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Thoughts on motivation April 29, 2008

Posted by Matt Brown in Fitness.
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I’m currently working with a client in a rehabilitation clinic and for the past couple of weeks we’ve been having a problem. Every time we’re about to begin some sort of walking drill, which she needs to do if she wants to get better, she begins to feel sick. Now the first time this happened, I chalked it up to a cold or something, but this has been going on for a couple of weeks now and I’m starting to think that she just doesn’t want to work. That got me thinking about what I could do to motivate her.

I’ve had experience training people before, but not in a clinical setting. I teach kids boxing at a gym near school and it goes without saying it’s a very different environment. Almost all of the class is male and between the ages of 12 and 16. By and large, I run the class like I would most sport practices. I push them hard till there covered in sweat and giving me dirty looks. When we talk, it’s usually me correcting something or some guy humor. And when they slack off or don’t do what I say? I yell at them. You’d be surprised how loud I can get.

Absolutely none of that prepared me to deal with my client. I can’t very well yell at her for not exercising. After all, there are very real limits to what she is able to do. Ultimately, all I was able to do was say “Okay, we’ll do something else today,” and move on. I can support her and encourage her, but I can’t order her around. It just wouldn’t work.

I guess what I’m rambling about is something we all know but probably don’t think about much. We can’t and don’t train everyone the same way. What makes a personal trainer more than just a person who knows how to lift weights is the ability to work with everyone from a top athlete getting ready for competition, to a senior citizen trying to become more independent, to an obese kid who just wants his weight to be gone and be able to give them a workout that will accomplish whatever their goals are.