Planning and preparing clients for personal training

After a client has been through their initial consultation and appraisal the trainer can prepare for the first fitness session.

The client’s objectives, health, current fitness level and lifestyle can all influence the nature of the exercise programme, including the physical and technical demands, the choice of activities and the exercise environment. The programme must be tailored to the the clients needs and objectives but still cover the main areas of physical development, such as:

– Cardiovascular fitness.

– Muscular fitness.

– Flexibility

– Motor skills.

– Core stability.

Areas of major focus, such as client goals that have been agreed between the trainer and client, should be reflected in the programme by allocating appropriate time, volume and intensity to each activity. The choice of exercises should also be right for the client’s capabilities and objectives.

The exercise environment, and the equipment and recourses available to the trainer, determine the potential scope of exercise and training. A skilled personal trainer is able to improvise safely and choose the most appropriate exercises and recourses for their clients’ needs from the available options.

It is important when the trainer prepares the programme plans and the exercise environment before starting an exercise session with the client.

– The programme card must be prepared so that the trainer can discuss the physical and technical demands of the session content with the client at the start, explaining how they meet the clients needs and goals. Any negotiated changes for accommodating the client’s readiness and preferences need to be noted and recorded in full after the session.

– The environment must be prepared to ensure it is safe and ready to use and that all the equipment required is available. Preparing the exercise environment entails ensuring the necessary equipment is safe and devising alternative strategies in case it is unavailable.

Preparing the client for personal training:

A client should be made to feel welcome and at ease at the outset. The personal trainer should spend the first session familiarising them with the exercise and training environment and identifying the areas and equipment that they are going to use. The early stages of the working relationship should be used to build rapport and gauge the clients mental and physical readiness for the session. The trainer should encourage the client to communicate their feelings by asking open questions and listening actively to their response. Listening is excellent for building rapport, as it shows attentiveness and empathy.

The client might express enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of the gym session; conversely, they might also be anxious, especially if it is their first training session. The client might also identify barriers and distractions to exercise, caused by work or family life. These must be taken into account when discussing the physical demands and the planned session will place on the client; adjustments should be made wherever necessary, to accommodate fluctuating levels of motivation and readiness.

It can be helpful to explain the purpose of the exercises before the session, e.g. “we are using this group of exercises to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, which are something you wanted to achieve.” The purpose of specific exercises can be explained more thoroughly during the session; however, it is useful to identify how exercise choices link to the client’s objectives, as this can help to build motivation.

Occasionally, at the start of a fitness programme, clients can express a sense of uneasiness about some of the planned exercises. These might need to be modified or changed before the exercise session. These last minute alterations can be avoided by being thorough in the original appraisal and consultation with the client. All exercise alterations must be kept in line with the client’s goals and preferences and recorded in the clients training log and the personal trainer’s notes.

Warming up:

Before you start the main session routine, you must ensure the client fully understands the importance of taking enough time to warm up. The personal trainer should ensure that the warm up for each session prepares the client for the content of the main workout.

There are different types of warm-ups for different types of programmes (e.g. home, gym, outdoors and circuits). All warm-ups must include:

– Mobilisation exercises.

– Body warming and pulse-raising exercises.

– Muscle stretching and lengthening.

– Mental and psychological preparation; this includes rehearsal of movement patterns.

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