Mindful Training: Maximize Your Clients’ Results and Improve Your Value as a Personal Trainer
Your clients pay you the big bucks to get results, right? Exercise and training the body is like anything else that is done in life: the more you focus, the more successful the results. Improve your clients’ cognition, body awareness, proprioception and overall results. And here’s the bonus: providing these benefits for your clients will improve YOUR value as a fitness professional.
Mindfulness and meditation seem to be popular buzz words and all the rage lately. Your clients have surely heard that ultra-successful people like Oprah, the late Steve Jobs, hip-hop mogul Russel Simmons, and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as tons of top athletes and CEOs are daily meditators. So let’s be a part of the buzz and incorporate mindful techniques into our training.
I have to thank retired psychologist Dr. Michael Mantell for this blog idea. Dr. Mantell is now a Transformation Behavioral Coach and highly involved in the fitness industry. He is a former consultant for ACE, a frequent guest on national TV shows and also a contributor for Total Gym, as well as dozens of fitness publications. Dr. Mantell was presenting at Rancho La Puerta Fitness Spa in Mexico where I am fortunate enough to work. He was in the gym while I was training a guest and he later approached me saying something like, “I was so impressed with how much you incorporated mental cues into everything you had your client do physically.” His comments were flattering and it got me thinking about how my training style has evolved over the past 22 years.
Meditation has taught me to live more mindfully (and more peacefully) and thus more focused. This new style of living has increased the quality of my client interaction immensely. Pilates has taught me the invaluable principle of always focusing on the muscle, not the movement. Instead of cuing my client to move equipment from A to B, I instruct them to contract the muscle we’re working and the body moves as a byproduct. It may sounds simple, but this small change in perception takes an exercise from mindless movement to mindful training of a client’s body.
Here is how I would teach my client Suzy, a simple standing biceps curl. Let’s start with getting Suzy present by having her focus on what I call an “athletic” posture.
“OK Suzy, soft knees, hips back, equal weight through all four corners of your feet and show me a strong, neutral spine.”
“Next, before you contract the working muscle, simultaneously start your exhale and “set” your core by gently drawing your navel to spine and engaging the pelvic floor muscles.”
“Now Suzy, focus on the muscle that is creating the movement and start your biceps contraction. Feel the biceps begin to shorten as you contract.”
“Throughout the biceps contraction, continue your exhale with a relaxed face while you accentuate the navel drawing to the spine and lifting of the pelvic floor.”
“At the peak contraction, give the biceps an internal “squeeze and hold” for a good second and the navel and pelvic floor one last tug.” (see video for this one!)
“Visualize the biceps lengthening as you lower the weight down with a long, deep inhale through your nose.”
I will often have Suzy close her eyes on a few reps to truly feel the work from the inside as well as minimizing external distractions. In addition, I will use touch for tactile feedback especially during the “squeeze and hold” phase.
I am constantly giving my clients things to focus on to keep them present. If they’re focused on their body, breathing, the muscle contraction etc., guess what they’re not focused on? Something they did at work, the kids, what they’re making for dinner, grocery lists or anything in the past or future.
One last thing. The practice of meditation will enhance mindful living. I specialize in teaching meditation to people who think they could never meditate, because that was me once. Now I give credit and thanks to my daily meditation practice (of also 22 years) and my extensive Pilates training.
My CD, Mindfulness Meditation – A simple, practical guide to a profound, powerful practice has helped thousands. Please contact me if you’d like more focus and peace in your life.
JayDee Cutting III, MBA is an Educator for the American Council On Exercise and holds 12 fitness certifications including Pilates, yoga, personal training, lifestyle and weight management. JayDee is a Total Gym master trainer and spokesmodel since 2004. He lectures and teaches wellness at Rancho La Puerta Fitness Spa and is featured in over 10 fitness DVDs and over 40 fitness television programs. He developed his own Coregolf Fitness Program and founded the NiceDogYoga Company. His mission statement is: “My passion is inspiring people to enhance their lives through wellness, creating healthier, happier, higher qualities of life.”