If you are like most personal trainers, you enjoy working out in the gym, but your clients may not always share your enthusiasm. Clients can get bored or complacent during strength and conditioning programs that focus on sets, reps and steady-state activity. If that happens, they may become apathetic toward their workouts, denying themselves many of the physiological benefits of exercise that can be achieved through proper training. One way to alleviate boredom is to integrate competitive games and drills into sessions. In this way, the primary emphasis of training shifts from simply trying to reach and maintain specific exercise intensities to competing and having fun.

The following games offer just a couple of ways to introduce fun and variety into your clients’ workouts.

The Dirty-Dozen Relay

Use this drill to improve muscular strength, endurance and metabolic conditioning. Have each client perform one push-up, jog 30-50 yards to the opposite end of the playing area, and then jog back to the starting point and perform two push-ups. Each time the client returns to the starting line, add another push-up until he or she reaches one set of 12 push-ups (for a total of 78 push-ups). This drill is perfect for group training and can work for single clients as well. You can time clients the first time they perform the drill. Once you have this baseline measurement, clients can attempt in future sessions to shorten the time it takes them to complete all 12 sets.

Medicine Ball Tennis

This game is best played with two to four clients but can also be played one-on-one between a client and a trainer. The basic rules of tennis apply to this game, which you can play on an actual tennis court or in a gym with a row of cones simulating a net. The object is to throw a medicine ball back and forth over the net using a variety of overhead, underhand and side throws or tosses. The receiver must catch the ball before it bounces twice, and then throw it back over the net. If the ball bounces more than once before it is caught, the server scores a point. If the ball does not bounce twice, play continues. To ensure safety, the ball must bounce once. Anyone on the receiving team is allowed to catch the ball. Once it is caught, the individual may take one step, but no more, before tossing the ball back over the net. The game is over when a set number of points are scored. To provide variety, try using Swiss balls; because of their size and the speed at which they can be thrown, they will add a unique challenge.

While these methods offer a fun adjunct to training, the primary emphasis of a well-founded health, fitness and performance program should still be on traditional and functional strength training and conditioning methods. An approach that combines these methods with a few competitive games will yield the best overall results and improve client motivation.

Dawes is presenting a session on this topic at the 2010 IDEA Personal Trainer InstituteÔäó, February 25-28 in Alexandria, Virginia. For more information on the convention, go to www.ideafit.com/conference/idea-personal-trainer-institute-2010.