Foundations of New-Client Training
Gradual changes and education helped this client take the reins on her self-improvement journey.
Personal trainer: Jessica Storm, owner, Storm Fitness
Location: Reston, Virginia
Knowing the client. When Jessica Storm, owner of Storm Fitness, meets with a new client, the assessment process begins immediately—often without the client realizing it. Storm first assesses emotional readiness. “You need to know where clients are starting from and get a clear understanding of how they could be motivated so that you can guide them in the appropriate direction,” she explains. Storm conducts this assessment through casual conversation—usually via telephone initially and in the first in-person meeting.
Next is the physical assessment, which is framed as a workout, not a test. “Most clients are intimidated enough during the first session without the added pressure of thinking they are under assessment,” she explains.
Storm used this approach when she met Christy, a 24-year-old former Washington Redskins cheerleader.
Building foundations. Christy initially approached Storm in 2009 because she was unhappy with her body. Although she was slender, Christy felt that she had fallen out of shape. “She didn’t eat much for fear of gaining weight, didn’t work out, noticed lots of cellulite forming and her body becoming ‘soft,’” Storm recalls. “She was what we might call in the industry ‘skinny fat.’”
Christy was also concerned with her weight, which was a topic Storm addressed immediately. “I had to educate Christy to understand that she
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could become more toned and trim, and her pants would fit even better, but at the same time the number on the scale might go up.”
Storm also learned that her client possessed only a rudimentary understanding of nutrition and fitness. The trainer knew that she would need to start with fundamentals. “I believe that exercise and nutrition are like a [savings account],” says Storm. “You have to save a little each day. At first it doesn’t seem like much, but when you look back after a year you have a bunch of savings.”
Progressing gradually. In the beginning of the training program, Storm emphasized consistency and measured, sustainable changes. For example, although the two trained together three times per week, Storm knew that Christy would need additional exercise to see the changes she desired. Storm encouraged Christy to take up running in addition to their scheduled training sessions. Christy struggled with running at first, but gradually managed to build her endurance. She has since completed several 5Ks, a 10K, a Tough Mudder® and a half marathon.
Nutrition was also a challenge, as Christy’s diet consisted of energy drinks, processed food and wine. Storm took her client on a grocery store tour and explained how to choose healthier food. For example, Storm encouraged Christy to swap pasta for spaghetti squash and eliminate energy drinks from her diet.
“Over time, as she proved to me she could sustain these changes, I introduced other healthy foods for her to try.”
Returning the favor. Now 29 years old, Christy has far surpassed her original goal of “toning up.”
“Christy is now in charge of her journey—I let her thoughts and mood dictate where we go,” says Storm. “I have spent many years teaching her to listen to her body and to her needs, and I fully trust that she knows what is best for her at this point. I just keep fine-tuning things. I want her to trust her instincts, which will help her get through life’s journey.”
It turns out that, in a way, the student has become the teacher. Christy’s new-found enthusiasm for competitions has motivated Storm to end her own self-imposed running retirement. “When Christy set her most recent goal of running a half marathon, she inspired me to come out of my 3-year running hiatus to participate in the half marathon with her,” says Storm. “I helped her become fearless, and now she is making sure I push my boundaries—and she probably doesn’t even realize it. You never know when a client might end up pushing you past roadblocks.”