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Blog / 2013 / July / 3 Ways Personal Trainers Can Help Combat Obesity
July 16, 2013

3 Ways Personal Trainers Can Help Combat Obesity


With the AMA's recent re-classification of obesity as a "disease"-personal trainers may soon have additional opportunities to provide preventive or wellness services to individuals in order to help reverse rising obesity rates (read more about the AMA's decision in my previous post).

How can you make sure your training tactics help combat obesity? 

1) Listen to your client's voice and body responses  

Trainers always have their "go-to" exercises-what they love for their clients to do. But when you're working with an obese individual, normal routines that you prescribe might not work.

For example, your client might not verbally say they don't like an exercise, or that it's creating pain in a bad way, so pay attention to their facial responses, how they perform the exercise, and if they maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Paying extra close attention to body language is important, especially with clients who choose to communicate less vocally.

2)  Provide incentives for reaching goals

Incentives are very powerful in keeping your client motivated and on the right track. To find out what appropriate incentives will work for your client, make a note of what exercises they enjoy, their barriers to exercise or fitness, and a list of their personal goals. For example, if one of their desires is to work out with their family, consider allowing your client to invite a family member to join a training session (free of charge), after the client reaches a specific weight goal.

Another example of an incentive tied to a specific goal is allowing them to choose an exercise to eliminate from the workout routine and substitute it with an exercise move of their choice. By using this incentive for a future workout, you'll also keep your client looking forward to achieving their goal. This also helps the client feel empowered and important. Be creative and keep incentives appropriate.

3)  Teach your client how to workout

Teaching and learning are critical in a client-trainer relationship. In order for any individual to be successful in the long-term, they must know how to workout when a trainer is not around. Some basic but useful knowledge to empower clients to exercise on their own include the following:

  • Teach them how to design a workout session: how to perform moves properly, as well as how to maintain proper workout intensity.
  • Teach them about different muscles they are working out, and how to combine muscle groups in one exercise session to achieve a more rounded workout.
  • Teach them about utilizing different types of cardio routines or different ways to workout.

Personal trainers should expect a transitionary period of time before physicians' have a trainer referral system in place, as well as allowing the healthcare system to recognize how this could reduce overall health care costs. Share other useful strategies for dealing with obesity from your own experiences in the comments below. 

Julieann Hansen is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Yoga Instructor, Certified ACE Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Spin Instructor, Certified Workplace Wellness Specialist and has her Masters in Public Health. She has been in the fitness and wellness industry for nearly 10 years.

She currently serves on the Exam Development Team for ACSM's Committee on Certification and Registry Boards (CCRB). Julieann writes for a few online magazines and blogs, including Livestrong.com and Patriots Fitness Magazine. Julieann currently works as the Wellness Specialist for Rocky Mountain Health Plans and loves helping employer groups implement their wellness programs. When Julieann isn't working, she loves music, the outdoors, and running.

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