After spending over 35 years working, training teaching, consulting and now mainly writing in the fitness industry it seems a new phase has entered the arena. I call it “The Extreme Phase”. We now see the following: Boot/Commando Camps/training/ Cross-fit Mania/ The Tough Mudder, and Cage fighting. While it does give me a giggle watching these trainers yell, scream, high five each other and plenty of back slapping, it also disturbs me. Along with this is the quick fix supplement taking and recommending of potential chemically enhanced supplements that are slowly making us sick. We do live in a society where everyone wants the quick pill magic potion to get them there yesterday. I also see it in young body builders who after one year start to enter body building competitions. Often they over load on protein supplements and when it comes to dieting down they are left with little muscle mass to actually show off. What we end up with is very skinny looking low body fat individuals. To my knowledge and any research that I can find it is near impossible to gain anymore than 4 kg of lean muscle mass in a year. You would also have to be a male between the ages of 17-25years to see such gains anyway, and be genetically gifted to start with. Whilst your over all weight may increase by 10-12 kgs your real lean muscle mass would be hard pressed to gain any more than 4 kg if you were on a hypertrophy weight training program. Muscle mass for body builders in years past would be over a period of 10-15 years. The problem with the “extreme exercise phase” is we now see many of our clients getting severely damaged in some way. In any program the essentials of periodisation, neural adaptation along with physical adaptation need to exist in programs. I get at least 10 people a week that have written to me complaining about an injury they received in many of the above mentioned activities. So remember all you crazy PT girls and boys out there the following still applies: Let’s just get back to using some common sense. The same principles that existed 20 years ago still, l believe, provide the best course of action when working with clients. I find that the following practises are the best way to ensure you have every possible chance of contributing to health, wellness & fitness of your clients and reducing your chances of “KILLING YOUR CLIENTS”:
1. Know your client
• A good screening process – covering their past medical-history, family-history, current medications they are on and how they are impacted when they do exercise ……these can range from heart drugs, disability medications, mental health issues and medication effects….
• Understand each client’s current fitness levels ….don’t throw then into a commando course and yell at them to give you another 10 if you don’t know whether they are actually capable of doing this.. safely!!!
• Understand their motivation for doing exercise …. and the road-blocks they have that have always sabotaged their efforts
• Check-in with them prior to EVERY session you do. How have they been sleeping? When did they last eat and what was it? How are they feeling? etc …. Know where they’re at when they come to see you.Their answers may require you to change the format of your session with them
2. Research and/or Refer
 Do your research! But make sure it is good information…….. GOOGLE IS NOT GOD!!!
 Understand the impact of exercise on the particular client/group with which you are working. For example, giving a weight program to someone with Muscular Dystrophy will actually speed up their disease, not help it….
 If you’re not sure always, always refer your clients to allied health professionals for guidance. Don’t just record their illnesses and medications on a screening form and then totally ignore them.
3. Develop training for the client’s specific goal/s
 Design training for their needs …we are not interested in how good you are at ABDOMINAL crunches and how many push-ups you can do……….We are here for our clients’ health and fitness …so don’t expect them to do what you can do
 Ask your client what they like to do….incorporate some sporting skills, like social games of tennis, volley ball….and fun games of various football codes.
 Plan a progressive program for your clients -> When doing or introducing weight training start with endurance/hypertrophy before doing strength training…… avoid strength programs until the appropriate adaptations have occurred
 Develop flexibility & aerobic capacities and gradually add in weight training. Be aware of clients/customers limitations
 Stretch – do it with them and give them stretching routines to do at home.
4. Good general advice you can give … safely
 Eating plans should be calorie controlled – eating fresh fruit, lots of multi-coloured vegetables, fresh water, avoiding alcohol, eating lean meats, limiting protein intakes, and avoiding processed foods/preservative and additives……shakes/pills and potions
 Stop stressing……. It does kill us by releasing lots of cortisol in the body! It would be nice to give your clients the quick pill cure and best supplement ever, however they do not exist……..
 “Eat CLEAN” as we say today…..Encourage good grainy organic breads, low-glycemic foods, good sources of carbs such as basmati rice, sweet potato, bananas….
 Rest is important!
 Laughter
5. Good sessions are not..
 Throwing up – in, or after, an exercise session does not constitute a GREAT Session
 Having DOMS for a week after training is not what we are after
6. You – the PT
 Encourage your clients
 Make them laugh so they want to come back. Use fun and silly activities like the in a circuit class……be imaginative
 Don’t give advice on supplements…… especially if you can’t explain the ingredients and their side effects AND particularly if you’re not qualified to give this advice … check your insurance on this. If you don’t have the appropriate qualifications to be giving particular advice you may just find you’re not covered in the event something goes wrong
 Regularly update your qualifications and knowledge … stay current
By: John Hart
Master’s In Education” (Disability/Rehab) Newcastle University Australia
“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia
“Diploma Fitness/Recreation”
“Diploma of Sport and Recreation”
“Cert 4 Personal Training”
“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”
Member of ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association)

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