How do you come up with your clients workouts?
I work with most of my clients in a pool two times a week for 30 minute sessions. Since it is only twice a week for what I feel isn't too long of a time frame I always try to do workouts that incorporate both strength training and cardio. I tend to use what has worked for me as well as other resources to come up with ideas for desigining each of their sessions (as well as what their individual needs are, goals are etc). That being said though I really would like to know how you come up with designing your clients workouts. This seems to be the hardest thing for me to do so I am wondering what kind of process you each go through to make something that works. I am the kind of person that gets bored quickly but I have also read that you aren't suppose to change up routines too often (maybe every three-four weeks). I want to be effective but not repetitive either. How do you come up with your sessions/workouts? Do you have any suggestions?
I have a simple checklist of muscle groups and planes of motion. Whatever workout I've planned for a client, I look briefly at my checklist to ensure that I haven't skipped a muscle group or a plane of motion.
One client pays me for the work-out write-ups, which I do in Excel and email to her after the workout. For this client, I write the goal and purpose of that workout at the top. Then I'll write the duration of the activity and the intensity level. Down the left side, I write the exercises in the order we're doing them. In the next column to the right, I write the muscle groups mainly worked, and in the column next to that, I write down the plane of motion. This is one of my clients who travels a lot, so she can take the body-weight exercise plans with her and exercise in her hotel room.
The more write-ups I do of workouts, the faster I am at planning them, and the easier it is for me to plan in my head "on the fly" if I have a plan for a client on one day, but they come in with an injury or a different goal than I had planned for.
Assessment - what are they already good at and what aren't they good at? Do they have any injuries they're guarding, or poor movement patterns that need to be corrected? Any skills that need to be relearned? Our first sessions are built around what I see when I assess them, plus their goals.
How do I fit in? We go over what else a client is doing besides training with me. For example, I'll go over recommendations for cardio, strength, balance and flexibility training on a weekly basis. Then we go from what's "ideal" to what the client is willing to actually commit to (sometimes much less for someone who is just starting out and I want to set them up to succeed little bits at a time). We make a mental or written checklist of the number and types of workouts they're going to do a week, and what they're going to work on with me. Most of my clients use me for strength training, either one on one or in small groups.
For the few clients who have multiple trainers (I have two people who travel a lot so their schedules are sporadic and they use me as well as other private trainers at other clubs). when I meet with them, they'll tell me what they've had time to do that week and I'll come up with a workout that complements what they've already done. There's no template for how to do that, it's just fast-thinking. You get better at it with experience in both general training and with that client's body.
Just because you get bored easily, doesn't mean your clients do. A half hour is not much time to fit everything in; so, I would alternate exercises between workouts to get the clients into a routine of hitting the entire body. They do take this information home.
Talking with the students at the end of the workout will also disclose what they need, enjoy or want incorporated. When the clients become comfortable around each other, they will express how they are feeling during class and brainstorm among themselves, within trainer's earshot, which is how I love to work: think fast on the feet. Many times I go in with a program, only to change things on the spot, according to who shows up and what they need, want or display. Look at that, another workout is now designed, almost by itself.
I keep record of all workouts, and after a while only need to tweak something here or there for variety. I also like to use partner drills and games for the enjoyment factor.
I hope this helps you.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.
You've gotten some great answers here already! I'll add that I always look at client goals, orthopedic/health issues, and (like Harris mentioned), the type of environment they will workout out in. This is important because the client comes to you for knowledge on an exercise program, but they will need to be accountable for their own workouts as well. It helps to get an idea of where they will be working out on their own and what types of equipment they have. Home, gym, or outside? You can then plan their program around all of those things mentioned.
In addition, I tend to balance what my client wants with what my client needs. I would also keep in mind that you want to progress your client slowly and based on his or her abilities. Have both progressions, and regressions, in mind. Some exercises can be kept the same--that way you can see the progression on strength, etc. But, you can also add some variety of exercises to mix things up. It really depends on your client's goals. Keep in mind that you may get bored before your client does! :)
Good luck--you will feel more comfortable as time goes on...