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Thursday, January 29, 2015

THE BUSINESS OF PERSONAL TRAINING: Learn to Adapt

"I can still work out coach!"
In college I majored in Kinesiology/Exercise Science.  I learned all about anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology and exercise programing.  I learned in a training session you should program compound movements, like squats, dead-lifts and bench-press, before doing isolation movements like 1-leg dead-lifts and dumbbell reverse flies.  At my CrossFit Level-1 course I learned about a different way to program.  A way that is constantly varied.  In CrossFit you program to be well trained in every time frame and weight.  You program heavy, light and moderate loads.  You program short, intermediate and long workouts.  You program all types of movements, like weightlifting, gymnastics and monostructural (cardio) movements.

The one thing I never learned in all my course work was how to adapt on the fly.  I had to learn this through experience.

There have been numerous times that I have had a great workout planned for a client.  I wrote the workout down and thought "this is perfect".  My client comes in for their training session and says "I did something to my X".  Well, time to tear up that perfectly programmed training session plan and quickly think of something else.

What to change to is a complicated issue.  It depends on the injury, the severity of the injury and the client's goals.  The best suggestion I can give is to stay completely away from the injured area.  They have a knee injury?  Now it's an upper body workout.  Bad shoulder?  They are going to be doing a lot of squats!

You must also be able to adapt for how a client feels.  When you are working with people, you are working with not only their physical being, but also their mental/emotional state.  I like to sometimes give clients what I call a "mental toughness" workout.  These are mentally challenging workouts designed for you to "fail".  If a client has been up all night because their kid is sick, a "mental toughness" workout is not appropriate for that day.  You must adjust to a lower intensity workout to hopefully help that person feel better.

Learning to adjust your plan on the fly is essential to being a good trainer.  You must be able to quickly asses the situation and quickly come up with a new, and effective, plan for your client.

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