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The Importance of Microassessing Your Personal Training Clients

Strategies for Microassessing Your Clients

Exercise instruction, when done properly, requires that trainers microassess movements, as an ongoing best practice.

From the onset, trainers have to know all of the anatomy and functional methods to train clients. Once exercises have been selected as part of the program design, trainers instruct clients on the proper sequence of movements, positioning and movement-specific concerns. When we describe all of the elements of the instruct phase, we are really summarizing microassessments of movements- both in an overall way and from the client’s movements, specifically.

At NESTA, we have developed both our system of personal fitness training and our core philosophies based on science. We promote consistent themes as keys to our PFT program., from discussions about natural sciences to the art of program design. Assessments have been mentioned before, as were macro and microassessments. Macroassessments are the more formal assessments, such as biometrics, used to monitor responses to an exercise program. On a microassesment level, we would be referring to the nuts and bolts of personal fitness training – because this is where we evaluate “each rep of every set”.

You will be teaching, coaching, and instructing people to exercise in situations where there may be little or no past experience of regular physical activity in their background. Try to picture how difficult this could be for a client. Again, our clients don’t know HOW exercise works, but they will generally trust our knowledge if we have done our job as professionals. This need continues into the realm of exercise instruction. In fitness circles, we can use words like extension and adduction, but it is not typical of our clients to be the same way in their communications.

Therefore, we have a lot of work to do. We have to do all of the background work, to determine the needs of the client and to assess their current health values. Then, we select exercises and develop a program design. We set out to teach our clients new movements, armed with all that we know about forces, program design and professionalism.

There can be a tendency to either overthink this part of fitness leadership or in the case of less professional trainers, a level of apathy or negligence when working with a client. To help summarize exercise instruction, we would need to include an advanced ability to simply describe exercise movements, in layman’s terms. We would also include observation and evaluation, as required for proper instruction. This is the microassessment component, once again.

Lastly, we would then instruct the client on the proper execution of the desired movement. This may occur when first demonstrating an exercise for the client, or redirecting the client into a corrected movement pattern. This ability requires that observation and evaluation be constant. If your descriptions of the exercise are not clear, you may also be able to see this from the client’s body language or facial expression. It is a refined skill, but a necessary one for success.

You should recall that the instruct aspect of the NESTA system of personal fitness training, as it is one of the four keys to being a NESTA PFT. This key competency and non-negotiable expectation of the PFT is a standard, much in the same way that we promote observing the golden rules of personal fitness training or doing an exercise demonstration (mandatory) for the client, each time.

Describing new movements to clients is best if it is direct and simple. Your language should be nontechnical and clear. Clients can be curious about your methods. It is important to be able to provide the scientific rationale for those times when questions arise. This assures clients that you are being mindful of their goals. You will describe movements, then follow the description with a demonstration. If clients fail to execute a movement properly, or are working in a manner that requires intervention, the need to re-describe the movement may also be needed.

During observations and evaluations, the awareness is shifted to be more that of the trainer, and expectations are verified through close observation. This requires that you know what to expect initially, from the onset, when the exercise was selected for the clients’ program design.

Instruction occurs at an ongoing pace for both the trainer and client. Clients learn to communicate more effectively and respond more positively to your instructions, over time, whereas your perspectives on instruction will be more subjective and related to client-centered goals and the big picture.

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