Certified personal trainers have a unique opportunity when working with clients who spend time on the greens, says golf professional Andia Winslow, an NASM Golf Fitness Specialist and fitness trainer. “You can empower these clients to think of themselves—and to train—as athletes,” she says.
“This paradigm shift,” explains Winslow, “will impact how recreational golfers prime their bodies pre-round and properly recover post.” An insufficient or nonexistent “prehabilitation” or warmup, she says, is often the cause of injuries that golfers blame on overuse. “Golfers hop out of the car, head straight to the tee and expect their bodies to perform seamlessly in a move that is highly unnatural. Fit pros can help re-educate the golf masses by rhetorically asking, ‘How would an elite athlete prepare for a round of golf?’ and then creating programming to set their clients up for success.”
American Fitness asked Winslow for advice on putting this paradigm shift into practice in the gym to help golfers improve their swing. Here are some of her suggestions:
Train in multiple planes. “The golf swing is a compound movement that engages the body through several planes of motion simultaneously,” notes Winslow. These forces are key in any type of sports moves, such as making lateral cuts in soccer and football or doing leaps and landings in basketball. “Footwork makes the dream work!” she adds. Ankle mobility, she says, should be a key area of focus prior to golf season.
Build foundational strength. “A stronger and more sound base will help prevent injury and other compensations that will creep into the golf swing on-course,” she says. “Strength helps, sure, but it’s lower-body stability and controlled rhythm that really create and maintain power and speed during the swing.” Design programming to improve stability of the hips and core, as well as train the glutes and hamstrings.
Speed it up. “Here’s a surprising and fun way to train as an ‘athlete’ golfer: track-and-field sprint training!” says Winslow, who first ran barefoot when cross-training with Brooks Johnson, a “Jesse Owens Olympic Hall of Fame” Track & Field Coach and a coach for USA Track & Field.
“The same strong lower bodies developed in speed training will benefit golfers in remarkable ways.” Sprinting and speed, she explains, involve kinematic sequencing, conservation of angular momentum and maximum velocity: all things that are needed to create the torque required to deliver a powerful swing.
Pick up a club. Even if you’re not a great golfer, taking golf lessons can prep you to communicate the nuances of proper golf form. Obtaining NASM’s GFS can deepen your understanding, too.
“I love that the GFS meets at the intersection of traditional training and athletics,” says Winslow. “It’s a unique opportunity to better learn the language and real-world application of sport and performance.”
To learn more about the Golf Fitness Specialization, go to nasm.org/gfs or call 800-460-6276.
Avoiding Sexual Harassment in the Gym
Given the close relationships that fit pros develop with members and clients, it’s particularly important to create a plan to prevent sexual harassment in the fitness workplace—and shut it down if it happens.
“Fitness professionals may find themselves in challenging positions that other employees don’t face,” says Josh Leve, founder and CEO of the Association of Fitness Studios (afsfitness.com). People spend hours working out in close proximity. Their attire is more revealing than “business casual.” Clients may see fit pros as friends and confidants. It can be easy to let down your guard, but all it takes is one wrong look, social media post, text, joke or comment to ruin your reputation. Leve’s advice:
Read up on harassment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website (eeoc.gov) offers clarifying resources, as well as harassment-prevention training programs from the EEOC Training Institute. Discuss the topic in staff meetings, including whom employees should go to with concerns. Get the dialogue started with “See Something? Say Something!” (below).
Spell out boundaries. Contracts should state that relationships between fit pros and clients will be professional and will focus on health and fitness goals. (AFS can help you find legal counsel.) When hiring, background and reference checks should be standard procedure, and employee handbooks should include an official complaint process.
Check your insurance plan. AFS works with the Sports and Fitness Insurance Corporation (sportsfitness.com), which recommends that all trainers and club facilities have general and personal liability insurance, including coverage for sexual abuse and molestation—yes, even if you’d never cross that line. Make sure the policy you are considering includes this coverage.
Leve admits that it can be challenging to stay at arm’s length with clients whom you genuinely like, but it’s up to you to draw and redraw that line as often as necessary. “At the end of the day, you want to give your client the best workout possible,” he says. Stick to what’s in your scope of practice as a fit pro, and you won’t stray into the gray.
See Something? Say Something!
Taking the steps in “Avoiding Sexual Harassment in the Gym” (above) may require some time, but you can raise awareness right away. First, keep in mind that not all harassers are men, not all victims are women, and not all issues are with the opposite sex.
If a client crosses the line with you, address it immediately. Say, “I’m not comfortable with that,” and redirect the conversation back to the workout.
If you see a member crossing the line, tell management right away, but keep it calm and confidential. That’s easier to do if you catch it early. Your barometer: Trust your gut. If you’re uncomfortable, or you think anyone else is (even if it’s a bystander), do something. Perception can make or break your brand.
CHECK IN, WORK OUT
Anyone who travels regularly—or works with clients who do—understands how quickly fitness can take a back seat when you’re on the road, says Nick Vay, TRX® director of North American sales. A shared commitment to making fitness “more accessible to all” led TRX to partner with Westin Hotels & Resorts in January 2018 to provide a 21st century solution. “We want to create world-class training areas so guests can continue to make fitness a priority, even when traveling,” says Vay.
The initiative scales across more than 200 WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studios worldwide, enabling travelers (clients and fit pros alike) to continue training without having to bring along their own equipment.
For clients staying at a Westin, you can offer motivation and guidance remotely, building a workout around TRX’s full line of equipment, including the TRX Suspension Trainer™, foam rollers, slam and medicine balls, kettlebells and battle ropes. When you’re the Westin guest, try some of the hundreds of functional exercises accessible via the TRX app, which offers in-ear audio coaching and instructional videos. This year, your favorite vacay souvenir may be a fresh, new workout program. Learn more at westin.com/TRX.
Indoor Cycling Shout-Outs
Overheard in cycling class…
FIND THE SEAT SWEET SPOT:
“Look at your feet when pedaling. You should see your laces for about 50%–75% of one revolution. If you don’t see them for that long, your seat’s too far forward.”
GET TO THE GLUTES:
“To avoid overfocusing on your quads, try to pedal without pushing down excessively: Use your foot to ‘scoop’ on the upswing, to drive the pedal around. Pretend you’re trying to scrape gum off your shoe!”
For more tips on kicking up your cycling cues, see “Power in Motion.”
The Best of Both Worlds
WHAT SOLO AND GROUP EX INSTRUCTORS CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER.
In a study published recently in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association [2017; 117, e17–e25], Dayna M. Yorks, DO, investigated how group exercise affected quality of life for 69 first- and second-year medical students—a group well-known for their high levels of stress. Over a 12-week period, 25 participated in fitness classes, 29 worked out alone or with up to two partners, and a third group of 15 didn’t exercise regularly.
While the class group exercised about 1 hour less per week than the “loners,” it was the class participants who enjoyed a significant decrease in stress and increase in quality of life (physical, mental and emotional). However, the study authors noted, “These findings should not be interpreted as a condemnation of individual exercise.” To be sure, Yorks appreciates both settings, as she is not only an AFAA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer but also a group ex instructor with ACE and Les Mills. Yorks suggests group ex instructors and personal trainers can learn from each other’s strengths to build better relationships with their members or clients.
FOR PERSONAL TRAINERS . . .
Recognize the importance of the workout experience. Introduce clients to each other. Offer a small-group session once a week. Maybe even encourage clients to take a class. Yorks asserts that this can augment their training, while building the sense of community shown to lower stress and boost quality of life.
FOR GROUP FITNESS INSTRUCTORS . . .
Yorks suggests reflecting on the important impact you have on individual lives. “To help people fall in love with fitness because it changes them emotionally is a gift,” she says. It will also keep them coming back. To bring personalized attention to your classes, get to know members by name, and offer individual notes on how well they’re doing in a particular area.
When all exercisers in the club feel valued as individuals and as part of a larger community, magic happens, says Yorks.
Lunge Lessons: It’s Time to Lean In
This may come as a surprise to some clients: It’s not a crime if the knee extends over the toes a bit during a lunge. “You don’t want this to be excessive,” notes Mike Fantigrassi, NASM-CPT and Master Instructor. “But as long as the form is good and weight is balanced—and the person doesn’t have knee issues—this isn’t a problem.” Here are a few things he says are frequently off-kilter—and how to cue clients to get this move right.
Suggest they start in reverse. Fantigrassi says it’s often easier for people to step back into a lunge than to step forward. Stepping forward requires a more forceful drive, which can be destabilizing. If they’re not up to the task, go back to squats to build strength.
Encourage them to lean in. If you were stepping onto a box, you’d naturally lean forward, loading the front leg. This is what you want to do in a lunge, too, to target the glutes. The shin angle should match the angle of the torso. (An upright torso would target quads instead.)
Don’t forget the feet. If you see the rear heel lifting and the back leg won’t stay bent, the step is too long. If the weight on the front foot is on the ball of the foot and the knee is excessively past the toes, the step is too short. The front leg should be positioned so the back leg is basically functioning as a kickstand. Clients should almost be able to lift that rear foot.
Weight it right. To progress the lunge by adding load, clients should start with a weight in each hand, which is less destabilizing than a bar across the shoulders. Once they’ve mastered both of these, they can try a sandbag or two on either shoulder to challenge stability even more.
Know when to drop the weights. Side and crossover lunges are variations that challenge stability, but it’s not easy to do them safely while holding heavy weights.
Fitness for All: Welcome Everybody to Your Club!
Fitness pros who work with people with disabilities have an opportunity to help people become more independent in their everyday lives, says Jared Ciner, NASM-CPT, founder and director of SPIRIT Club, 80% of whose members have a disability. The fitness success of these clients can affect their ability to walk or to feel comfortable in a social setting. Being inclusive, he adds, means more than complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA.gov) by adding ramps and parking spots. To truly be inclusive:
Start with the culture. “Use positive, person-first language that makes people feel supported and proud of their accomplishments,” says Ciner. If you’re unsure how to speak about someone’s disability in a sensitive way, just ask the person.
Focus on functional fitness. Most people will have more motivation to complete an exercise if they can understand how it relates to their everyday life. And proper execution can become easier when an exercise is made functional. For example, getting up and down from a chair when practicing squats can improve form and appreciation for the exercise.
Clear up your cuing.Footwork can be confusing. Try placing nonslip colored circles on the floor as a visual aid. (Think of the game TWISTER.) You can see this strategy on
spirit-club.com’s homepage video.
Ciner would love to see more clubs actively seeking members from this underserved population. “If a gym is going to be reflective of society, which I think is the ideal situation, then about 20% of your membership should have a disability,” he says. “Integrating people with disabilities into your programs will impact both your business and society in a positive way.”
3 Reasons Why No One Reads Your Messages
She’s got places to go, things to do: How can you get her to click on you?
As a rule, fit pros are fantastic face-to-face persuaders. Your personality is your brand. But if your go-to opener on a marketing email or other digital outreach is “Hi! I’m so-and-so with such-and-such club, and I’m an expert in blah-blah-blah,” you’re wasting your virtual breath.
Online, you get about 2 seconds—or 10 words—to make a first impression, says Erin Gargan, author of Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace (Lioncrest Publishing 2017). Coincidentally, that’s about how much of your message will appear in the preview or notification pane of the recipient. “We get 300 messages a day, so our brains are rewiring to survive inbox onslaught,” she says. “Your whole goal is to maximize the ‘power of the preview’ and to stop that scroll.” Here she shares 3 common flubs and their fixes:
Mistake 1: You talk about yourself. Don’t use the word “I” at all; the readers don’t know you! Lead with a proper noun (person, place or thing) of personal significance to your recipient: a city, a location, a friend’s name, an event. “The goal is to get them to lean in,” she says.
Mistake 2: You ask for something. Instead, offer them something useful—free. Share an article link or tip that might interest them. (Again, not about you!) “They’ll think, ‘I don’t know this person, and they gave me something. It’s mysterious,’ ” she says.
Mistake 3: You write a “book.” Make your message “shockingly brief.” Include the proper noun and helpful tip, as mentioned above, then sign off with your contact info (name, website, email, cell). That’s it. Just wait for a response, advises Gargan, who says this approach works for her. In fact, about 95% of the time, readers will visit her website (eringargan.com), watch a video, buy her book or book a gig.
“Use digital to ignite dialogue,” says Gargan. Pique the readers’ curiosity, so they’ll call you for an assessment, register for your demo or visit your event table. That’s when you can show your readers “who you are.” In person. Where you’re most persuasive. (Tip: Don’t dwell on your mistakes—in workouts or in digital outreach! For a quick recap of how to write better, check out Gargan’s “recipe” below.)
ERIN GARGAN’S 3-INGREDIENT RECIPE FOR DIGITAL OUTREACH
Now that you know what “compensations” you’re making (see “Why No One Reads Your Messages” above), use these cues to write better messages to potential clients and business partners.
- Lead with a proper noun that will pique their interest.
- Offer something; ask for nothing.
- Sign off with your contact info.
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Your friend John says you’re a mountain biker. Here’s a blog on “best-kept-secret rides” in Laguna Beach. Cheers!
These approaches may seem counter-intuitive, but they’ve proved to be effective. “I have A/B tested over 1,000 outbound sales messages across multiple industries to uncover optimal techniques to improve cold-outreach response rates between 40% and 65%,” says Gargan, “and these are the approaches that worked.”
Innovation: A Breath of Fresh AIRE
When Mario Scade founded AIRE Fitness 3 years ago, his vision was to build a gym inside a shipping container, allowing easy access to professional indoor gym equipment in any outdoor setting. “Right now, we’re building two units for YMCAs in Houston that were shut down due to flooding. We can turn their parking lots into a fitness center,” he says.
In addition to providing fitness access to lower-income neighborhoods, AIRE Fitness has set up containers as an “instant” performance center for universities. (This can save them millions of dollars and allow them to bring the gym to the athletes right next to the practice field.) AIRE Fitness containers also supply outdoor enthusiasts with “indoor” cross-training options, but in the fresh air of a park or recreational center. There’s even an AIRE Fitness studio on a rooftop in San Diego! And fitness pros can more easily open their own facility: “All they need to do is find a space where they can place the unit, and if things don’t work out, they can just move it somewhere else,” says Scade.
Each AIRE Fitness unit includes a music system, fitness equipment and security cameras, and soon there will be customized programming created by NASM faculty instructor Fabio Comana, MA, MS. “I want to make fitness accessible for everybody in every neighborhood,” says Scade. Track his progress or join in the mission on airefitness.com.