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The SCJ is the professional
journal for strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, athletic
trainers, and other health professionals working in the strength and conditioning
Earn CEUs. Browse the list of NSCA approved home study courses and live events.
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January 9-11, 2014
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People seek out personal trainers
for a variety of reasons but the most common reason is often not even
mentioned. As a personal trainer, you have probably been ingrained with asking
new clients the same introductory question: “what are your fitness goals?”
answers to this question, however beneficial, become lost in the banality of
the question itself. Clients almost expect this question before they even hear
Therefore, they become conditioned to answer with something like, “I want
to lose weight,” or “I want to ‘tone’ up,” or “I want to be healthier.” Rarely
does a client say, “I want to learn.” Personal trainers have two choices with their
clients: tell them or teach them.
Telling clients what to do will
only get you so far and causes your clients to be overly dependent on your
instruction. Teaching them, on the other hand, opens more opportunities for
your client to learn skills that will be retained long after you are done
training them. Often times, personal training sessions are dictated by
preconceived notions that the entire time should be spent exercising. This
could not be further from the truth, especially in the initial stages of a
client/personal trainer relationship.
Consider engaging your client in an
educational session before hitting the treadmill for the warm-up and the
leg-press machine for the first set.
Educate your client about their individual
plan and why it is going to work. When you begin a set of exercises, explain
which muscles are involved and how they function.
You do not have to explain
the sliding filament theory, but a refresher on agonists, antagonists, and the
kinetic chain would be extremely useful for your novice client. Think of each
client as a student in your classroom. Create assignments and assess their
learning much like you would test a student or give them a homework assignment.
In the world of strength and
conditioning, training is traditionally thought of as a structured mode of
conditioning intended for fitness or athletic performance. In a more broad
sense, training is defined as educational instruction. Merge the two
definitions together and you are left with teaching a structured mode of
Now is the time to start educating your clients about their
exercise program if you haven’t been doing so already. Additionally, education
is not a one-way street; make sure to prioritize your learning in order to make
you a better qualified teacher.
Derek Grabert, MS, CSCS,*D is an Education Content Coordinator for the NSCA. He holds a master's degree in nutrition and has experience as a university instructor for human nutrition, anatomy, and physiology classes. He has coached high school athletes, special populations clients, and general fitness enthusiasts on the health benefits of strength training, aerobic training, and the integration of proper nutrition.