There is nothing more satisfying than a well planned and executed personal training session. Your clients feel happy, motivated and energised and you, the coach, have a sense of a job well done.
The session goes very quickly, and you and your clients cannot wait to meet again. This leads to better retention and, as a consequence, better results for your clients. Over the years of coaching, thinking and refining my skills, I believe that I’ve managed to distil the integrands needed for the magic to happen, and these days, I hit the jackpot quite often.
I cannot give you the exact 100% foolproof formula; personal training doesn’t work this way. It is, by definition, unique and focused on your client’s specific needs and goals, and you have to have a massive scope of flexibility in your approach, from day to day, from session to session.
What I can give you instead is the roadmap, a rough plan to perfect personal training. Take what you require, change and modify. Create your recipe.
Do you like your client? (And does your client like you?)
I cannot express the weight of this point enough. As a new, inexperienced trainer, I would take in anyone who went through the door.
It didn’t matter to me what goals they had, what they expected and if I liked them. I need a lot of clients and money.
Over this time, I’ve learnt that it is much better if I am more selective. It makes life more accessible and saves a lot of frustration and time. Before signing up the client, I make sure we meet first. Often we meet again for the intro, 20 min session.
I also make myself available for a cell phone and what ups chat. This is all before any money exchanges hands. I want to make sure that we both like and respect each other and that we can work together.
Personal training should be personal, and if we cannot be honest and open, we will not achieve results. It is better to stop the relationship at this stage than to drag it. There are enough clients for everyone and enough personal trainers to choose from.
Don’t be greedy; if you feel that you are not the right person for the job, refer your client to your colleague, who will better care for them.
Your mindset is key.
It all starts with your mindset. You want to be there, in the room, with your client, at the moment.
Leave your worries, your outside life, plans, and your mobile phone outside the room — approach with a clear mind and dedication. Listen and stay humble. You are not Alfa and Omega, don’t act like you know everything. Your goal is to guide your client through the session, keep her safe, and offer advice and excellent structure.
When planning the session, keep your client’s big goal in mind but be ready to adjust or change the session entirely if you notice that this is better for your clients that day.
For example, for today’s session, we had planned heavy lifting. But my client didn’t sleep last night, and he feels flat and unmotivated. So we can either modify weights and focus on the technique and form, or better, we ditch weights and concentrate on relaxing bodyweight flow so that she can restore balance and harmony.
Next time you will hit the weights. As a personal trainer, you are not only responsible for the session, but in my opinion, for the overall health and wellbeing of your client. Your sessions should be an integral part of your client’s life.
The goals and the plan
Your main goal as a personal trainer is to help your client achieve his goals, whether weight loss, completing an Ironman triathlon or deadlifting 200kg.
First, you need to ensure that your client understands what she wants. People come with one set of goals, and often, when they become more trusting and open, they admit that their real purpose is entirely different.
You might have a client who wants to start running marathons, but the real reason is the fat loss. The sooner you both agree on a tangible goal is better. In the above example, running will help lose weight, but it is not the most optimal way. Instead of mindless cardio, it is better to implement strength training and a good diet plan. Your client will reach her goals quicker and have more fun training.
The First 2 minutes
On the day of the session, welcome your client with enthusiasm. Show her that you’ve been waiting for her and that you are happy that she has made an effort. Try to find out what mood your client is in. Ask some questions about last night’s sleep, work, and stress levels. You want to judge your client’s motivation and willingness to go hard.
At Fitness Soul, we have this entry chat when we roll on the rollers. It is part of the structure. Rolling doesn’t require a lot of concentration, and the movements are always the same, so it becomes half-automatic. It is good because we have time for dialogue while doing something for our bodies.
Make sure you explain the primary goal of the session and how you will achieve it. Then, after the session, sum it up and give your client a heads up for the next session.
Keep your client motivated and engaged with a good mix of prizes, technical tips and coaching points. Notice when your client does something well. Try to keep most of the feedback positive and encouraging. As adults, we don’t get good feedback, and we all want to know that we are getting better.
The simple plan
90% of my sessions go according to the plan below. Very rarely, we might skip one step, but most of the time, we go through them in some shape or form. This structure makes it more accessible for your client to understand what’s comes next and keeps you, a coach, on track.
1. Foam rolling
To warm up the muscles, to get more aware, to wake up, to map your body and ‘see it from the outside.
2. Joint Mobility
To warm up the joints, to find and release tensions, to help achieve a full range in the joints.
3. Cardio Warm Up
To warm up the muscles, prepare for the strength part of the workout.
One of the essential parts of the training. This is where we build muscles and get stronger. Generally, we do three sets of each exercise, ranging between 5 to 12, primarily focusing on significant movements, such as squat, hinge, push, pull and carry.
5. Metabolic conditioning
An excellent, fast full-body finisher, leaving your clients gasping for air, dripping with sweat and a massive smile on their faces when it’s done.
6. Stretch and cool down
To wrap up the session, cold down the body and prepare the mind for whatever the next daily task.