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).
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.
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 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.
Hello Shaun Wehle,
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.
I’m definitely on board with you! I’d even argue that the ongoing quest to better understand the “mind” is equally as valuable a broadening your education with regard to how the “body” works.
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!