Mobility, Flexibility, Improving Movement…call it what you will, but the idea of reducing stiffness in the human body has become the “go-to” method for fitness coaches when it comes to preventing injury – and that’s great, but it will NEVER work if we don’t stop making these three mistakes…
1. Assuming our clients understand their own bodies
Feedback from the client is paramount when it comes to helping them effectively, but when we get feedback like “okay”, “alright”, “good” and “not bad”, getting the details we need can be hard.
But we’re making the mistake of assuming that our clients have a good enough understanding of (and connection with) their bodies, to be able to describe in words how they feel.
If they don’t have this connection or understanding of their body they’ll never be able to give us the feedback we’re looking for because they cannot describe what they cannot feel.
2. Thinking that more questions is the solution
Again, if our clients cannot feel the subtleties of what’s going on in their bodies, they cannot describe it, so asking more questions will not help the situation. And different individuals may have different reasons for not talking about how their bodies feel.
For example, children may not have the vocabulary or the emotional maturity to explain themselves, whereas someone who has been through trauma may have deeper issues that prevent them from either from connecting with their bodies in the first place, or vocalising the feeling to you (which is not about you or how safe you make them feel).
If we try to dig too deep just to get the feedback we want, we may end up labouring the point and putting our clients off at best, or alienating them at worst.
3. Relying on what the client says
Our clients can only give us the words that describe what they feel. If they can’t connect with their bodies, they can’t feel what we want them to, and if they can’t describe or say the words then if we wholly rely on their words to give us direction, we won’t be able to help them very easily.
At this point some coaches would resign themselves to the fact that if the client can’t give them the feedback they need then that’s “on them”. But we are fitness coaches for a reason. We LOVE helping people – and just because they can’t SAY something, it doesn’t mean that there’s no way to help them!
Here’s a few simple ways we can help them to develop a better understanding and connection with their bodies so they CAN give us the feedback we need:
1.Stop insisting on “correct” technique
There are plenty of times during a workout when correct technique is not important. Stretching is a great example. But when we tell our clients where they “should” be feeling a stretch or we “correct” their position, we’re actually fast tracking the disconnect between them and their bodies.
A simple language change from “should” to “it’s my intention that you feel it here” and giving them the permission to adjust themselves into a position where they can feel it there, helps them to connect to the subtle differences in how their body feels and THAT helps us get the feedback we’re looking for.
2. Add movement
The simple addition of movement to a stretch position not only reaches more areas of the body to stretch and allows the brain to release tightness we couldn’t have found through logic, but it deepens the connection between the client and their bodies because they’ll start paying attention to the slight changes in body position that create more or less of a stretch.
3. Look for non-verbal cues of discomfort
The human body reacts much quicker to danger, pain and discomfort than it takes to say “ouch”, so if we can look for subtle signs that our clients are struggling, that helps us get over the problem of relying on their words.
Simple things like a small grimace of the face or an slight avoidance of moving a joint or limb in a certain way are great cues to look out for.
We all know that fitness coaching is about much more than just planning and supervising exercise, but if we take a second to look a bit deeper, we’ll find more ways to help our clients…before they even know they need help – and that makes you look like a ROCKSTAR (and of course, delivers better results for them!)
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