How can we as fitness professionals continue to help our clients while they rehab an injury or recover from surgery? The more skilled and flexible you are as a personal trainer, the more likely you are to remain relevant and valuable during your clients’ recovery. Here are seven ways to keep your clients (and yourself) motivated:
- Meet your clients where they are, both physically and mentally. Offer to meet in their home or in another convenient place like work or the gym. Be prepared to modify workouts based on how they are feeling. Your planned workout may need to be adjusted because of pain and fatigue. Encourage feedback and empower your client to help create the workout based on what they tell you.
- Rebuild your clients’ confidence. Being more of a life coach as well as a fitness trainer is important during your client’s rehab. Encourage your client to see obstacles as opportunities and to use positive words. For example, a client’s comment like “I am out of shape” becomes a positive affirmation like “these movements are more challenging for me right now but I am getting stronger each day.” To learn more Life Coaching techniques consider take a continuing education course, like one of these from AFFA. AFFA CEUs
- Get their feet wet. Take your client through a workout in the pool. Pool workouts are gentle yet effective ways to move safely while minimizing impact. Search your area for pools with underwater treadmills or that are dedicated to therapeutic activities. Some colleges or public aquatic centers will allow open use of facilities for a small fee and without membership contracts. Here is an example SwimRVA Warm Water Therapy Pool
- Measure progress and celebrate successes. Measuring progress every two to four weeks will allow enough time to see results. Focus on smaller goals such as moving the injured area without pain, walking a little further or experiencing less discomfort with daily activities. Celebrate even the smallest of gains along the way to encourage and motivate your client.
- Progressively increase intensity without adding impact. Utilize range of motion, speed of repetitions and added weight to increase intensity without increasing unnecessary impact (Fable, 2018). Focus on breathing techniques that stimulate the diaphragm and engage the core.
- Offer assisted stretching. Assisted stretching provides a service to your clients they can’t perform by themselves. Consider using PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) techniques. Here is a 7 minute video of some examples PNF Video . Your clients will experience an increased range of motion if you utilize this technique consistently at the end of the workout. (Hindle, 2012)
- Send positive messages. A simple text message serves as a reminder to your clients to keep pushing towards goals and helps with maintaining a positive mindset.
Helping clients through recovery is a great opportunity for you as a fitness professional to expand your skills and will also establish a deeper connection with your clients.
Fable, S. 2018. “ Impact Vs. Intensity” ACE- IDEA Fitness Journal.
Michaels, J. “Life Coaching.” AFAA CEU Corner.
Hindle, K, Whitcomb, T. and Hong, J. 2012. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF): Its Mechanisms and Effects on Range of Motion and Muscular Function. Journal of Human Kinetics