Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learn How to Shove, Shock, and Give Structure to Your Clients

I think the most difficult aspect of training for a client to really understand is patience.  In general, most people don't have enough of it. However, when it comes to following an exercise program to reach a certain goal, most people do not have a clear perception of time. For instance, most women think that "big, bulky muscles" will develop overnight, and most overweight people believe that 10 pounds of extra fat will disappear within a week. There is no accurate perception of time and consideration for effort when most individuals visualize success. It seems to be a revolving door of "past self"---"new self". Whereas, most people don't consider what's in between the "--". 

Here is a story of my client Raf. Raf is a young man who aspires to be seemingly muscular with a more healthy looking weight. Bottom line, Raf wants to be more muscular and feel more confident about himself. Typically, I find that the client looking for muscle gain are easier to train; yet they need more support and encouragement because they are trying to achieve a goal that is the opposite of what exercise is popularized for. People tend to link exercise with overweight individuals that need to drop unwanted pounds. Small, lean folks just need to eat, right? Wrong.

However, the goal of gaining weight is perceived as easy by the opposing group. Gaining lean body mass is actually not as easy as everyone wants to make it out to be. Raf was a skinny guy that tried P90X, joined a gym, and read alot of fitness magazines to help him gain weight.


Although he did make some initial gains with P90X, they were lost due to a cessation of training caused by an illness. Once Raf had recovered from his illness, he was ready to try again and pack on some muscular pounds. But guess what? He had tried all the videos from the P90X series and already knew what to expect from each one. He wasn't motivated and he needed a shove, a shock and some structure.

Believe it or not, but Raf drove 40 minutes to train at IZZO Strength twice a week. His strength program began with alot of core work including planks, side planks, and hip/glute bridges. Then we moved on to some conditioning work to increase his stamina. The conditioning work in the beginning really helped me to find out how hard Raf was willing to work to get to where he wants to be. He questioned me at times and grew aggravated other times because he was just not able to make sense of all this "different" type of training I had him set up on. When Raf grew impatient and volatile, I knew he needed more structure--so we added another workout to our week.

On a side note, I think it is hard to invest your time, energy, and trust into something when it  is in your life intermittently. It's like starting a relationship with a girl and only seeing her once per week. Doesn't seem like it is worth it in the beginning and leaves you unsure. I could see this in my client and I knew I needed to provide him with more "face time". Emails and texting helped build the structure he needed to continue with this program. 
The 2 sessions per week helped. Why? It made my client more adherent to the program and allowed him to "buy into" my structure. P90X is not motivating when you watch it a second time. I compare it to watching a movie and already knowing the end. It doesn't captivate, draw, or engage you. It's important to capture, draw, and engage clients--especially when they are trying to put on mass. Telling them "to just eat" is not enough. A sound program supported by structure is ideal.

This is Raf about 6 weeks later.
Learn How to Shove - If you have a client that has followed a program before--more importantly a popular program--it's time to differentiate your tools from what they are already familiar with. This doesn't mean venture into parts unknown--stay with what you know. Knock their socks off with intergrated sets of compound exercises and performance-based drills. If the progression is correct, this is a sure-fire way to help them reach their goal.

Learn How to Shock - Don't let your client already know what's on the day's agenda as they walk into the gym. When your client already knows what to expect,  this is a sign that you are losing your creativity and putting in less and less effort into the programming. The client may find the program becoming stagnate and monotonous. Find a way to make the program challenging, enjoyable, and progressive.

Learn How to Structure - Planning ahead is not enough. When I speak of structure, I speak of creating  an environment that positions you [the trainer] as the lead resource. "Out of sight, out of mind" has always been a thought-provoking phrase in my head. And it holds true. Be the "go to" guy for your client and make yourself accessible. Sending occasional texts, emails, or calls is a perfect way to keep you in their mind and keep them in the game.

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