If you knew then what you know now: What would have been most helpful when you started working as a Fitness Professional?
When I started out as a personal trainer I felt like I had a decent understanding of the “body” (though I would clearly learn more and grow). However, I have felt that having a greater understanding of the “mind” (especially in these initial stages) would have made a more significant impact my clients and my professional success.
I have a very obvious bias in that the majority of the time I have worked as a personal trainer and health coach I was concurrently working towards my doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in motivation or change psychology. Despite that fact, I still feel and felt that a deeper understanding of the mental side, motivation, cognition, behavior management, etc. was needed and would have had a greater impact on my comfort, confidence, and effectiveness.
I am just wondering if others had a similar experience where understanding people and their needs became a critical component to the success of your work as fitness professionals. Or maybe there is another element that you have found to be the thing that transformed your ability to better serve your clients.
Please tell me what area i.e. group classes, small group, nutrition coaching, one-on-one personal training, etc. (be as specific as you would like) and the things that you learned later (on the job, in seminars, etc.) that you believe would have been helpful to have had exposed/mastered early on (again be as specific as you would like).
Thank you for your insight!
I echo your sentiments. I am a better trainer now that I know how important it is to understand stage of change as well as readiness to change as far as our clients are concerned.
I've mentioned this several times on this portal, however, if we as fitness professionals understood and are were able to implement TTM and MI during the subjective assessment, we would be in a better position to assist our clients with reaching their goals.
For this reason I offer wellness coaching to my clients. This skill that I have learned puts me in a position to give my clients the assistance the truly need.
Thanks for your question.
I already felt comfortable in the gym and teaching people. The hard stuff for me was getting people to sign the dotted line.
If I lead a novice client through exercises, but they don't incorporate the ideas surrounding "healthy living" into their lifestyle, how sustainable is that change? How much greater of an impact could I have had on them as a trainer?
In two words: a lot!
In hindsight, I also wish that I would have branched out into the online world from the get-go. I often read through message boards/forums (like this one on IDEA) but never actually took part in the conversations being had. A rookie mistake on my part!
Additionally, although my business had a website from the start I wasn't using it in a dynamic way at all. Instead it just sat there, static, doing nothing to really attract an audience to it. Yet again, another mistake in my opinion.
Great question, Shaun, thanks for sparking a trip down memory lane!
I would have started my career sooner; although, I have no regrets; raising my family was top priority.
Motivational interviewing to get and keep clients on the right track is also number one. Without rapport and self efficacy(the client's as well as mine), everything else falls apart.
TTM was a component of my training as a health coaching certification through the american council on exercise, but my training in motivational interviewing occurred through my doctoral training in clinical psychology. While the TTM is helpful, I really felt that getting a model of engagement and motivation augmentation through MI was crucial. I am happy to hear you share this sentiment.
Thanks for the answer and the clarification that others are utilizing this "way of being with people" as Dr. Miller would suggest.
Great point with the sales, which in some ways goes back to the Lawrence's point. I think one of my clients said it best when he said, "Your shtick is that you have no shtick."
I had a leg up on the 'psychology' of interacting with people because I had been living in the corporate world for 18 years prior to my fitness career, and as a manager, I had some training (both formal and Hard Knox) in communication. MI techniques and the change models were very familiar to me.
I remember, though, after I had my coveted piece of paper, pronouncing me to be a personal trainer, that I had this sensation of 'Now what?'. I had just recently moved into the area where I still live, and was not quite sure where to start.
If I were in the same situation today, I would be more systematic in my approach and not stumble from one blind alley into the next. I eventually started working at a club which had the exact demographics that I wanted to work with, and that set me on the path I still follow but I should have given all of this more thought from the start.
Thanks for the input. You make a great point about the importance of group fitness programs. While group fitness as a whole has been around for a long time (as I understand it) there has been an increase in interest and offerings for small group training. While there is a clearly still a place for the personalized one-on-one training approach, especially when working with clients with injury concerns, small groups offers the semi-individualized approach while serving more for less.
Now group fitness as a whole seems to just make sense for so many reasons. It makes me think of the Paleo Diet and the likely Paleo lifestyle that would have included group activities like hunting (in groups) and gathering (in groups).
Someone needs to blog on the Paleo Lifestyle and group fitness classes!
I tend to agree with you in regards to the importance of the mind. However, in my field I feel like I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness. In seminary and and psychology we have a focus on the mind and soul and I am trying to help people see the value of the body. Neuroscience is demonstrating this and it will only become more widely understood and embraced and readily accepted as time goes on.
I am sure I could tie in the importance of a web-presence with the nueroscience discussion, but it is a just a bit too early for my brain to work that hard. However, I appreciate your point about the importance of utilization of the interwebs. While I use webcam services for coaching and am quasi engaged in this forum I do not use the internet to its potential. My website is www.shaunwehle.com and even the name is not the best use of the powers of the internet.
Maybe another discussion as well, but I would be interested to hearing thoughts on how to better use the internet as a fitness pro.
Integrating something as simple as a blog with your professional website would be a great start for virtually any fitness professional. One of the keys, however, would be to provide valuable content that was so appealing to your audience they couldn't help but come back for more of it by visiting your site again and again. It would be even better if they found the content so useful they shared it with their friends via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Other ideas include autoresponder courses, white papers, and monthly newsletters. Here's a fantastic list of ideas, some of which might be of interest to you or others:
If you get a chance to read the post at that link, I would be interested to hear your thoughts - regardless of whether or not you wanted to monetize the content.
I understand the desire for a balanced approach towards the burdens and the blessings of one's career, life, and family. Good for you. To clarify I understand burdens as a positive thing. To me this burden is much like the tension during a good stretch, the burn on a good run, and the pump after a good lift!
Well wishes to you as you continue to create balance in life, work, and wellness.
That people want human interaction and to feel like they matter.
That people are capable of doing much more than they think, sometimes it's simply a matter of the right type of encouragement.
That not all trainers match their potential client and visa versa and it's ok to walk away from a situation that "doesn't feel right."