Welcome to the Jungle

Imagine you’re on a guided trip to a beautiful and lush forest area. You arrive in a jeep and have been comfortable thus far, but as soon as you step out, you realize the terrain is very rocky and unsteady.

You look out further and see large, oddly shaped boulders unevenly lined up on the path ahead which is also embedded in a river with a strong current. The tree branches are low and there are many tough-looking vines hanging from them. There are birds flying at mach speed as they travel from tree to tree and there’s a hissing sound coming from behind some of those large misshapen rocks closer to land…

Your imagination starts to run wild! What if one of those crazy birds clips my head? What if I lose balance on an already unstable rock, grab a vine but lose my grip, fall into the rushing water and get bitten by the snake I fell on top of?

Outrageous, right? Yet, this can be what a beginner entering a fitness facility can feel like.

Beginners may take one look at all the clunky metal structures, the heavy iron lined up on the racks, and the thick cables in large pulleys and think, “Wow, I’m in a jungle.”

This can often inspire fear and intimidation. They may even hear people making strange sounds while moving the heavy iron, see someone using something like the TRX straps suspended in funny ways, or witness yet another person crawling on the floor with chains attached and think, And those are the wild inhabitants of this jungle?! THAT is NOT me.”

What We Can Do About It

As trainers, it is our job to make beginners feel like they are safely being guided to do what matches their fitness needs and at their capability level, which of course results in successful outcomes. Keep in mind that “beginners” can be:

  • Anyone new to exercise
  • Those that are deconditioned
  • Elderly persons

We need to encourage and support them by meeting them where they are in their fitness journey and by being a good listener with great communication skills. Once they are set with an appropriate plan and feel comfortable with whom they are working with, they will realize they are embarking on their own personal journey of adventure and self-discovery, which can be tremendous in transformation.

What can we do to ensure we are on the right path when starting with these types of clients? PTA Global has a four-system approach for creating the best training environment for beginners (and for even the most seasoned fitness enthusiast looking for some training guidance).

By focusing on each of these four categories, trainers can foster the development of strong trainer-client relationships. These four steps involve implementing tools under the following categories:

  1. Motivation
  2. Movement
  3. Client Screening
  4. Programming

 

MOTIVATION

In order to motivate clients during each session and throughout the entirety of training together, a trainer first needs to do a bit of self-reflection.

Are you a good listener? Are you an effective communicator? If trainers are skilled in these two attributes, they can build a good and strong rapport with their clients, which is absolutely vital to that client’s success in attaining fitness goals.

PTA Global’s education guides learners on how to interpret personalities via four different temperaments: director, analytical, amiable, and expressive.  Knowing what temperament a client has is essential in effective communication and building rapport, because the trainer can adapt better communications styles to match theirs.

Once the trainer has a better understanding about the way a client likes to communicate and has therefore established a good rapport, they can begin earning that client’s trust. At this point, using PTA Global’s two key tools will prove to be a fruitful experience. The two key tools are:

  1. Decisional Balance Sheet
  2. Program Design Questionnaire

 

The Decisional Balance Sheet is designed to help clients identify their perceptions of exercise and discuss them openly. When a trainer takes the time to really listen, they can both uncover some valuable information. Beginners may not have even realized what may have been a barrier in the past; now the trainer has a better understanding of the client.

Look at some of the outcomes from using this tool:

  • Evaluate positive and negative perceptions about new fitness behaviors
  • Help the client see the benefits of change
  • Recognize any mismatch between values and behaviors
  • Remove barriers to change
  • Guide clients to positive changes

To access a more descriptive copy of this tool, please click here

CLIENT SCREENING

Screening your beginner clients is one of the most important things you can do for various reasons. It demonstrates professionalism, develops rapport, builds trust, and uncovers essential info. Client responses provide the foundation for building an effective training program, so it all begins with an effective interview. 

During the initial consultation, trainers can gather the client’s medical and exercise history, and other relevant information. With PTA Global’s education, trainers can learn how to do all of that including discussing cardiovascular risks, and performing physical assessments with specific markers such as flexibility, strength, blood pressure, body fat and more.

The more information trainers gather from clients during the screening process, the greater their understanding their clients’ concerns, fears, interests, needs and what their ultimate goal is. Using PTA Global’s tools and education to ask the right questions will lead to client success.

PROGRAMMING

As we know everything begins with PTA Global’s PDQ.  Based on the responses, the trainer can then work on building a program.

When it comes to building a program for a beginner, trainers can use PTA Global’s online program design tool. Using this tool helps check a lot of the boxes necessary when programming for a beginner, such as selecting simple exercises that can ensure success and therefore build confidence. This can certainly help a beginner adhere to a fitness program. Click here to access this tool.

Alongside using the online tool, some helpful things to remember when it comes to creating programs for beginners, or “lead-off” clients per the PDQ, are the following:

  • Training guidelines
    • Low technical demand
    • Larger muscles progressing to the smaller
  • Reps and sets guidelines
    • 8-25 reps
    • 1-3 sets
  • Rest intervals and movements speed
    • 1-2 minutes rest
    • Slow to moderate speed
  • Number of sessions and duration
    • 1-2 sessions per week
    • 20-30 minutes per session

We use the first three steps in the PDQ to design the client’s program, but we don’t want to forget step number four, the client’s responses about their motivation for their goal.  We need to do more than just create a session.

As Dan Duran of PTA Global says, “Programming is where all the magic happens. We take all we learned about our client and everything we learned about the human body and movement and turn it into a workout program, or better yet, an experience.”  Your beginner clients will want to return and continue on their journey based on the experience, you the fitness professional create for them. 

For more information and details on how to create the entire experience as described in article, visit PTA Global’s website to research educational course opportunities.

 

About the Author: Susane Pata

Susane Pata is a Global Master Instructor for TRX, and a Presenter and Author for PTA Global, as well as the Life Fitness, and TriggerPoint brands. She delivers live fitness education to wide audiences in North, Central and South America, Europe and Asia, and has begun writing for a variety of websites and publications. Susane created TRX’s first-ever group fitness program in 2004, and launched their education department and first-ever group training studio in San Francisco. When not traveling, Susane resides in New York City, instructing and advocating strongly for creative—yet smart—group fitness training.