The Right Answers – A Rant

22 Jun

You’re a trainer. It’s 10am Monday morning and you have your first session with a brand spanking new client. The first thing you guys are going to do is sit down and you’re going to ask him/her some questions.

I walk around the gym a lot and I hear trainers ask questions all the time. For the most part they are all the same. Asking the right questions is pretty huge, but maybe it’s time you thought about getting the right answers.

Here’s the primary example:

  • Why Are You Here? – A pretty standard question. If I asked this question I would preface it with – “I want the real answer not the “what I’m going to tell the trainer” answer. If you tell me that you’re here to improve your overall health, when in actuality you’re here this morning to begin a quest towards being the biggest most bad ass dude at the local watering hole, then I’ll be a little less surprised when I see you skimping out on your mobility work so that you have time to add a few more sets of preacher curls to your workout. I’ll be even less surprised when I’m down the street at the nutrition store getting my SPIKE on and I see you forking over 70 bucks on some sort of supplement ending in -ol. I thought you wanted to better your health? I realize elaborating on the question by asking what “overall health” means to them gets you closer to the truth, but you’re picking up what I’m throwing down right?

You might offer up that a good trainer will explain WHY he is having you do what he is having you do.  I get that and it’s true. I do it because I think it’s a sign of a good trainer. Let’s face it the last thing you want, and this an actual comment I recently heard, is a trainer who tells you to make sure you get a good stretch in the tendons of your elbow. Tendons attach muscle to bone, check me if I am wrong here, but I don’t think you want to forcefully stretch your tendons… I digress, you have to realize that most of your elaborate explanation to the average fist pumper is only so worthwhile, a lot just gets lost in translation. For example explaining the benefits of mobility work kind of goes in one ear and out the other to a guy who wants to get jacked, especially when he thinks you are operating under the idea that he is there to better his overall health. However, when you explain to him that squatting is a key to helping him establish male dominance by adding slabs of muscle to his physique while aiding in the effort to drop body fat and that he can’t squat effectively and activate his glutes if he has tight hips translates a bit better. When you and said client have established the actual goal, it’s going to get both of you a lot farther a lot faster.

By the same token, lets say the answer to this question is “I want to be stronger.” You establish a Rep Max on the client’s major lifts and set up a program that helps them progress all their lifts over the course of the next year. After an assessment and you spending a few hours writing a sensible program addressing this goal you notice said client bench pressing 3x a week. “What the *#!$ are you doing!” You exclaim in not so many words. Turns out the real answer to the question was I want to be able to bench press more than my friend Mike. You don’t say…literally. Again, now you have a better idea of how to program the client and you can explain to him the benefits of boosting more than just his bench to reach his actual goal. With both of you now aware of that goal the advice hits home a lot harder.

Once you get the skinny on what the client is actually in the gym to accomplish then you can start to build quality questions, and give worthwhile advice. You are selling a service. Your job is to deliver what the client wants. As a trainee you want what you came for. Maybe this is what separates a good trainer from a bad one? Can you convey to them the idea of how everything is intertwined? If the client wants a bigger bench get them a bigger bench. If they want to turn heads at the bar, make those damn heads turn. It all starts with getting the right answers so you can provide the right reasoning and right plan to get the the right results. (All while taking their “overall health into account 😉 )

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