Selling new clients is step one. Keeping your clients is a much harder step two. Most clients require new, fun challenges to be both entertained and to continually progress. One of my favorite ways to challenge my clients is to incorporate activity-specific exercises.
As a coach, you fulfill a teacher-like position to your clients by imparting knowledge about health, exercise, and nutrition. However, I think you’ll find it to be mutually beneficial to occasionally assume a student role and learn from your clients. Learn about their favorite activities, free time endeavours, and interests and capitalize that knowledge to make you a better coach! Incorporate exercises into your clients’ programs that are activity-specific. The addition of activity-specific exercise promotes performance enhancement and mimics actions from your clients’ favorite activities. This advice doesn’t just apply to clients that play sports, it also applies to the 68-year-old grandmother that wants to be able to pick her grandchildren up. These are all actions you can mimic in a gym.
Here are 3 easy ways to create activity-specific exercises for your clients to keep them engaged.
1) Take Away Environmental Factors
By taking away environmental factors, you will practice an action involved in an activity, but without the distractions (like other players on the field or on a different surface). Let’s start with a non-competitive activity example. Pretend you have a 40-year-old client that had a knee replacement surgery two years ago. He enjoys taking his dog out every day, even in the winter in New Hampshire where he mainly walks on ice and snow, but he’s worried about slipping on ice.
Any single-leg stability and balance exercise here is an activity-specific exercise you can do that mimics walking on ice without the ice (i.e. taking away environmental factors). Here is an example of a 3-way Tennis Ball Tap drill that will mimic the single leg stability needed to walk on ice, but can be performed in the gym:
2) Replace Equipment
Replacing activity equipment with gym equipment is one of the easiest ways to engage your clients with activity-specific exercises. Take a complex sport movement, such as the side bend of the tennis serve, and replace the tennis racquet with a dumbbell. Just like that, you have an activity-specific exercise! Here’s an example of a Dumbbell Side Bend Serve Drill that your tennis clients will love:
3) Simplify Motions
Oftentimes movements performed in physical activities are actually a mosaic of much simpler gym exercises. Look at a track and field hurdler. This is a very complex motion that involves a single leg jump, knee drive, and intermittent sprints among several other actions. The individual components of hurdling are familiar to coaches because you see and do them in the gym all the time. A much simpler gym exercise that mimics a similar motion of hurdling is a reverse lunge to knee drive. The next time you are programming for a hurdler, add in a reverse lunge to knee drive to engage your client with activity-specific exercise.
Try incorporating some activity-specific exercises into your client’s programs to increase your clients’ excitement and engagement. These tips and tricks can be even more beneficial if you point out the correlation between the exercise and activity for your client. Then your client is aware of how individualized you are creating his program and can appreciate and enjoy it that much more.