“Begin with the end in mind,” famously wrote Stephen Covey. (Covey, 2006) So what does this tid-bit of leadership wisdom have to do with training clients? I think it has everything to do with it. As fitness professionals we’ve got to ask ourselves-
Am I beginning each session with the end in mind?”
The end point or my goal for each and every group class is to leave my clients on a workout high feeling exhausted and exhilarated, challenged yet successful, and glad it’s over but can’t wait for the next class. So if I begin this class by telling them to “hop on a rower for 4 minutes to warm up,” then I am doing a disservice to them and myself. According to ACSM, the standard for fitness professionals is now higher than ever. (ACSM, 2017) The warm up is your first opportunity to showcase your value as a trainer and ensure that you’ll take your clients to your desired endpoint.
The beginning begins before the class. It begins when you are programming your workouts, taking into consideration range of motion (ROM), the muscles being utilized, and any anticipated physical limiting factors. So let’s say for example you’ve programmed Fran, one of the CrossFit “girl wods” that consists of 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pull ups. Ignoring the pull ups, let’s just look at the thrusters. You’re coupling a front squat together with a push press. The ideal range of motion would be hips below parallel in the squat and full extension overhead with straight arms at the top of the press. The muscles being utilized are well, everything. You’ve got the rectus abdominals, glutes, adductors, abductors, calves, hamstrings, shoulders, and so on. Two common anticipated physical limiting factors could be ankle weakness and/or immobility and tight adductors. So not only do you program Fran, you program a warm up full of everything they need to move well in the workout. In each warm up you include:
1.) Mobility and ROM work that is based on the exercises in that particular workout.
2.) Activate the core and especially the posterior chain.
3.) Increase blood flow to the primary movers.
So often we jump to number 3 and leave out 1 and 2. Providing the reasoning behind each part of the warm up will reinforce why you, as a trainer, want them to work through the full warm up.
With your comprehensive warm up and great workout planned, now is where you wow them with “the why.” There’s a reason three year olds ask why about everything. They are curious, they care, and they think you know all the answers. Your clients are no different. So instead of simply tossing your client a foam roller to hit their calves with, tell them why. To every what there is a why. By explaining the why behind each exercise and how it benefits them I guarantee your clients will become more mindful and intentional in their movement. You might recognize that the wow factor has landed in a number of different ways. It could be when you hear them say things like, “Wow, that was hard but it felt good.” It could be your client getting a new pr. Or maybe it could be catching a glimpse of your client using that same foam roller technique (unprompted) before class starts then next day.
By planning out warm ups that leave them feeling physically prepared and wowing them with the why, you’ll deliver that valuable workout experience from minute 1 to 59 of each and every one hour class. Or in Covey’s words, “Begin with the end in mind.”