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Old 08-17-2007, 11:57 AM   #1
Nadia Shatila
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I am getting ready to venture into the world of personal training. Right now I am keeping my full time job, but training clients in the evenings at the gym I have been a member at for 3 years. I'm hoping that some of the trainers out there could offer up some tips, advice or do's and don'ts?! I'm completely new to this (I got NASM certified a few moths ago, and going for my CF cert next month) and am nervous, as I want to do a good job. I am passionate about fitness and really want to make a difference in peoples lives. I am always pushing myself to the limit fitness wise, but I do understand that is not what others might want. How do you know if you are pushing someone too hard or not hard enough? Is this something that comes with time?

Also, any suggestions on how to ease people into CrossFit style training? The first clients I am getting are coming from a trainer who is leaving, and from what I can tell they mostly did machine based training and some circuits. I've already had trainers at my gym tell me how unsafe CrossFit is specifically kipping pull-ups, deadlifts, and even box (bench) jumps! I've tried to explain the reasoning behind CrossFit, to no avail. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry if this is in the wrong section, not sure if it goes in community or fitness.

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Old 08-17-2007, 12:54 PM   #2
Craig Brown
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I think (this from recently re-entering public gym life again & just watching the trainers) the main things are evaluation of where your client is, and where they want to be. I actually had a guy come and talk to me last night while doing a sad attempt at yesterdays WOD (just getting into it) amazed I could do what I did (which ended up being 30 chins, 100 push ups, and 203 squats)...not much. He pays for training twice a week. No weighted squats, no deads, no OHP...lots of cables, pec deck, and eliptical. He obviously wants more than what he is getting.

Teach them to chin on the smith machine. It's what it's for!

Teach them that if they can read in the gym they need to work harder.

Wean them off of the machines.
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Old 08-17-2007, 12:59 PM   #3
Andrew G. Greenberg
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"How do you know if you are pushing someone too hard or not hard enough?"

you need to ask your clients this sort of thing outright. something like, "i showed you some new stuff today. sometimes new exercises are hit or miss. did you think it was too hard?"

not everyone will be into Crossfit-style training. you might need to meet them halfway, so to speak, to get them to see your side of it. if they are skeptical, have them do some of the things they like to do and really cue it well. ask them if they want to try new things.
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Old 08-17-2007, 01:26 PM   #4
John Seiler
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Hey Nadia,

Deadlifts are dangerous -nice! Leave a 40# DB on the floor and say, "Hey can you pick that up for me?" When they do congratulate them on their one-handed deadlift. Then offer to help them with their form.

As Einstein so eloquently put it, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." You just won't be able to convince some people. Let it go and do your own thing. When your clients start getting killer results and having more fun, closed minds MAY begin to open.

As far as clients go:

-You're in a bit of an interesting situation being in a "normal" gym. Trainers at a CF facility often have clients who know why they are there. They know about CrossFit from research or are referred by someone. You can do some assesments with them or make them learn movements before you set them loose. Because they are in such a different environment, they won't know what to expect and will do what you tell them. Clients in a globo-gym may not respond well to "we're going to spend three sessions working on technique with this piece of PVC."

Worry about pushing them too hard but don't worry about pushing them. Obviously you don't want to kill anyone. But you want the power of your workouts to be felt. So does your client. In fact, they are EXPECTING to be sore. If they're not, they will think they didn't do enough. You'll learn enough about them in that first session to figure out where they are. Trust your instincts. That said, be wary of former dancers, cheerleaders, and gymnasts. As you know, many are trained to work extremely hard while not appearing to show effort.

-Be enthusiastic. Positive energy is contagious.

-Be confident. Don't apologize for being different. You're different because you're better. Don't be afraid to challenge people to prove you wrong.

-Be certain of your value and don't concern yourself with their money. Unless they are ill, you will provide them with the most valuable service they can buy. No amount is too great to exchange for health. What would you trade for the knowledge you have now if you suddenly lost it?

-Never discount your services or give stuff away. If you want to offer a complimentary workout, great. After that, nothing is free. If you don't value what you do, your clients won't either.

-Don't be afraid to ask for the sale. They need you to help them make one of the most important decisions of their lives.

-After you ask them for the sale, shut up. Do not say another word until they do. Don't talk people out of what you worked so hard to talk them into.

Good luck. Knock 'em dead!

(Message edited by John_Seiler on August 17, 2007)
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Old 08-17-2007, 01:36 PM   #5
Becca Borawski
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Agreed - how you value yourself will indicate to them how they should value you. Don't sell yourself short or give away too much for free.

Be ready with answers - make up a list of questions you think a client transferring over to you from the old trainer would ask. What is CrossFit? Why are we kipping? Isn't put weight overhead dangerous? Aren't my cardio and strength supposed to be seperate? Etc, etc, etc. Have the answers and be confident about your knowledge.

Keep educating yourself -- keep reading, keep going to seminars, take an evening class at a local college, watch other trainers, etc. It's a never ending (and fun) journey!
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:28 PM   #6
Nadia Shatila
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Wow, thanks Craig, Andrew, John, Becca for the great advice!

John- First of all, HI! Secondly, thank you and you bring up some very good points. You are right on with your comment regarding folks who walk into a CF facility and those at the globo-gym. When I first started going to CrossFit north, I knew I'd spend 3-4 sessions working on form and such. I'm thinking for the first couple of workouts with new clients (based on their abilities) I'd like to put them through something like Cindy or Michael (scaled accordingly) then spend time at the end of the session working on skills and form with PVC so at least they get a workout, but we also get to spend time working on some basics.

Also, very interesting point regarding not giving out too much for free. Just the other day I had a member ask if I would teach him how to do oly lifts, but he won't pay for training. I was stuck thinking do I show him and hope that it will wet his appetite, or do I only show him if he buys a training session? I guess I will go with the latter.

You guys are right, confidence is key. I know I really need to work on that. Also, thanks for the tip on shutting up after asking for the sale!

Becca- great idea. I will make up a list of possible questions a client might ask and make sure I can answer them eloquently and with confidence. Actually, I just got done printing out all my CFJ's, (ok here one example of why I have the nickname Monica Geller) putting them in sheet protectors and dividing them by months. Then I cross-referenced everything...I know overboard but at least when I need a refresher it's much easier to find the articles!

Thanks again everyone, I have my first client Monday; hopefully all will go well.
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Old 08-17-2007, 02:53 PM   #7
Jon Gilson
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One of the best things we do at CF Boston is called "Phase I". It's three sessions focusing on proper hip function and learning the basics of CrossFit. The curriculum is up to you, but hammer in your expectations for good form and all-out effort from the first minute. When the ground rules are clear, performance is much better. If you'd like to know more about how we do Phase I, just shoot me an email.

When I first started coaching, my biggest sin was over-coaching. I'd try and correct every error at the same time, and I wouldn't stop running my mouth about everything and anything. Take the time to fix one thing. It might take four sessions to get a reasonable squat when you're working with a less-than-gifted client. Don't worry about it! Just keep plugging away.

In regards to confidence, you can fake it for a while, but the only way to get it is to keep training folks. Remember your first day of CF? Weren't very confident, were you? Same deal with coaching. The more time you spend doing it, the better you'll become, the more your clients and potential clients will recognize it, and the more successful you'll be.

John is absolutely right about price. Don't negotiate with your clients. I give a discount to active mil/fire/leo and students of all stripes, but that's where it stops. You're worth what you charge, not what your clients want to pay.

Good luck, Nadia. Your enthusiasm will take you a long way.


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Old 08-17-2007, 04:29 PM   #8
Leslie Powell
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For what it's worth, I've found that you can simply present the Crossfit workouts in a way that makes them seem normal to the regular gym goer (i.e. instead of doing 50 pullups, we're doing 5 sets of 10 assisted pullups). Also, I sometimes start by simply removing the time element (so we do the Crossfit workout, but untimed and broken up into normal-seeming sets).

From there, it's easy to say, "we're going to do the same thing we did three weeks ago, but now I want you to do it as quickly as possible."
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Old 08-18-2007, 06:21 AM   #9
Daniel Freedman
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Let me jump into this from the client side.

Until I started Crossfitting 7 weeks ago, it had been five years since I'd been to a gym. Not that I was idle: I did a daily outdoor fitness class that was a somewhat Crossfittish version of military PT. I'm also a longtime runner. In the past I've done ultras and a 24-hour simulation of Navy SEAL training.

I agree with all the comments above. I've had some bad experiences with trainers at conventional gyms. My number one beef was lack of enthusiasm. I often had the sense they were just "filling the time" with random exercises. If there was any rhyme or reason to what they had me wasn't clear to me.

I happen to like structure, numbers and benchmarks.
By $70-100 an hour for random stuff? Well, I didn't buy too many of those sessions. And it happened several times with several trainers.

Maybe it was partly my fault for not communicating clearly what I wanted. But shouldn't "I'm a runner looking for cross-training" be enough? I had the impression the trainers were trying to sell me more sessions of standard stuff without regard to my goals.
But discipline and motivation weren't problems for me. I was looking for expertise -- but i didn't find it.

And what's up with all the chatty-chatty stuff about non-fitness matters? I guess some clients like that -- but jeez, what a waste of time and money! At one high-end gym in Manhattan, I actually saw people spend $100 an hour to jog on a treadmill and chat with their trainer about what they'd watched on TV the previous night. Cheaper than a shrink, I guess.

I realize being a trainer isn't easy. Every client is different. Some don't know what they want.

I've been very fortunate to have an excellent CF trainer. Performance is up 33-38% on two benchmark workouts three weeks apart. For me, the problem was form. I'm not well coordinated and years of running have tightened up hips, quads and hamstrings. So I had to laugh at the comment above about some clients needing 4 sessions before they could manage a
reasonable squat. For me, it was more like 14 sessions!

I also agree with the confidence comment. You are the trainer. You got hired for the job, after all. Never be tentative. Show confidence and enthusiasm.
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Old 08-18-2007, 09:39 AM   #10
Craig Brown
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I'm with Daniel above. Having done two sessions with Dave Werner in Seattle in prep for joining the classes I couldn't say I have EVER seen real 'training' in a commercial gym. I have vastly improved form, have learned new exercises, and have HIGH expectations for both myself and my time at the gym. More than worth the money.

Here's another thing: I don't think I'd 'dumb it down' for the lazy, at all. You still need to ease people in, but I think there are a pile of clients at any gym who would be ecstatic to jump ship for someone who seriously 'trained' them. If you make your clients work, they will be successful. They will in turn be your marketing.

In all seriousness, that kid who I mentioned in my first post was clearly looking for me to say that I would train him. Pretty scary when a not very big, not ripped, not very strong 40 year old gets that kind of attention from a probably 19 year old college kid.
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