What to look for and how to choose your fitness instructor:
For all of you who know me, the fact that I am passionate about sharing my love for mindful, holistic, functional movement and forms of exercise do not come as a surprise. I have always been grateful when I’m surrounded by professionals who have the same devotion and ethos for exercising and offer their knowledge selflessly, abundantly to those who trust us with their fitness goals and health challenges as I do.
My quest of teaming up with highly qualified fitness experts is never-ending and from time to time it becomes challenging or even disheartening as we all don’t always share the same values and priorities. After 20 years of teaching experience and is incredibly privileged to have internationally-acknowledged masters in their fields as my teachers and mentors, I can definitely say that it takes so much more than certifications or good intentions to change someone’s life through your work. For all of you who have been trusting me as your fitness instructor over the years and for all the sports-, dance- and fitness professionals who honour me with their presence and chose me as their coach this month’s blog is dedicated to the art of teaching and what makes a trainer stand out of the crowd. It is not about me, nor a specific person; it is about all of you who don’t know what to look for and who to choose as your fitness instructor. It is an opportunity to give away some “secrets of the trade” and perhaps help you clarify what makes a fitness trainer… ”good at their job”.
1. The Quest of Knowledge is never-ending
A certification is without a doubt the very first prerequisite, however, it is not enough. When you first meet a trainer don’t be shy and ask about their studies and most importantly what the reason why they do what they do was. There are trainers who chose to collect certifications in order to make their resume look more attractive, and there are trainers who have spent time, invested their assets and experienced the life-changing benefits of Mind & Body such as Pilates and Yoga in their own bodies. It was their thirst for deeper knowledge that made them undergone a long-term Fitness Educational Program, researching and studying anatomy, kinesiology, and physical condition. These types of trainers never seize to work to enrich their knowledge, to improve their own physical condition and ability to move better, perform better and definitely keep themselves informed about everything new and worth-study about their craft. Always choose a trainer with a never-ending passion for their job.
2. Lead by Example
It is something that I just cannot stop comprehend ever! How is it possible to trust a fitness expert, a professional whose job is to promote correct alignment, efficient biomechanics and active lifestyle when this individual is chubby or has poor posture? What does this say about this trainer when he/she skips workouts and doesn’t lead a lifestyle that inspires self-respect, health and mindfulness? Would anybody trust an obese nutritionist? Same exactly applies to Mind&Body Fitness; Pilates and Yoga promote strong healthy muscles and a well-balanced musculoskeletal system that leads to correct posture and efficient pain-free movement. Additionally, it trains appropriate breathing patterns, therefore better cardiovascular activity. All of the above tend to turn the attention inwards, therefore, enhance body awareness and an overall sense of calmness and inner power. When you select a trainer seek for all these elements: do you see them? Words and theory have no substance if the person who presents them doesn’t own these qualities.
3. Ability to build Rapport
I often see trainers working with a client for the 3rd or 4th time and it is obvious that they don’t have a clear action plan, neither have they a mutual understanding what they want to achieve. They mix friendliness or even friendships with professionalism. Please do not misinterpret my statement; I am saying that regardless of how both parties feel, what they do in a fitness studio has to be very specific and goal-oriented otherwise it is neither effective nor sincere. Rapport is the harmonious and close connection among two or a group of people, in which effective communication, mutual respect, trust and understanding are constantly present while working for a common goal. A safe and proficient trainer will build rapport with his/her client from the very first day, making time to get to know the person without assumptions or prejudice obtaining information to evaluate the current physical activity and health status. A fitness professional has to clarify terms and conditions, mutual responsibilities and together with the client will identify risk factors and special conditions that require adjustments to the fitness-regime or even preclude the participation on a specific fitness program. Together will agree on an action plan that is fulfilling yet safe and appropriate for the practitioner implementing short-term goals with directions toward long-term achievements. Rapport is not just another term to make things formal or impersonal. On the contrary, it establishes trustful connections, true and meaningful bonds and long-term positive changes.
4. Coaching Skills
The title just says it all, yet nothing is self-understood and most frequently at the cost of the practitioners. For all of you who trust a trainer for your physical condition please keep the following information in mind when it comes to choosing the right trainer. If not in every field that involves the human body, but certainly in fitness and most specifically in what we call holistic fitness Methods the trainer has to observe and approach movement and body as a whole; spending one full hour of exercising working on repeatedly on variation of the same theme is not a balanced well prepared workout; in simple words if you spend one whole hour working on abdominals then something is wrong. Very often I meet Pilates trainers that use sophisticated anatomical terms or Pilates terminology without taking into consideration language barriers or the fact that not necessarily everybody has intermediate knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology. I am not saying that it is wrong, but have the responsibility to adjust our level of communication according to the person we have in front of us. We need to simplify, to define and correct in a non-judgmental supportive way that is specific and effective. When teaching a class a trainer has to move around, be able to see every single person, spot the mistakes and assist. What is a difference between watching a Youtube fitness class and a live one when the trainer just works-out along with the practitioners without spotting, assisting and correcting each and every individual? Lastly, a fitness professional has always to be well-prepared, knowing exercise progressions, adjusting the level when necessary and determine the appropriate amount of work for one session so that the client is challenged and invigorated.
To close this blog post I would like to say that a good trainer is the one that no matter what are the challenges he or she is always present heart and soul putting the welfare of the practitioner first and setting aside any ego or personal interest.
It gives me a tremendous joy to announce that Anassa’s Team of Trainers is welcoming two new entries, two highly qualified and talented experts in Mind & Body forms of Exercising, each and everyone with their own personality and spirit yet both very dedicated and passionate about the same goal – Safe, Efficient, Challenging and Effective Fitness. I couldn’t be happier to say that to both Elena Chizhova and Paula Uribe I found the qualities that make a trainer “good at their job!”