• Certified Personal "Teacher"
    Personal trainers are not only tasked with helping clients get in shape, but also with teaching them lifelong skills to maintain their own health and wellness.
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  • Cert Personal TeacherWhat Does Your Client Need?
    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?”

    The answers to this question, however beneficial, become lost in the banality of the question itself. Clients almost expect this question before they even hear it.

    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.

    Tell or Teach
    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.

    For Your Next Training Session
    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 physical fitness.

    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.
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    About the Author:

    Derek Grabert, MS, CSCS,*D

    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.

  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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