Adaptable Program Design

by Ryan Halvorson on Jan 18, 2016

Client Success Story

Eran’s career as a dancer requires consistent modification to her training program.

A perfect match. Sometimes, in what seems a stroke of kismet, a perfect client-trainer relationship begins. Several years ago, Eran, a longtime dancer for Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Company, moved to Brooklyn in New York City. She had been working with a personal trainer in Harlem until the commute from Brooklyn became too much of a struggle.

“I decided to see if I could find someone I liked at the local New York Sports Club,” she recalls. “I told the manager there that I wanted someone who knew as much or more about fitness than I did and who would really push me. He said there was only one trainer there who fit my description: Shaun!”

Aside from being a dancer, Eran was experienced in Pilates and had earned a mat certification in college.

“Our first meeting was wonderful,” says Shaun Zetlin, now the owner of Zetlin Fitness in Brooklyn. “In light of her intense tour schedule with her dance company, Eran expressed interest in wanting a more stable and stronger back.”

Unique demands. One of the challenges Eran faces is adaptability. As a modern dancer she must be able to adjust her physical skills to meet the demands of the varied performances she’s cast in.

“For instance, if Eran is featured in a dance that has lots of jumping, we will train with plyometrics,” explains Zetlin. “Or, if one of her dances requires more strength in her upper and lower body, I will incorporate strength training exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats and lunges.”

Zetlin is always careful to adjust the intensity of the workouts if Eran has a rehearsal or a performance that day or near that day. In that case, “we do some balance training and light strength training; however, no power training for volume,” Zetlin explains. “The goal is to progress but never to make it so intense that it becomes a 
detriment to her dancing ability.”

Eran adds, “I think the main thing is balancing the workout so that I am still making progress but without the workout making me too tired or sore to do my job.”

Self-care. “Eran has remained injury-free and hasn’t missed a performance. Also, she has progressed into an even more accomplished dancer due to the stabilization, strength and power she has developed in our work together.”

Zetlin believes that a key factor in Eran’s success in both dance and training is her emphasis on self-care. “She has high expectations and goals for herself, but she is also very well aware of her limits.”

In order to fulfill her own expectations, Eran spends a great deal of time completing the “homework” and the stretching exercises that Zetlin provides.

“Eran is consistently working with a physical therapist and a massage therapist, and is taking classes in both GYROKINESIS® movement and GYROTONIC® exercise to keep up with the self-care her body needs,” he says.

Client study. Zetlin believes that, 
in order to provide the highest quality of services, it’s vital to fully understand a client’s true needs. In this case, 
Zetlin needed to witness—firsthand—the 
 rigors Eran faced at work. By attending her performances, Zetlin was able to design his client’s sessions to be compatible with her stage requirements.

“The routine you design for a dance client should be specific to the type of dance that your client performs,” Zetlin advises. “There’s a fine line between pushing your dance clients in their training sessions and doing them a disservice by pushing them to the point that they cannot do their job as a dancer to their best ability.”

While not every trainer will have the chance to work with a dancer, Zetlin explains that open communication is paramount to every client’s success. “Continue to have open and honest communication with your clients on the intensity of their workouts, while [still keeping the clients on track toward] their goals,” he says. Paying attention to each client’s needs will produce satisfying rewards.

“There’s no prouder moment than going to a client’s dance performance and seeing her perform on stage, knowing that you helped guide her to become an even better version of her already 
talented self.”

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About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.