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

“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

“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

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

“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.”

Calling All Trainers

Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected] and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.

Ryan Halvorson

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.

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