What is the job of a professional personal fitness trainer? The goal is simple: Help clients reach their goals the most efficient, effective and safest way possible. This means designing programs, which include exercising without wasted effort. A well-designed program such as this will minimize injury and maximize the benefits of improved performance, regardless of the goal. There is no perfect program or class for everyone. The job of the professional personal fitness trainer is to fit the program
to the client, and never the other way around. Too often we see programs that are inappropriate for particular individuals, yet they are encouraged to participate because it might be the latest fad or craze-The Latest & Greatest is an on-going theme in fitness and nutrition because most people never actually see progress or reach their goals.

The professional personal fitness trainer/coach is a leader, which helps clients get from their current health/fitness status to the realistic desired state of fitness and health.

How do we get the client from point A to point B in the shortest and quickest way possible?

There are 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Assess – Why assess? What does it mean to assess?

If the job of a personal fitness trainer/coach is to get the client from point A to point B, you must first find out where your client is now (A) AND where the client wishes to go (B). A Base-Line value and understanding of your client’s current state is critical. This can look like fitness testing, performance on a particular workout (time it take to finish, heart rate, weights lifted, volume of work, calories expended etc.).

Additionally to properly design programs for clients, the trainer must determine explicit and implicit wants and needs-GOALS. Explicit goals are goals that are mentioned by the client specifically. Your client may tell you that he or she would like to lose weight. This is an explicit goal. Implicit goals are implied but not necessarily mentioned. Without saying it, your client would clearly like to lose weight the safest and quickest way possible. Your client doesn’t want to waste a lot of time and money. This should be obvious without being mentioned.

Determine your clients’ goals in explicit detail by asking questions until you know what the client wants and you understand the deeper reasons why. You cannot plan to meet goals until you understand what drives the goals. An initial assessment provides the determination of a baseline fitness level, helps to identify risk factors, and can be an effective motivational tool. The results should be used to develop goals and design an effective and efficient exercise program. Using a standard set of questions or a questionnaire is a simple and effective way of assessing your client’s needs and where they are, so you can meet them there. A more robust and complete assessment can also include, weight, body composition, blood pressure, and other biometric data that is easy to collect.

Additionally, if your heart rate data system is able to interface with devices that can collect and tract this type of data you can create a very high value service and tool that increases what you can charge for your professional services.

Step 2: Design – How do you begin to design an exercise program?

Once you have gathered all the necessary information you need through a thorough client assessment, the principles of proper program design and progression must be implemented to properly customize the client’s workout. The principles of program design are based on the fundamental exercise sciences; anatomy, exercise physiology, nutrition, etc. By becoming familiar with and incorporating technology into your scope of practice you will be able to seamlessly meet the programming needs of your clients.

Step 3: Instruct – What is the basis for proper instruction?

Proper instruction is as much an art as it a science. The more proficient you become at active listening and incorporating proper feedback cues, the more you will shine as a professional. Based upon the principles of proper biomechanics/form and exercise physiology, the personal trainer will teach proper exercise technique and make appropriate modifications to insure safety and progression.

You must advise your clients by using both scientifically proven principles of training combined with effective coaching skills. This will influence them into taking action, and ultimately move them closer to the results they desire. The objective feedback that is provided by Heart Rate Training is a powerful tool in proper instruction. Intensity,  recovery, form break down due to fatigue are touch points that can be used by a well-trained trainer/coach.

Step 4: Re-assess – Why do we re-assess?

Once the base-line is established, then it is essential to measure progress with re-assessments. This will help and your client understand the progress, plateaus and corrections that needs to be applied. Heart rate data is very powerful to monitor and evaluate progress. Recovery heart rate, steady state work capacity, aerobic & anaerobic thresholds can all be evaluated using heart rate data.

The personal trainer will continually assess the progress of the client on both a micro level and intermittently assess on a macro level. Micro assessment is close monitoring of every exercise repetition-remembering that every rep is an opportunity to assess the quality of the work. If form breaks down, you should be able to identify the cause (roughly speaking, as this can be very difficult and complex) before you can expect to design the appropriate exercise in order to see marked improvement.

Macro assessments are the 30-60 day follow-up to the initial base-line assessments. This will show if you designed the workout properly and whether your instruction and coaching has been beneficial in producing the desired client adaptations, or if the results did not align with the client’s goals. Regular re-evaluation eliminates surprises and the need to re-convince the client of your professional value. This task becomes easier with experience.

Listening to your client and applying their assessment information toward bridging the gap between their personal needs and wants and their individual goals is powerful. Make certain your client understands that your advice must be followed explicitly, or you cannot be certain of the results. Heart Rate Data is very effective for objectively assessing performance, intensity, and recovery. Unlike RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion), the heart does not lie, it shows objective feedback in real- time.