying out aspects of routines that are working for existing clients. The mix is good, some need more coaching than others, some need more pushing than others but all in all the feedback I’m getting is that the exercise routines I give them are fun and challenging.

If you read last week’s blog you’ll know that, last week, I pulled my lower back muscles lifting some rubble. It was really annoying, I couldn’t possibly have done that using weights, but in a different environment accidents happen. It’s meant very little exercise for me, in particular no running for more than a week (which I suppose can be counted as a blessing as it’s made me rest my knee niggle). It’s been pretty painful driving to clients but I’ve not yet had to cancel a session. True, I cannot demonstrate abs exercises but I can talk the clients through them. Thankfully in demonstrating kettlebell exercises I realised that they was actually helping to loosen up the back so I’ve been doing kettlebell exercises and some bicep, tricep and shoulder combination endurance lifting to keep me from losing all my muscle tone. No pure aerobic activity, though I did manage 20 minutes on my healthrider today, so I’ll be finding it tough when I get back to running (hopefully tomorrow, but I’m not counting on it).

Two of my marathon clients took part in half marathons over the last two weeks. Rich ran in Liverpool and managed 1:24:11 and Katy ran Wilmslow in 1:43:36. I know Katy was a little disappointed with her result but I pointed out that the temperature, whilst not baking, was significantly warmer than it had been for some time and that she was probably a little bit more dehydrated than she’d realised. It turns out that quite a few people found Wilmslow hard this year. I feel both Rich and Katy are on target for their marathon goals, at least Katy has done her Killer session, Rich is doing his next month.

Written by Roger Alsop

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