What Usually Happens...
At the health clubs we work at across the country we see the usual routines. New clientele enroll, meet with trainers, get an exercise routine, and stick with it for a few weeks, and then they fall back into old habits. For whatever reason, that New Year's urge to get fit doesn't seem to take hold and generally fades out within a couple of months.
Now I will admit that previously this didn't bother me. After all, the health clubs can generate their business and a few weeks after the New Year's rush, the new faces disappear, space frees up, and it's back to work with the regular crowd. But lately, I've been thinking about this and a bit more.
I have been taking another look at what I see happening with these folks who get the sudden urge to become the "new them" and with many of those who come in to work regularly with trainers. I have been trying to do this with a more objective and more critical eye regarding our profession.
And lately, I have been asking this question of myself - if I am working regularly with a client over a period of time what should I expect to see? I should be able to see tangible changes. Body changes, strength changes, but also attitude changes, demeanor changes, the sense of well-being changes -- aspects of one's personal life changes.
Tangible changes are life style changes. If what I have written before about the Zen of training has any merit at all then what we do should affect mind, spirit, and life-style as well as the personal vanity of our looks.
Changing Your Lifestyle:
Let me provide a context for what I am getting at. The well-known cardiologist, Dr. Dean Ornish, has been convinced for a long time that people with heart disease can reverse their illness without surgery. He and his colleagues have been doing their work and conducting their research at the Preventive Medicine Institute in Sausalito, California.
His Lifestyle Program is the first to offer documented proof that heart disease can be halted, or even reversed, with lifestyle changes. Participants lose weight while eating more, reduce or discontinue medications, and diminish chest pain. They feel more energetic, happy, and calm. The key is in lifestyle change.
Clients who enroll learn how to think about their relationship to themselves and others, the ways they see themselves and what they value, how they deal with stressful situations, their relationship with the foods they eat, and their relationship with exercise.
They are challenged through the program to rethink and recreate who they are. And they do not do this alone. Part of the program involves building a support system with family and friends who provide support through participation.
I believe that what we do as trainers should have the same focus. When we do our job well, we are "health life coaches." We see this with the "regulars" who come to the clubs we work at and with those with whom we work.
They have learned to either create or find a sense of support among family and friends that support their efforts. They do become more attentive to their lifestyle choices, their relationship among their diets, their exercise, and their day-to-day habits.
And for some, they learn, or begin to sense, the relationship between exercise, stress reduction, and how they handle their day-to-day stress. In creating the "new them," exercise becomes a manageable vehicle to an inner self-assurance that, like those in Ornish's program, helps them to live more energetically, with a more positive mental outlook, and with a quiet confidence that comes with overall lifestyle fitness. All of this is a part of training.
What Personal Trainers Do...
But as we look at how we work with the people who come to us I am beginning to sense more and more that we have to self-evaluate. As I look at what happens in many of the clubs I visit across the country and look at how many in our profession interact with the people who come to health clubs I find that we too easily fall into a routine - we explain how to use the equipment, we illustrate how to do an exercise, we set up an exercise routine, and we chat with our clients.
We often let ourselves become "workout buddies" for our clients; pals they meet with at the club that help distract their attention so that they can get their work-out in.
We become just one more appointment in their busy schedule, and in turn we sometimes adopt a similar attitude - that they become one more client in our busy schedule. What does this mean as we think about ourselves as professionals?
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?|
If clients are coming to us to "become the new them" what are our personal responsibilities as they lean on our expertise and depend on us to help them plan part of their lives? Are these part of our responsibilities?
and these changes are not simply about their bodies."
In many ways, we are not simply trainers. In a real sense we are educators and life coaches. What we need to begin exploring as part and parcel of our profession are the hard questions of what we owe those with whom we work and what should that entail.
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For any questions or comments regarding this article please contact Rob at Bodyfit22@aol.com.