Asking for Help: The Role of a Trainer or Coach
Richard Kelly 27th December 2019
Join and gym or open up Instagram and it’s pretty hard to avoid coming across a personal trainer or fitness coach. We are everywhere these days. A simple Google search shows that personal trainer harassment returns twenty-two million results. A great deal of these posts are people arrogantly claiming they know what they are doing. I have to say that this is laughable. Even I recognise that I could benefit from external support, even in the form of observing my form and giving me a non-biased direction towards training. For anyone without the experience of training many different individuals and without the proper qualifications to claim that they know what they are doing is ludicrous.
I have no doubt that there are many instances of trainers harassing gym members, but I’ll tell you for a fact the vast majority of times a trainer approaches someone in a gym is because that member either looks lost or is doing something in a way that could hurt themselves or others around them.
The difficulty comes for people who are fairly proficient with their training, but who need less guidance on form and activity in session, and more of an overview look at general training direction. Take, for example, the person who is consistent with their training and always trains well, but is either stuck on a plateau or could be more proficient in the way they approach training.
These types of people tend to fall between the gaps when it comes to training guidance. They do need help, a larger catalogue of exercises and a different approach in training sessions, perhaps, but can quite often be unaware of it. After all, if they have success with some training methods its very likely they don’t realise the benefits that switching things up could have on their progress.
A trainer or coach would benefit them hugely. That external perspective has a great positive impact on your training. A trainer will have no bias on how you have reached the point you’ve already got to, and can add additional value to your training which can help take you further.
A few years ago I worked with a triathlete. She already had a cycle and run coach, and did two run and two cycle sessions per week, one each with the coach, as well as seeing me twice a week and doing a swim session per week. That’s seven training sessions a week, and four of them with a coach or trainer.
The reason we were all involved was to increase her performance in triathlons. She could run and cycle already, but the additions of these two coaches boosted her performances. My role was to increase her strength, mobility and endurance. This is more challenging than you might realise. Training like this can cause muscle damage and soreness. If we did a heavy squat session and the following day involved a long ride at a specific speed with the cycle coach I would impact her ability to perform well in that ride. Therefore we had to be clever in planning the best way to see her improve in the gym without diminishing her performance improvements outside of it.
If you are undertaking something like this on your own it becomes very very difficult if you don’t have an overall plan of action. Most people do not know how to gear their training plans so that not only have they created the ability to put in big sessions and beneficial lesser sessions, as well as cycle a whole phase of training to peak a few times in the phase. For this you require someone with genuine knowledge of periodised programming.
Equally I have worked with a number of clients who have seen initial weight loss through training and then plateaued, hitting the point where they still want further weight loss and yet their efforts do not seem to progress them towards it. They get stuck into the cycle of doing something that once worked, but does not seem to be making any impact at all. In this instance a trainer would also be able to help.
Trainers have a much more nuanced understanding of the body and its mechanisms, because they have taken the time to learn and understand those mechanisms far more than most people have. They can identify when it is time to pivot your training plan, explain what will happen after this and then what is to be expected as a result. In every instance it is about building trust between the trainer and the client, and keeping a clear line of communication between the two.
And communication is a two way street. I love it when someone asks me for help with their training and is very clear on what they want and how often they can commit. If someone tells me that they can commit to one session a week that is absolutely fine, as long as they can stick to that and make an effort to do the work outside of that session that requires them to make progress. As long as we are clear where my role is and what approach I will take then this works perfectly. Don’t assume that trainer will have no interest unless you offer them multiple sessions each week and carte blanche to have total control of the training. I have that with other clients too, where it is appropriate, but the key thing is that the way I work with a client has to work for both of us.
Don’t allow your progress in the gym to stagnate due to a lack of guidance, and don’t be afraid to approach a trainer if you think they are a good fit for you and can benefit you.
If you feel that working with a personal trainer could benefit you then contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a consultation and see how we can benefit you.
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