Forging Through Fears

This client overcame fears to improve her health.

By Ryan Halvorson
Mar 1, 2011

Client: Joanne

Personal Trainer: Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, founder,

Location: White Marsh, Maryland

Revelations. Like many Americans, Joanne was overweight. By age 50, she had tried a variety of fad diets, with mediocre results. “I had also ventured into some unhealthy ways to lose weight,” she adds. “I had success in the past, but for only nanoseconds.”

In 2009, Joanne weighed 260 pounds. A type 1 diabetic, she managed blood sugar with an insulin pump, and she also used a variety of prescription medications to control her lipids and blood pressure. Joanne knew that something needed to change.

Facing Fears. Joanne decided to meet with personal trainer Jason Bosley-Smith on her daughter’s recommendation. “My daughter had been attending a cardio core class and was training with Jason. She was getting results and improving her athletic performance through those sessions. Timidly, I asked her if he worked with 50-year-old menopausal, out-of-shape, overweight women.” With a lump in her throat, Joanne set up an appointment with Bosley-Smith.

“My initial impressions were that Joanne was very nervous and anxious about working with a personal trainer,” he says. “The first key was to make her feel at ease; to empathize with her situation. She needed reassurance that we were forming a relationship, and that I was there to guide and support her.” Bosley-Smith spent most of the initial consultation simply listening to Joanne. “Although Joanne’s primary goal was weight loss, I took the emphasis off of her weight and placed it more on her habits, behaviors and overall lifestyle.”

Setting the Stage. “My first step in approaching Joanne’s program was to provide some basic nutrition guidelines for her to review before her first session,” says Bosley-Smith. Joanne had the “diet mentality” of restrictive eating and skipping meals, he adds. “I expressed to her that quality of food and frequency of meals are keys to healthy eating.” Bosley-Smith encouraged her to replace diet sodas with purified water and to consume whole foods instead of processed foods.

Joanne’s exercise program began simply and was focused on form and posture, including movements to reduce imbalances. “I wanted to start slowly and concentrate on form—to ease her apprehension and to prepare her physically for increased demand and load as we progressed.”

“A typical session with Joanne begins with a brief cardiovascular warm-up when we discuss her body’s response from our prior session; questions that have come up since the session; and what we’ll focus on that day,” says Bosley-Smith. Joanne then performs myofascial relief using a foam roller, followed by range-of-motion exercises and a dynamic warm-up. Their first several sessions consisted primarily of single-plane movements, but Joanne quickly progressed to multiplanar, integrated movements.

Fearing Failure.“Joanne is extremely dedicated and meticulous about following her program,” says Bosley-Smith. However, despite her efforts, a few roadblocks threatened to derail the program. “At certain points she was not sure she would be able to accomplish particular tasks or was afraid that she might slide back into old habits.”

Bosley-Smith addressed her fears thoughtfully. “For example, I provided Joanne with an exercise I call ‘Your Top 10.’” He asked Joanne to write 10 responses to each of the following questions: What did you struggle with before the program? What are you able to do presently? What do you want to accomplish in the future? “This exercise helped Joanne build confidence by recognizing how far she had come and what she had accomplished thus far, and it motivated her to project what she wanted to achieve in the future.”

Finding Health. “Since working with Jason, I have lost 58 pounds,” says Joanne. “Prior to working with him, I needed 125–150 units of insulin to manage my blood sugar; I now use 18–20 units daily.” She also has reduced or eliminated the medications she had been taking. “I have gone from a size 20 to a size 10. I have energy for all that I want to do.”

“It took her 18 months to reach her weight loss goals, and now she has shifted to focusing on body composition versus strictly focusing on the number on the scale,” adds Bosley-Smith.

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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