Yesterday’s sessions at IDEA’s Personal Trainer Institute™ left me with cerebral overload. After sitting for hours, my mind needed a little break. So to counter my “day 1” experience, I did what any fitness professional would do to add variety—I headed to a workout session, of course!
And no one kicks your butt like Douglas Brooks. In his workshop BOSU®: Plyo Progressions–Mere Mortals to Elite Athletes, he included ways to apply principles of progression to teach explosive and challenging movements on the BOSU, effectively. Eric Beard’s workshop NASM®: Dysfunctional Functional Training: Are “Fun” New Trends Leading to More Injuries? didn’t disappoint, either. Using ropes, kettlebells, and medicine balls, he stressed the importance of regression to make ‘trendy’ and potentially high-risk exercises much more effective. What was interesting was how each presenter used the opposite approach to achieve the same end-goal—to advance client progress without injury.
This led me to think more about what client progress means. What does client progress even look like? Is it quantified with a number? Three sets, instead of two? Five push-ups instead of one? A 13-pound weight loss? A 5K completion? How are we assessing our clients’ successes?
In Tom Purvis’ session Progressing Beginning Clients, he challenged us to question assessments and evaluation protocols. “Sometimes the starting movement looks nothing like the end movement,” he says. What if my client couldn’t even do one push-up? Is there a way to pre-assess before the pre-assessment? Purvis suggested ways to work within the client’s capabilities and use trial-and-error methods to evaluate clients frequently throughout all movements. “Every rep is an assessment,” he says. “If it’s a choreographed assessment (i.e., sit-and-reach, etc.), then you are already starting out with expectations and assumptions.”
As fitness professionals we have a repertoire of equipment, exercises, encouragements and evaluations. When a client comes to us we sometimes feel like we should already have their solutions, starting points and workout plans. But I’m quickly realizing that the correct answers lie within our clients, not us. They know themselves better than we do—what they like, what motivates them, what mood they’re in, what exercises they can do, etc. Perhaps we should leverage this information in a way that allows us to be better at leading them through their fitness journey. Maybe that is true success.