Wii Fitness for Dummies (aka, Fitness on the Wii), available from booksellers everywhere, as well as online discounters like Amazon.com, focuses on three of the top Wii fitness programs, Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active: Personal Trainer, and Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010, as well as provides additional coverage of the entire Wii fitness phenomena and general exercise theory. As is always the case when writing a book, there is inevitably content that doesn't fit either due to subject matter, cost, or space constraints, which is where this regularly published bonus tips and content comes in. Each week, for an indeterminate number of weeks, Christina and I will be posting items that will both add to your enjoyment of the book and provide good fitness information in general.
This week, we're running the eleventh entry, which is on professionalism and attitudes for personal trainers:
Christina Loguidice, AFTA Certified Personal Trainer:
As a personal trainer, it is important to always behave in a professional manner. Whether you are training someone at a gym or independently, there are three important components that factor into professionalism: image, attention, and attitude. If any of these three are missing, you are doing a disservice to those you are training and failure is inevitable.
They say “image is everything,” and while true for every profession, it is especially relevant in personal training, where the objective is to help people become fit and healthy. This means you should be in good shape yourself. If you do not look like you practice what you preach, there is no reason for the client to take you seriously, and you may be perceived of as a fraud. It is also important to always dress appropriately; no T-shirts with offensive words or images, skimpy shorts, etc. You should look like a fitness instructor, as the objective is to train your client, not distract them or make them uncomfortable to be around you. You should also avoid jewelry, especially rings, which can scratch clients when you are helping them with exercises. Further, as far as image is concerned, a personal trainer should always be clean and polished. This means you maintain proper hygiene by brushing your teeth and hair, wearing antiperspirant, showering on a daily basis, and wearing clean clothes. Heavy perfumes should be avoided, as should any foods that could leave you smelling foul. You are in close contact with your clients, and you want the experience to be pleasant. A client won’t be happy if they have to hold their breath while exercising because they can’t stand how you smell.
Never take your eyes off your client. The world is certainly full of distractions, but the client must be your focus, not the television mounted on the gym wall or the other people around you. The client is paying you for a service, and if you are not completely focusing your attention on them, you are robbing them of time and money. Further, if you leave a client to their own devices, you pose the risk that the client could injure themselves, and you can’t protect yourself from severe scrutiny and potential liability if you can’t even recount how an injury happened to begin with. It is important that your client feels that you are paying attention to them. This is another reason to record their progress and give them feedback as they are performing exercises. If you do not pay attention to details, like recording progress, then you can’t give truly meaningful feedback, and that is what your client expects and is paying for.
Yelling at and belittling people on TV shows like Biggest Loser makes for great ratings, but is unacceptable in real life. Clients are paying you to help them improve their lives by becoming healthier. You must always be encouraging, and never reprimand a client because they are not working as hard as you think they should be. Everyone has different limits and tolerances, and making a client feel bad about their progress or limitations will lead to failure. Not only will the client most likely no longer want to train with you, but you may have now completely turned them off from wanting to train at all. Your objective is to make sure the client performs the exercises correctly and provide positive reinforcement. Further, if for some reason you are in a bad mood, you should never take it out on your client—they should not be aware that anything is wrong with you. The experience should always be pleasant, no matter the outside circumstances. Last, you should never make fun of other people or say bad things about them to your client, or divulge the secrets of other clients to them. If you do, your client will wonder what you may be telling others about him or her and lose their trust in you. Your attitude must always be positive and professional, which means you do not act like a high-school student or sadistic drill sergeant.
Bill Loguidice, AFTA Certified Personal Trainer:
Proper professionalism and attitude in all things is always important, but particularly when dealing with clients. Beyond common courtesy, having a client give you money and allow you to guide them in a potentially risky endeavor is something that can’t be trivialized or taken lightly. They are literally placing their safety in your hands and you must do your utmost to rise to that lofty responsibility.
Professionalism for a personal trainer means knowing your stuff. It is critical that you stay knowledgeable and informed, and when there are times when you don’t know something, you don’t pretend that you do, but you make a point to find out for the future. Honesty is key to building a trusting relationship. Beyond knowledge, you must treat the client as an individual, never assuming anything. You must get to know them, understand them, and be able to address their particular needs. As your responsibility, the client must feel like they’re important when you’re with them, so distractions must be kept to an absolute minimum.
Attitude for a personal trainer means being energetic and positive, while at the same time having empathy for the client. While you project a can-do attitude, you must also understand that your client may not be there yet, so it’s important to find creative ways to motivate and inspire them. If you stay positive and focused, more often than not you can help the client become the same way.
Finally, it is important for a personal trainer to always present a clean and polished exterior. Beyond taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually (whether that’s within or without), it is critical to both your own reputation and whatever establishment you may or may not be representing to project on the outside what is going on on the inside. In short, professionalism and attitude must be looked at holistically, in total, and not as a circumstantial endeavor. This is not something you should have to turn on and off given different situations, rather, it should become part of who and what you are.