If you’ve been in the fitness industry for a while, you’ve probably been challenged by clients with different motivation levels. Some are nearly allergic to the idea of moving. Others want to clobber themselves every time they exercise. For them, a workout is not satisfactory unless it leaves them crawling, bleeding, limping, hooked up to an oxygen tank and sore for two weeks. Unfortunately these clients often come to you with injuries. Although we appreciate their enthusiasm we also have to teach them that overtraining has negative implications. (See ACE article on Overtraining) How do we convince these clients that less is more? As you help your clients plan the frequency of their workouts and recovery days, consider the following:
- Encourage foam rolling. Teach your clients how to spend a day with a foam roller or massage peanut ball instead of another workout. They will still feel they are working out while giving their bodies time to recover. Remind clients it’s not only what they do in the gym. Instead of putting all the emphasis on the workout, more physical activity throughout the day is less stressful on joints and increases the metabolism. Help clients think of ways to be more active throughout the day to reduce the stress of their time in the gym. (See NEAT suggestions on the blog.)
- Emphasize nutrition. Mindful nutrition is empowering. Encourage clients to focus on what they are putting into their bodies. If their bodies are like a bank, what are they depositing? High quality or low quality nutrients? Some clients do panic workouts to offset their eating excesses. Help them identify these behaviors and find better balance.
- Consider the impact on the central nervous system. When the brain perceives the body is doing too much, it creates a sense of fatigue to protect the muscles causing performance to suffer. (Mike & Kravitz, 2009). A walk outdoors provides both the physical and mental benefits of moving without a stressful intensity.
- Address addictions. Clients may use workouts as a healthy way to cope with addiction. Replacing smoking with exercise is a healthy choice as long as it doesn’t lead to overtraining. Encourage clients to keep moving but also to listen to their bodies and to seek other positive behaviors.
- Help your clients find more resources for the mind-body connection. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool to help people find balance in life (Corliss, 2017). Many guided meditations apps and videos are available. With all the evidence supporting the strong mind-body connection to happiness, shouldn’t everyone have a go-to mediation resource in their healthy toolbox?
Strategically balancing the optimal frequency of high intensity workouts with recovery days is challenging. By empowering clients with positive tools you help them find a balanced, healthier lifestyle that will benefit them beyond the walls of a gym.
Mike, J. and Kravitz, L. 2009. Recovery in Training: The Essential Ingredient. Idea Fitness Journal.
Corliss, J. 2017. Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety, Mental Stress. Harvard Health Publishing.