Over the last few months I’ve encountered a wide variety of clients. These individuals come to me to get them where they want to go; a middle-aged man wants to lose his gut, or a middle-aged woman wants to get stronger. Perhaps a post-partum mother of three wants to feel sexy, or a burned-out runner wants to improve her running times. In the midst of all this, I’ll see young, driven clients with previous athletic experience.
Below, I’ve listed a number of realizations I had working with these clients.
1. There are fewer physical limitations.
If I can finish an assessment with a client and the only noticeable shortcoming is weight training experience, I have very little to challenge me in developing an exercise routine for them. I hardly need to consider if they’ll have issues with over-head pressing, or their hips are structurally weak, or they have glaring discrepancies in strength from their left to their right sides. By the end of this assessment, if my only realization is that they need to put more work in, their progress is smooth-sailing. And as long as I don’t hurt you, I can be a terrible trainer and you’ll still make improvements.
To me, it’s like using a back-hoe vs. using a shovel to dig a hole; sure, I may have a quick learning-curve to use the machinery, but hey! This contraption is made to dig holes. I put the bucket down, and look! A hole.
Shovels don’t quite work so easily.
2. Athletes, while potentially inexperienced, adapt quickly.
There’s a major difference between building on something that’s already there versus trying to build something that’s not built.
With athletes, I very rarely need to worry about these clients sitting back into a squat and falling down. It’s easy to coach distribution of weight when this client is mobile and agile enough to, you know, safely balance themselves differently. In time, these individuals can progress from calisthenics, to dumbbell training, and onward to compound movements in very short order. Safety is rarely an issue outside of the usual risky exercises. This means I can get away with crappy cues, improper technique training, and over-training, with very few ramifications. If you, athletes, eat enough and sleep enough, your progress will make me look great for essentially only being a slightly-more-educated-than-you cheerleader.
As you can imagine, this is not okay.
3. There are far fewer outside factors inhibiting progress.
If we’re strictly putting athletes in this box-- young (18-25), still active, and in school or at home with their parents-- then it’s safe to assume there are very little things inhibiting these clients’ progress.
Working a job and being a full-time student is stressful. Really, it is. I empathize with that.
Yet, these clients don’t have a house payment, the potentiality for being laid-off, or they’re not paying for kids to go to day-care or college (sometimes at the same time!). They don’t need to worry about taking blood-pressure medication every morning, and what the ramifications of their diets can have on side-effects. They don’t need to be up at 6 am to ready their kids for school, work all day, rush through a workout, and head home to handle the household.
Believe it or not, it’s much more difficult being dominant over your physical health when the reality of your existence relies on the priority of other things, first.
With my athletes, light conversation and a crazy workload are enough for them to progress. For my other clientele, my approach has to be entirely different. There are other needs that I have to meet for these individuals to progress.
So for all my athletes reading this, take heart; you’re fun clients that can grow exceedingly quickly, and your progress can be astounding. Maybe I’ll even get you to the Olympics!
And for all my non-athletes trying to be the best they can be, know that it’s my passion making you feel comfortable in your own skin. We may not be training for the Games, but we are definitely earning “the gold” for being better than we were yesterday. And that’s pretty cool.