If you didn’t catch part 1, check it out (HERE). Continuing on…
6. They listen to you and continually ask for feedback from you.
A good trainer-client relationship is dependent on having good communication, mutual understanding of each other, and support. In order to cultivate this type of relationship, a good trainer needs to be able to listen to and actively seek input from his clients on a regular basis. This input can include training-related topics, nutritional advice, personal life issues, or health concerns or injuries, to name a few.
I frequently find myself having conversations with my clients about their jobs, family life, what’s causing them stress at that moment in time, aches and pains they might be feeling that day or prior, how they felt after our most recent training session, or any number of other things. As a trainer, it is important to be able to listen to your clients, and as a client, it is important to be able to feel like your trainer is listening.
While it is vitally important for a trainer to get feedback to help his clients with their training regimen, it is even more important for a trainer to be a trusted source of support, motivation, and guidance not just when it comes to training, but in helping clients achieve a better quality of life in general.
7. They can properly demonstrate and explain clearly the exercise(s) they are teaching you.
As a good coach, in order to impart understanding and knowledge of how to execute an exercise to a client, you need have to have spent ample time learning and training it. A good coach understands all of the intricacies of an exercise, like which joints create the axis of rotation, which muscles are prime movers and which are stabilizers, how to feel the neuromuscular connections, and where to feel and not to feel tension, bracing, and movement.
I find it staggering how many times I’ve seen trainers out there teaching exercises to their clients that they themselves can’t even do. As a coach, you cannot properly teach something you can’t even do yourself. You need to have gone through the process of learning it, honing it, and mastering it to truly appreciate how to coach it correctly.
For example, if you as a trainer are teaching your client how to deadlift, yet in your demonstration you have an excessively rounded lumbar spine, poor neck position, and have never lifted more than your own bodyweight, you might want to reconsider teaching clients how to deadlift.
8. They spend ample time and effort on continuing education.
In the world of health and fitness, it is the responsibility of the professional to be educated enough in the basics to be able to provide the best service possible for his clients. There needs to be a fundamental understanding of functional anatomy, biomechanics, and program design in order to build an effective training or therapy system.
That being said, there is also quite a bit of freedom in how a trainer decides to build his skill set. Not every trainer is a master at the olympic lifts. Not every trainer wants to rehabilitate and relieve the pain of their clients, they'd rather refer out. Not every trainer has the ability to design a powerlifting program that will eventually have a client deadlifting 500 pounds. That’s the beauty of training. There is a trainer out there for damn near any school of thought or training method you might align yourself with.
Whatever path you take as a trainer or health care professional, you need to be continually learning new information and adding to your toolbox. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the more likely you are to have a solution to your clients’ problems. The better understanding you have about the human body, the better you will be able to progress your clients without stagnation, injuries, or other setbacks.
The more educated you are and more tools you have as a professional, the better service you provide for your clients, plain and simple.
9. They help their clients understand the big picture and set appropriate goals.
A good trainer understands that in order to achieve certain fitness goals, it takes a lot more than training 2 or 3 hours a week without changing the rest of your lifestyle to match. Building and maintaining a strong, lean, healthy, and well-functioning body requires a certain lifestyle. There are many different paths to achieving a healthy lifestyle, but you definitely can’t get away with eating crap, never working out, and sleeping 4-5 hours a night.
It really gets under my skin when trainers promise the world to their prospective new clients. It’s a common marketing ploy, and is used frequently in infomercials, as well as big box gyms where the trainers are pushed to be good salesmen more-so than good trainers.
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!"
“Build 8 pounds of muscle in 2 weeks!”
NEWSFLASH: You can’t simply go from being an overweight, 47-year-old, with 3 kids, a 60-hour-per-week workload, who hasn’t worked out since college, and has nagging shoulder and lower back issues, to looking like an elite athlete or fitness model by simply doing an 8 week training program. It simply doesn’t work that way. Any trainer who leads you to believe for a second that these types of results are realistic is lying to you and trying to take your money. More often than not, it takes YEARS (even lifetimes) of learning, skill acquisition, dedication, discipline, hard work, and a specific lifestyle to achieve the type of body typically dreamt of.
A great trainer helps their clients to understand what goals are realistic for them, and develops an effective and sustainable plan to achieving those goals. They have a systematic approach to training and don’t deviate too far from it simply in order to sell training packages. Good trainers know what you need (based on their assessment), what you want (based on what the you as client tell them), and map out a definitive plan for working towards both in unison.
In the example above with the 47-year-old gentleman, I reckon that fixing his shoulder and back pain, learning how to perform some of the fundamental exercises, and learning how to better manage his time to get more sleep and reduce stress would be a great place to start.
10. They walk the walk, and look the part.
There is actually a lot of debate over whether or not this really matters in the grand scheme of things. Does a trainer have to be fit to help other people get fit? Maybe not. There may be extenuating circumstances that prevent a trainer from looking a certain way or being able to perform impressive feats of fitness. However, with all judgments aside, I believe that as a trainer, it is very important to maintain for yourself the type of lifestyle you want for your clients.
There is something to be said for a trainer who adopts a healthy lifestyle teaching other to do the same. This is very much the same as being able to properly execute an exercise before teaching said exercise.
As a trainer, you not only want to be a source of inspiration for your clients and followers, but more importantly, you need to be able to relate to your clients. That means you need to be practicing what you preach.