“If your client’s training session looks like a rehab session, it’s no longer training” – the internet
Let’s give that quote a little bit of context.
The goal of training is to overstress the client to drive an adaptive change. With rehab, you are trying to apply the minimal effective dose that creates an adaptive change yet protects the client from digging a deeper hole.
If all your sessions are too rehabby, then your clients will have a tough time reaching their fitness goals. However, there are certain types of situations where a rehab-looking training session is warranted.
To learn when it’s okay to breathe for an hour, keep reading ?
Calling a Training Audible
Have you ever scratched a client’s program and let them get after it on a stress-relieving 30/30 track?
To hell with a fancy warm-up that requires a lot of thinking, frontal plane shifting, and rotating. Just lift heavy shit and not think. Blow off some steam.
But is this strategy really stress reliving for someone who has a Hashimoto’s or colitis flare up? Or someone who just tweaked his or her knee? Or a person who works night shift and has slept only 6 hours the last three nights?
When these clients need to relieve stress, getting after it might dig the whole deeper for them.
You try cluster setting back squats when you’re bleeding out of your ass throughout the night. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google what a colitis flare up entails.
While loading the system is important, it can have negative consequences on these types of clients. For overstressed clients, we must move away from system loading, and move toward restoring people. Provide an environment that promotes healing. An environment that adapts to the stressors at play.
In a perfect world, I would love for weightlifting to be my client’s largest stressor. But in the real world, I’m up against failed rehab, mismanaged autoimmune diseases, and a society that doesn’t respect sleep.
These are the clients who cancel their sessions when shit hits the fan, unless you’re a trainer who can give them a restorative session. Something that will make them feel better and eliminate cancelling as an option.
The gratitude that these people show after an hour of low level activities never gets old. It’s something they’ve never received before. Their previous trainers didn’t know how to bring the intensity down when life forced that as the only option.
So what kind of clients am I talking about?
- Clients with an Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmunity is on the rise, and most trainers don’t even know what it is or what a “flare up” means. Healthy people rarely develop Autoimmunity. Though we don’t know exactly why autoimmune diseases occur, they are often associated with a stressed-out body, compromised immune system, and will likely worsen with too intense exercise.
A lot of people with an autoimmune disease deal with chronic fatigue. I never knew what that felt like until last year. I dealt with intense fatigue, talking for longer than a minute wore me out. Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was train hard.
- Clients with Acute Pain
In acute pain, everything becomes sensitive, even the lightest touch. In these situations, a client might put their membership on hold while they wait to heal. You think intense exercise or heavy lifting is on docket?
When in pain, the brain perceives an actual or potential threat to a body tissue. It’s up to you to find activities that are not perceived as a threat.
Do you know what’s not threating? Breathing.
To learn how I work with these people and the post rehab population check out “The Post-rehab Client who Can’t Lift”
- Clients who hate exercising
If you’re a trainer, chances are that exercise is probably a big part of your life and you love it. Unfortunately, many of your clients will not share your passion. Not everyone has a type A personality.
Robert Sapolsky in his book, Why Zebras don’t Get Ulcers, mentions how exercise can be great to relieve stress and boost mood, unless, you don’t enjoy it and see it at a chore/pain.
I work with a lot of people that have never been a huge fan of exercise. So when life gets super stressful, I take them through low level activities and hop them on a bike for some cardiac output.
- Clients with outside stressors they can’t control
This one is important!
The last three clients are people you may not choose to work with, and that’s OK. Everyone has their target market. However, we all have clients where life gets in the way.
The client who made me think of writing this article texted me last week, letting me know he had a couple nights of horrible sleep. He was up because of his son waking him up multiple times per night.
Can you imagine? Caring for a son who can’t sleep while you are running on empty, struggling with recurring illness (another issue this client has, then getting up and going through your own stressful life? Do you think maxing out on the bench would be high priority?
I can kick my cat out of my room when he interrupts my sleep. Good luck doing that with a family, busy schedule, and work.
A trainer must be able to step back and look at client’s entire life situation, and make the decision of what session this person needs.
Do they need to go all out? Or do they need to chill the fuck out?
Training should be sustainable. You’re not going to prevent someone from reaching their fitness goals by backing things up on the training floor once a month or so.
In fact, you’ll be providing a better service that takes a multifactorial approach. Training from this lens will allow you to determine when a client can be stressed to maximize results, and when they need a break before going to the next level.
Why do you think people go to things like restorative yoga or meditation? If you could offer restorative sessions along with training, you’ll diversify your skillset in a manner that can only help your training business grow.
So what kind of exercises can you do with these clients? Because breathing exercises doesn’t mean you have to stay on the ground. It just means that you’re not loading the movement as much, you’re really concentrating, and you’re increasing movement variability.
Here are a few examples:
Give these a try with the clients that don’t need added stress in their life. Which will allow them to get back to training at a faster pace.
Until next time 🙂