When it comes to exercise, the average personal training client tends to have a fairly narrow comfort zone. They may enjoy a certain machine or type of cardio training, or they may only like strength machines and be intimidated or confused by free weights. As a trainer it is often tempting to give clients the OK to stick with what they know and like. After all, logic tells us that if a person enjoys an activity they will be more likely to do it, right?
Wrong. As soon as your client sets foot in the gym their mindset should go from "Average Joe" to "Athlete-In-Training." Why? Because helping your clients create an athlete's mindset, and incorporating athletic training movements, can help the average exerciser break through plateaus and focus on exercising for the right reasons. Below are four solid reasons why you should train every client like an athlete.
- Improved Coordination. It may seem like athletes are just naturally more coordinated than the rest of us. This is true to a certain extent, but sports performance-based trainers understand that advanced coordination is not just about winning the genetic lottery. Athletes regularly train in ways that enhance coordination, which helps prevent falls and injuries and keeps them nimble and agile. In order to train for coordination, athletes use more complex movements like lateral movement drills. Instead of sticking to steady-state training, like running on a treadmill or elliptical, try getting your clients to move in different directions, lateral shuffles, twists and agility training are all techniques that can improve coordination and benefit any client, young or old.
- Breakthrough Plateaus. Explosive movement is an often-overlooked, yet very effective training technique. Explosive movement keeps the body guessing and adjusting. Explosive exercises like sled pushes and sprint intervals cause the body to adapt on-the-fly. Athletes use these types of exercises to keep their body's guessing and adjusting, so they can maintain high performance in constantly changing scenarios. Teach your clients the same techniques to burn more calories and break through plateaus.
- Lessen the Chance of Injury. Most trainers already know that sitting in a chair all day and then repeating the same old exercisers is a sure fire recipe for injury. Both athletes and desk jockeys benefit from changing up the routine often. Athletes train for stamina, strength, flexibility and speed. This means using non-traditional tools. To train like an athlete, invest in versatile equipment that allows your clients to incorporate multiple moves and modes of exercise. Educate your clients on the importance of flexibility training, strength training and cardio for a well-balanced performance-based training program.
- Valuing Performance over Appearance. The average personal training client is often focused on personal fitness goals such as weight loss and overall appearance. Athletes are focused on improving key fitness indicators such as strength, stamina, flexibility and agility. Athletes are always training for performance rather than appearance. It is this mindset that keeps them moving forward despite setbacks. Athletes are more likely to feel motivated by an increase in performance factors, rather than simply how they look in the mirror. Teaching clients to value athletic gains, rather than focusing on appearance, gives them more reasons to get excited about what they are working for and, in turn, more motivation to keep on going.
Technogym is an ACSM corporate partner and supporter of ACSM's Exercise is Medicine initiative to encourage primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. Founded in 1983, Technogym (www.technogym.com) is the world's leading international supplier of products, services, and solutions in the Wellness and Fitness fields.