I’m a newly certified trainer, at age 50, and I have a friend who I’m helping get started on a fitness program. I was thinking of starting her out on the machines, like I was 12 years ago. Mostly to get her comfortable with them so she can use them when I’m not around and also to just get her familiar with how all the muscles work individually. Would you say that’s the correct way to approach it? I’m only asking cause I don’t use machines anymore except for the back sometimes. I like more of the body weight functional exercises.
I often took that approach when I first got started as a personal trainer 18 years ago, and I realize now that I may not have served my clients well, even though it was the best I knew then.
Scores of people are still started off that way in gyms today.
How good are you at fitness assessment, particularly the musculoskeletal portion? This should ultimately inform the way you approach the program design. I tend to start novices to fitness training with instruction to work on core stability first, and I include the shoulder girdle and hip movement in that definition.
Machines often give a false sense of security – to the client AND the trainer. Whether it is the best way for your client to start is ultimately for you to decide after you have weighed all the options.
I wish you success.
Hello Jennifer Hallinan,
Congratulations on your new certification.
With my very first clients, I used my education to help them reach their goals with the resources they have available to them. I still do the same, actually.
I do not let the workout dictate the program, I let the client’s needs and wants dictate the program design.
That is one way you could approach this new client. And like Karin mentioned, many people are started out that way, for many of the reasons you mentioned and also because gyms want them to continue to come in each day to use their equipment.
Have you performed a full assessment of this client? Have you looked at her alignment? How she moves through basic movement patterns? Have you assessed her cardiovascular capability, strength, flexibility, balance? Do you know what her goals are and what she wants to achieve by working with you? These are all questions I ask of all my clients, beginner or not, when they first start with me. This way I know what type of program to design for them. Most people have movement patterns they’ve developed from years of moving that may be due to tight muscles in a certain area and under-developed ones in another. A through assessment can show you these.
As a beginner, I often think of core stability and cardio programming. You want to set her up for success, doing things she enjoys, so she’ll keep coming back. If her core is not stable, it is difficult to correctly execute other movement patterns. But not knowing her, seeing her or doing an assessment on her, this may not be the correct starting point for her. But it is how I usually start a beginner, with modifications based on their assessment, goals, likes/dislikes and starting point.
Good luck! You have a wonderful opportunity to have a positive impact in this clients life by having them enjoy exercise.
As previously stated, I have conducted fitness assessments first and depending on the client I will do a mix of body weight, free weights and machines or just body weight and machines or free weights and machines. If I have them using machines then I transition them after 2-3 weeks off the machine. Also, definitely feed them with your knowledge because I have come to realize some clients don’t know and/or understand why you as a fitness professional do what you do and they just go along with the flow. If they know the reason behind your method most times they feel very comfortable and may want to advance themselves without you asking them.
Thanks everyone. After thinking about it for a week I have a better idea of what i”m going to do now.
She failed her 3 min step test! Probably because she’s a smoker. She’s working on her cardio. I did some strength and flexibility tests in the assessment but have not learned yet the functional assessment system.
She’s a hair dresser so I think we’ll work on shoulder and back, tho she did seems quite strong in that area.
I don’t want to scare her away with too many squats or lunges and have her be sore for days! But I think I will mix it up with a little bit of free weights, machine and body weight.
Any tips on boosting confidence?! 🙂