I have two clients who would be considered ‘morbidly obese’. I have worked with them now for a good number of years.
The number one issue for me was psychological, not physical: making a client feel comfortable and accepted and developing mutual trust. I try to instill a respect for their own bodies who – rightly oor wrongly – they have come to despise.
Fortunately, I have my own studio which I only share with my husband who is also a trainer. More often then not, I am alone with my client. This degree of privacy has helped tremendously because there are awkward situations at times when it is difficult for the client to move in certain ways or even try something new.
I have about 10 obese clients and 6 who would be considered “morbidly” obese. I basic issue that I find is in finding love and acceptance within themselves. I agree with Karin that psychologically they have to learn to believe in themselves and not let the past or what anyone says negatively to and about them become real.
Part of my responsibility as a Personal Trainer is to make exercise and movement both fun, informative and to give movements that are functional to their everyday activities.
For instance, many people who are overweight (especially my females), don’t like doing push-ups. I love challenging them by using the smithbar for push-ups as I can change the height level, they’re not on their knees and the wrist and hands are in a comfortable, yet stable position. After they’ve done about 2-3 the surprised look on their faces are priceless!
One comment that I usually receive it they never could do them before and so after being humiliated in school never tried again. Now…every time we pass the smithbar they ask if they’re doing to do push-ups and how many would I “like”!
Having a Personal Trainer at their side increases mental and physical confidence in ability and accountability to exercise and body acceptance.
I currently have 3 morbidly obese and a few on the verge. The most difficult issue I face with them is the intensity levels being too low while they appear to be in major distress. I don’t believe they fake it to slow down, they just don’t seem to understand the capabilities of their own bodies. A heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, and good old conversation usually gets them to give more than they ever would have imagined; while showing them that they are safely operating at what they must feel to be insanely intense levels of activity. Its usually just fear; like the first time they did a 3″ box jump. 😉
I work with about 30 new clients every 90 days that present as obese or morbidly obese. I do not find any number one issue, besides weight loss. And perhaps weight loss is not something that is distinct to this group. These clients, are like all other clients, they want quality of life. If I was to make any distinction it might be – they are more frightened of impeding disease, although this would be an inference on my part.