Chapter 3: Communications and Teaching Techniques


What you will learn:

  • How personal trainers can succeed by demonstrating communication through all 4 stages of the client-trainer relationship
  • How trainers can be more effective with clients from different ethnic backgrounds
  • How trainers should maintain their professional boundaries and still express empathy.


    1. Stages of the Client-Trainer Relationship

      1. Introduction
        1. Build Rapport
          1. a relationship marked by mutual understanding and respect
          2. first impressions matter
        2. 4 stages
          1. Rapport
          2. Investigation
          3. Planning
          4. Action
        3. Excellent communication is essential thru all stages
      2. Rapport Stage
        1. First Impressions
          1. Physical appearance, facial expressions, self-confidence and attire should all be professional.
          2. Personal trainers should inform clients about their educations, training, certifications , qualifications and work experience
        2. Verbal, non-verbal communications
          1. use vocabulary that the client can easily understand. If you need to use complex exercise vocabulary, explain to the client what it is.
        3. Non-verbal components
          1. voice quality should be firm and confident
          2. make direct and friendly eye contact
          3. facial expression should display concern, thoughtfulness and enjoyment
          4. hand gestures should be relax and fluid
          5. body position should be open, well balanced and erect
        4. Personality Styles
          1. Adapt your communication and teaching techniques to the personality style of the clients’
          2. Personality Styles (scale)
            1. dominance scale: how strongly a person is driven to influence thinking and action in clients
            2. sociability scale: tendency to express openly and be extroverted and outgoing with others. (F.3-2, T.3-2, F.3-3)
      3. Investigation Stage
        1. Gather personal information, some of which can be sensitive
          1. medical concerns
          2. fitness assessment results
          3. body weight
          4. exercise history
        2. Gathering Information
          1. its important to ask clients about their previous disruption to exercise adherence. What made them stop or quit?
        3. Demonstrating effective listening
          1. Listening carefully and closely to words and emotions that client is expressing and the feelings behind those words
            1. listen with empath and put yourself in the clients shoes
          2. Respond to client answers
            1. paraphrasing- restating clear and concisely what the client told you
            2. questioning- open ended questions without a right or wrong answer
            3. reflecting- demonstrate understanding and seek clarification
            4. summarizing- summarize the key points that affect exercise program design
          3. Personal trainers can also share their own stories to forge a deeper bond with the clients. As long as they don’t make it all about them.
        4. Responding to difficult disclosures
          1. if a client reveals concerning medical information, then refer them back to their Dr. to get medical clearance to exercise.
          2. depression and eating disorders should also be referred back to the health care professionals
      4. Planning Stage
        1. Setting Goals
          1. SMART Goals
            1. Specific- clean and unambiguous goals
            2. Measurable- progress can be seenAttainable- realistic and reachable goal
            3. Relevant- focused around the needs and abilities of the client
            4. Time-bound- estimated time for completion of goals should be evaluated for progress regularly
          2. Process Goals- something a client does
            1. walk 2 miles 5 times per week
          3. Product Goals- something a client achieves
            1. Pounds lost or weight lifted
        2. Generating and discussing alternatives
          1. Time consuming- the most common cause for program dropouts
            1. Adjust programs to make them doable
        3. Formulating a Plan
          1. keep in mind the client goals when coming up with a plan
          2. provide a copy of the plan to the client
          3. prepare client for the gym environment
            1. gyms can be intimidating for first timers
            2. teach etiquette, give tips and suggest proper attire so the client will fit in without feeling uncomfortable
        4. Evaluating the exercise program
          1. periodic reassessments are needed to evaluate progress.
          2. evaluate program for challenge and adherence and continue to revise
        5. Using motivational interviewing techniques.
          1. Motivational interviewing- a speaking method that motivates the client to change their behavior and mindset.
          2. Method techniques
            1. ask probing questions- open ended questions about activity levels, health concerns and physical activity history.
            2. listen effectively
            3. provide education information (pamphlets)
            4. keep the conversation friendly- express empathy
            5. build self-confidence
            6. encourage clients to generate ideas
          3. Support the clients point of view but challenge unhealthy and sedentary lifestyles and behavior
      5. Action Stage
        1. Settings up self-monitoring systems
          1. provide a system for the client to record data daily
          2. self-monitoring is the most effective way to support behavior change and adherence to exercise programs
            1. it also increases self-awareness
            2. enhances client-trainer communication
        2. Individualizing teaching techniques
          1. Personal Trainers teach motor skills
            1. correct lifting techniques
            2. using exercise machinery
            3. doing flexibility exercises
          2. Personal Trainers provide information in the cognitive domain
            1. explaining health problems and their impact
            2. physical activity and the physiological variables
            3. preventing injuries
          3. Clients should feel successful in the mastery of new exercises
            1. it improves clients self-efficacy
            2. clients put in more effort to meet challenges and expectations
        3. “Tell, Show, do”
          1. “Tell me and I’ll forget, Show me and I may remember, Involve me and I’ll understand” — Chinese Proverb
          2. Motor learning:  process of acquiring and improving motor skills
            1. Remind beginners that it will take time and lots of practice to improve motor skills
            2. Introduce new skills slowly and clearlyallow clients the opportunity for focused practice
            3. Allow clients the opportunity for focused practice
              1. Personal trainers should provide constructive feedback
        4. Providing Feedback
          1. gives reinforcement for what was done well
          2. corrects any errors in training
          3. motivates clients to continue practicing and improving
          4. limit feedback to a few points, do not overload them
          5. Personal trainers sometimes ‘touch’ clients to help learn exercises and point out where they should feel the resistance
            1. take permission during your initial interview
        5. Using effective modeling
          1. its good for business to model what you preach
          2. it motivates clients by looking at you, that it is possible
          3. clients who see people like themselves will develop more confidence
        6. Behavior Contracts
          1. work best when behavioral goals are realistic and clients feel motivated to earn the reward
          2. social support, is better offered in an accepting, affirming manner rather than via  contract
          3. These contracts offer extrinsic motivation
            1. people who exercise to received an external reward
              1. free training sessions
              2. win a contest
              3. movie tickets etc..
          4. Intrinsic motivation:  those who exercise and workout because they truly enjoy it, the competitive nature and it feels good
    2. Strategies for effective communication

      1. Cultural competence increases empathy and rapport
        1. cultural competence- ability to communicate and work effectively with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds
        2. Personal Trainers should acknowledge their own biases
      2. Difficult clients may require more effort
        1. clients with bad experiences from other trainers or generally in the exercise domain, will be critical and need more understanding and professionalism to deal with
        2. ask questions to expose their problems
      3. Empathy and rapport enhance adherence
        1. establishing a good relationship increases adherence to the program
          1. effective listening
          2. non judgemental mind
          3. reflect and summarize information given
      4. Professional boundaries enhance the effectiveness of personal trainers
        1. keep a professional distance
        2. its normal to experience friendliness in a client-trainer relationship over time
        3. persona involvement occurs when trainers and clients become friends outside of the training or become sexually involved
        4. empathize with out becoming personal
    3. Stages of learning and their applications to the client trainer relationship

      1. Fitts and Posner model for motor skills
        1. cognitive stage of learning: client understanding a new skill
        2. associative stage of learning:  client masters the basic skills and needs feedback from the personal trainer to refine them.
        3. autonomous stage of learning: clients perform motor skills effectively and naturally while the trainer monitors.
    4. How to incorporate effective communication and teaching techniques into daily interactions with clients

      1. Personal trainers should periodically inform clients of their own education and alternative learning they are participating in
      2. Personal Trainers should prepare for each client sessions mindfully and attentively
      3. Personal trainers should ask clients for feedback on their own performance (trainer).
        1. written or form based feedback is effective
      4. Personal trainers should use electronic communication with discretion otherwise mentioned by the client
      5. Personal trainers should really make training FUN!

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