The following is a guest post by Nate Palmer.
You may also enjoy reading our earlier post on how to get personal training clients in addition to this one.
The first workout.
It’s where we are expected to wow clients with our knowledge, techniques, and results. It’s where we are supposed to show them that we’re different, and better. In one workout the goal is often to sell them on a large package, and become a long-term personal training client.
Whether you call it “assessment” or “consultation”, this is when we’re expected to convince the client that we’re worth it, know what we’re talking about to get them to their goals.
So here are four ways you can show prospective clients that you really know your stuff, while simultaneously helping them feel better, or teaching a valuable training principle. You establish yourself as the expert, but you’ve also helped them in a way that they’ll never forget. A win-win situation.
Be sure to try these out before you use them on potential clients, so you know what to expect.
Teach Myofacial Release with a Strict Hamstring Stretch
Have your client keep a neutral spine and bend forward at the waist to try and touch their toes. Don’t let the back round out. Mark or make note of how far their hands were able to reach.
Next, have them roll the bottom of their bare feet out with a tennis or lacrosse ball, from the heel to the pad of the foot. Be aware, this might cause them a great deal of pain. Do this for 90 seconds a side.
Now retest the flat back hamstring test. There should be marked improvement. Now, not only does your client love you, but it allows you to teach the importance of foam rolling/self-myofascial release.
Teach Abdominal Bracing with a Towel
A must-do for clients with low back pain. Lay the client on their back with their knees up and heels close to their butt, as if doing a hip bridge. Lay a towel underneath their lumbar spine and instruct them to press their low back into the ground while you attempt to gently pull the towel out from under them. The idea is to have them engaging their pelvic floor and transverse abdominus. The towel should not move.
Once they’ve been able to grasp this concept, have them either stand up and demonstrate, or continue, by resting a light dumbbell (15-25lbs) on their stomach and encouraging them to hold them dumbbell out with their midsection, not allowing it to ‘crush them’.
If they’re successful, have them return to a position that was previously uncomfortable while bracing their midsection like they learned on the floor.
Viola! No more back pain.
Use this as a transition into teaching deadlifts and squats.
Teach Full Body Tension with a Handshake.
Full body tension is helpful in increasing overall strength and staying safe from injury. Grab another volunteer or have them do these techniques to you. I’ve found this works best with women, and not with men who are already strong.
Test: Have your client grab your hand and squeeze it as hard as possible. Provide resistance, but don’t match their intensity.
Now very briefly, provide instructions on how to tighten up their core, glutes, and quads.
Retest: Have them squeeze your hand again, with all of these muscles engaged and tight. Have them and the volunteer note the huge difference in pressure from the first to the second time.
For just a little bit more, have them try again with everything tight, and then have them squeeze their opposite hand into a fist and hold that tight as well. They should be able to feel a difference in the pressure. If you really want to hammer the point in have them perform an exercise with fat gripz and then have them perform the same exercise without.
This can lead into a discussion about strength, and how with the aid of a trainer, rapid adaptations can be made that are all but impossible by themselves. Another way of doing this is substituting a handshake for a single arm dumbbell overhead press. Conversely, this can be done after teaching the handshake method as a way to make show the practical application.
Alleviate Knee Pain with a Foam Roller
Runner’s knee is a overreaching phrase that applies to knee pain that is caused by repetitive use of an incorrect movement pattern. In most non-serious cases, this can manifest as a twinge of pain in the distal medial portion of the knee (below the kneecap on the inside, often in a semi-circle around the inside of the kneecap.)
Often, this is caused by having tight quads, calves and IT bands.
Start by having them show you how they run on a treadmill. Make note of any obvious errors in running (knees falling in, pronation, stomping, etc). Then have them foam roll the IT band and the quads for about 90 seconds each.Make a point to hit the VMO (vastus medialus oblique; the teardrop shaped muscle of the quad on the inside of the leg).
Take them back to the treadmill and have them run again. Cue them to be quiet with their feet – most people stomp when they run, putting more stress into the knee joint. Often times, they can now complete this task pain free.
This can lead to all kinds of different discussions on the importance of having a coach, doing myofacial release, or even why they need to take some time off from running in order to strengthen the muscles of the leg.
Being a personal trainer is hard work. It’s nice to be able to have a few handy tricks that can be pulled out at opportune times that help you get and retain clients, while reinforcing the fact that you’re the expert that can address their specific concerns.
Nate Palmer is a corrective exercise specialist and flexibility physiologist. He enjoys helping people feel better and move better, and uses his free time to help orchestrate the Washington puppy organ-donor committee. Check out his site: n8 training systems. However, the majority of his articles are rude, and should not be read by anyone.