We’re all grateful to get back into the swing of things. But there are a lot of things we have to keep in mind as we return to the gym and begin coaching clients again. Your clients are eager to get back into the gym, just like you’re looking forward to training them regularly again. However, don’t let your excitement distract you from the questions you need to ask yourself and your clients before you just jump back into your routine. You can’t simply pick up where you left off during your last session before quarantine hit.
A lot of things are different now than they were before the COVID-19 shutdown, from the layout and hours of your gym to the ability and motivation in your clients. As a trainer, your job consists of so much more than simply giving them programming and holding them accountable. You have to make sure you know what’s really going on with your clients, including what’s happening underneath the surface. If you just assume how your clients are feeling, you won’t be able to provide them with the best service.
Here are four mistakes you don’t want to make when you begin coaching in person (or even online) again.
You Don’t Check in With Them Before You Start Coaching Them
Your clients have been living a very different life over the last few months compared to what they were doing before the shutdown. They’ve been cooped up at home, likely stressed about making ends meet or taking care of their kids who are out of school, and probably eating a less healthy diet than they were previously. Checking in with your clients on how they’re feeling and what their stress levels are is an absolute must. You won’t have any idea how to program for them properly if you don’t know what their current state is.
Consider sending out a survey to all your clients who are getting back into the swing of things after the COVID shutdown. Ask them common questions like:
- Have you been working out during quarantine? If so, how often?
- What has your diet been like?
- On a scale from 1-10 (10 being the most stressed you could possibly be), how stressed have you been feeling lately?
- Have your training goals changed since you’ve been quarantined? If so, how?
- What are the things you’d like to focus on in your training now that the shutdown is coming to an end?
Of course you can add more questions than this, but this is a good place to start. When you gather all the necessary information, you can then start to make an informed decision about how you want to move forward with your clients. You can even use this survey to onboard new clients who are also coming out of quarantine.
You Assign Movements or Weights That Are Too Difficult For Them
You’ve probably experienced this yourself if you’re getting back to the gym after a long absence. The weight you left off with a few months ago doesn’t feel the same today. Don’t be overeager and assign your clients with exercises or weights that are going to be too heavy for them. Realistically with almost all of your clients you’ll have to bump them down a bit, perhaps even regressing the movements that were pretty easy for them a few months ago.
For example, if your clients haven’t been lifting weights for a few months and have only been doing bodyweight exercises, it’s not a good idea to immediately assign a barbell complex on their first day back—no matter how eager and up to the task they may seem. The same goes for weight lifting exercises like the deadlift, hip thrust, squat, etc. Whatever their PR was before the COVID shutdown likely is no longer their goal weight. It’s best to be conservative and play it safe. The last thing you want is for your client to get injured because their body isn’t prepared for particular positions or weights.
You Program Workouts That Are Too Intense
Similarly, your clients’ cardiovascular capacity will not be the same. Don’t expect them to be running sprints or crushing the assault bike at the same pace they were before they were stuck at home for three months. Be realistic with the level of intensity you assign to your clients. They need a little time to ease back into the groove of working out regularly. The last thing you want is for your client to puke on the floor of the gym because you pushed them too hard. Start easy and consistently check in with your clients to make sure they’re feeling ok as the workout goes on.
You Take on Too Many New Clients
It can be very tempting to accept any and all clients when you first get back into the groove of training. You might be short on money. You might just feel eager to jump back in the game. But don’t overload yourself with so many new clients that you end up having trouble balancing it all. While you do need to make a living and support yourself financially, you don’t want to take on so much work that you can properly serve your clients what they need and deserve.
While it’s a perfectly intelligible idea to look for new clients and bump up your marketing and advertising efforts, make sure you’re truthful and realistic with yourself about how many more new clients you can take on. And keep in mind that onboarding new clients will take extra time and energy that you may not have right now. Chasing success is all well and good, but it should never be at the price of your clients.
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