Injuries are bound to happen.
Even if you’re the most educated, savvy, up-do-date trainer specialising in biomechanics and corrective exercise, your clients are going to get injured from time to time.
It probably won’t be in the sessions with you, but let’s face it – we all do stupid stuff from time to time, and clients are no different. They might trip while walking down the stairs, they could take a knock in a game of squash or basketball, or they might even do something crazy and dislocate their shoulder falling out of bed.
While you can mitigate the chances of clients getting injured, you can’t ensure 100% immunity.
What you can do though, is have some failsafe methods in your pocket to keep them training with you, even when they’re beat up.
“It’s the Done Thing”
It’s not that clients want to stop training with you when they’re injured, rather it’s just seen as the done thing.
All our lives we’ve been told that if we feel a bit run down or injured, we should take some time out. Plus, the mainstream view of training is that if you can’t go hard all the time, you may as well not bother.
Therefore, clients think that if they can’t do everything absolutely perfectly, they’re wasting their money and your time by carrying on training until they’re fully fit.
The trouble is, doing this means they lose motivation.
They’ll probably gain weight too, as they become more and more inactive, and let their diet slip, as they don’t have the accountability and support of the regular interaction with you.
The longer they leave it to get back into things, the harder it is, and so even when they are physically and metaphorically back on their feet, the temptation to take the easy route and just give up training for good overrides that nagging voice in the back of their head saying they probably should get back to their sessions.
The trick is to tackle their objections head on, and give them a reason to carry on training, before they even think to use injury as a reason to stop.
All too often, a client thinks that their goal MUST be weight loss, and if the scale isn’t going down, they’re failing.
They equate weight loss with balls-to-the-wall sessions and working up a massive sweat and feeling sore the next day.
What you need to do, is reset their way of thinking away from weight loss, and into one of staying accountable and on track.
As soon as you find out they’re injured, sit down with them, and work through some new goals. Perhaps instead of shooting for losing a couple of pounds a week and doing three full body workouts, they instead aim for tracking their food in a diary every day and losing just one pound per week.
A great question to ask is –
“What happened the last time you stopped training?”
For most adults in gyms, working with you won’t be their first foray into the world of fitness – they’ll have been to multiple clubs, bootcamps and run all different types of programs in the past, only finding that each is but a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of their life.
They work out for a few months, take a break for the same amount of time, and when they get back into it, training is even harder, punishing and more gruelling than they remember. Remind them of this, and emphasise how important staying consistent is. They don’t need to go all-out, all the time, but by keeping things ticking over, they can maintain their fitness, even if they can’t perform every exercise or train at maximum intensity.
Come up with a brand new routine entirely for them.
Call it “Tina’s Tendonitis Training Plan” or “Paul’s Post-Surgery Shoulder Specialisation Program.”
Doing this shows how much you genuinely care about them reaching their goals, and also adds variety and interest into what you’re doing with them.
For example, if Tina has had elbow tendonitis, you might be limited to bodyweight-only leg training for a while. Under normal circumstances you probably wouldn’t do this with her, but it’s a nice change of pace, and the switch up in volume, frequency and rep range for her legs could lead to some pretty impressive gains in the short-term, and give some localised muscle soreness, which Tina will probably believe is doing her the world of good.
You might know that DOMS doesn’t really indicate anything, but by giving her a solid routine that gets her results and makes her feel something, both parties do great.
As soon as you hear your client is injured, go away and do some research on the specifics of their condition.
Print out as many articles as you can find, go through them and highlight key notes, then present these to the client at the start of the next session. Go through everything you found with them, and discuss how you plan to make their training as effective as possible and help with their recovery.
Any personal trainer who wants to keep a successful business long term MUST have an awesome referral network.
That means physios, chiropractors, physical therapists and sports masseurs. You want to be able to say – “I know a guy for that” the moment you hear the “I” word from a client.
By referring your clients on to someone you trust, you’ll know they’ll get the best treatment possible, and with good connections, whoever you refer out to will send the client(s) back to you as soon as they’re ready, and give you advice on how best to approach training.
Even the best trainers have clients who get injured from time to time.
It’s annoying (for you and for them) but it needn’t mean an end to them reaching their goals, or your working relationship together.
Approach things strategically, and with the goal of doing the absolute best job possible to help them get where they want to be. To fulfil your role as ace personal trainer, with excited, successful clientele, you want people to stick with you, and that means not letting injuries be an obstacle on their journey.