The different types of aerobic-conditioning classes offered at health clubs have expanded greatly in the past few years. Where there were once only high and low impact classes to choose from, the exerciser may now select from an abundance of choices including step aerobics, quad step aerobics, slide aerobics, aqua aerobics, boxing aerobics, kick boxing aerobics, spinning classes, yoga classes, core training classes, and the list goes on.
So Many Options
Why have so many options popped up? To meet the demands of the fitness consumer. Fitness enthusiasts demand more options, less monotony, and a great work out. Unfortunately, many fitness trainers have not risen to this challenge when it comes to personal training sessions.
In spite of this trend towards more diverse training options, most trainers continue to offer health club training sessions as their only service. Structured training programs are not the only effective tools a trainer has.
Personal training is more than just meeting a trainer in the health club and being guided by that trainer through an exercise program. When a client hires a trainer, they expect to get effective programming, up-to-date information, and fun training programs. Each time a fitness trainer takes on a client, they commit to improving the health of that client, meeting the expectations of the client can be accomplished in many ways. Fitness trainers must expand the way they think of exercise programming - especially when it can lead to expanding their business.
Structured fitness programs are without a doubt a great way to get clients practicing a healthy routine, and current research supports significant health benefits result from strength training and cardiovascular exercise performed in a health club setting. However, in the past year research has also shown non-structured "lifestyle activities" performed outside the club setting can be equally beneficial.
Lifestyle Activities Vs. Structured Activity
A comparison study looked at lifestyle activity programs compared to structured activity programs; one group of men and women participated in structured activities for fitness, while the other group participated in lifestyle activities for fitness.
- Lifestyle activities included any activity that could be adapted into their lifestyle for a minimum of 30 minutes per session most of the days of the week (walking, volleyball, other outdoor games, etc).
- Structured activities included three supervised exercise session per week, gradually increasing to five sessions per week during the initial six-month period.
After the two groups of subjects completed the entire 24-month intervention, the results indicated lifestyle activity programs are as effective at improving health as traditional exercise programs. Although the structured exercise group made gains more quickly in the beginning, by the end of the intervention both groups had attained similar gains.
The results also showed that participants in structured programs were not able to maintain their physical activity routine as effectively as those who participated in lifestyle programs (JAMA, 1999).
What does this mean to you as a trainer? More options to offer your client! Lifestyle activity programs provide greater variety in your client schedule, and that prevents boredom that can lead to drop out. Instead of spending three days a week at the health club with your client, spend two days inside and the third session outside teaching lifestyle activities. The possibilities are endless, depending on your client's preference - but here are a few examples:
More Options For The Trainer
- Walk with your client at the local park, or along a nature trail
- Go cycling with your client (be sure you both wear protective gear)
- Set up a "basic training" course with a variety of stations at a park, beach, or athletic field. Push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, jumping rope, and stair-climbing all make great stations. If you have an elastic band or tubing, you can create even more stations.
- Rollerblade or roller skate along a bike path (be sure you both wear protective gear)
- Create a mini triathlon
- Run/walk the stadium steps at a local college or high school
- Go kayaking
- Go rock climbing
- Map out trails clients can safely walk, run, climb or ride on the weekend with family or friends.
Be sure to teach your client the correct way to monitor their heart rate and measure progress outside of the gym!
Ask your clients about their interests and desires. The information you obtain allows you to specialize activity programs - ensuring your clients will enjoy their training sessions. Your client wants you to view them as an individual, and address their needs accordingly. Lifestyle programs give you the opportunity to cater specifically to each client, and that kind of service keeps clients coming back.
Lifestyle activities also offer some busy clients a chance to participate in recreational forms of activities. Busy work schedules often prevent a great deal of "play" time - even on the weekends - so the chance to get exercise in a recreational setting is very inviting. Many lifestyle activities are appropriate for the entire family.
Suggest your clients try some activities they've learned with their kids or friends - it will keep them participating, and possibly spur more business. When clients feel that a trainer genuinely cares about their well being, they are more likely to recommend that trainer to others. Many lifestyle activities are ideal for training pairs or groups. This means more money earned per session, without a significant increase in effort.
Offering lifestyle activity options is a great way to set yourself apart from other trainers. They allow you to improve your clients' health while offering the kind of variety that clients are demanding of fitness professionals. Lifestyle activities are cost-effective, and in most cases require little more than a good pair of shoes and a great imagination.
Offering new options to achieve ongoing fitness goals lets your client know that you keep up with the latest health and fitness trends and research. Lifestyle activities instill healthy habits that last. Best of all - when your client is bored with the gym and needs a break for a while, they can continue to train with you and get a safe and effective work out!