A steep learning curve

A steep learning curve

Just when everything was going well with my clients’ training, I was faced with something I was completely unprepared for – training an 82 year old.

Every new client that starts training at my work gets their first session free. During this first session, I perform some basic assessments and get to know about the client’s background, goals and ability. I rarely know anything at all about the client in advance of this session.

Last week as I waited for this mystery enquirer to show up, all I knew was that he was male. You can imagine my surprise when in walked a very elderly gentleman, who was clearly not going to be able to perform my standard introductory session.

I was completely panicked, and incredibly humbled at the same time. Here I was, trying to stammer through the normal introductions and procedures, while my mind was racing a million miles an hour. I was thinking back to every article I’d ever read and video I’d ever watched, searching my brain for any useful information about what to do with an older client.

My personal training course didn’t teach me how to train anyone, let alone someone that needs special attention. My oldest client is 45, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting to get anyone much older than that.

One of my (high quality) problems is that I am now being promoted as the resident hypertrophy expert at work, although I’m not entirely comfortable with that title. Muscle building is one of major skills, sure, but I wouldn’t call someone with three months’ experience an expert!

While I initially viewed this as a great position to be cast in – as it means the vast majority of my clients are already pretty fit and serious about their training – it also means that I’m not dealing with the ‘average’ personal training client just looking to improve their health and lose weight. So when I got a client that not only didn’t want to gain muscle but just needed to learn basic functional movement patterns, I was understandably flustered.

I managed to throw together a workout, without hurting anyone. I focused on mostly bodyweight movement, with a lot of balance and basic core work thrown it. At the end of the session, I purposely avoided making my regular sales pitch, because I thought I had done a terrible job in my nervous state. But he must have enjoyed it, because he booked and paid for 10 more sessions on the spot! To say I was surprised is an understatement.

We had our second session today, and I was much better prepared this time. What I didn’t realise last time, but did today, is that he is actually famous, in numerous fields too (not in quite the same way as Matt le Blanc)!

My senses are heightened beyond belief when I train him, because it is such unfamiliar territory to me.  I have a lot left to learn, and it’s so exciting to see where this personal training journey is taking me! No two clients are the same, but I just love learning everyone’s unique story and helping them towards their own specific goals.

Have you ever been stuck in an unfamiliar situation?

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