Why It’s Important for Trainers to Write Programs

Author:  Written by: Graeme Prue, AAPT BOSTON Faculty

When I was asked to write an article regarding the importance of writing a 4-6 week program in advance of any training session, I had a lot of ideas but couldn’t decide where to start. I asked current and former students what they would like to read in regards to this particular article and what type of direction they would like to see it taken. As they started to give me feedback more questions arose and differing ideas and directions became apparent.

I still needed a good opening to the article that would catch people’s attention, when it suddenly occurred to me that what I had done was directly comparable to writing a program. Because I needed direction on the content I needed direct feedback from the people that were going to be reading it- you could call this part of the article my assessment. Most clients will indicate that they want to lose fat and get stronger. However, if we do not assess their strength and their body fat percentage how do we know if this will become a reality? Also what other goals do they have, they may want to play in a hockey league, coach baseball for their son etc. Before any trainer can start to write a program they need a plan, if an assessment of the client doesn’t happen, the plan is irrelevant to the audience, in this case the client.

After I had input from students, I created an outline. This is parallel to the program writing phase, arguably the most important component of personal training and the phase that personal trainers are most likely not to complete. I have clients and also have my own workouts; I can barely remember my own workout let alone another 20+ sessions a week. If I do not have a program planned in advance and if I do not take notes on a form of daily log how can I be sure that my client is progressing? How can I create logical solutions to postural deviencies, or prescribe exercise that is relevant to my client’s goals and needs? Not to mention the importance of remembering pre-existing conditions. Not using a program is like trying to build a house without any blueprints. It does not matter how great the builder is – if there are no blueprints, the plan is arbitrary. The builder is throwing a house together and hoping it stands.

Trainers will argue that writing a program prior to collecting money is a waste of time. A builder however must complete blueprints before you hire him to build your house. Would you hire someone that promised you a great house without any plans? If a potential client doesn’t buy their program, follow up with them after 4-6 weeks. If they have not achieved their fitness goals outlined with you, a new opportunity arises.

As trainers we have to take pride in what we do and represent our profession well. We shouldn’t be looking to sell “sessions” but rather sell people on their fitness dreams, sell them on their goal. Yes you may be the only trainer at your gym that has a program, but you are probably the trainer that has clients reaching their goals while doing it safely and injury free. Being a good trainer is about paying attention to details. So why is it important for trainers to write programs? For me it comes down to one simple thing, it is what great trainers do!!

About The Author:

Graeme graduated from Park Lane College (England) with a Diploma in Sports Science, in 1998. Through his life Graeme has always competed athletically at high levels in Rugby, Cricket, and Boxing.

Following college Graeme’s Career started at “South Leeds Stadium” working with all ages from 10-84. Graeme has worked with paraplegics and the blind. Graeme also taught fitness classes to large groups of all ages and abilities. While working at “South Leeds Stadium” Graeme became involved with the “Hunslet Hawks Professional Rugby Team” (and was part of the 1999 Division One Playoff Championship Team). Also Graeme worked with Pro and Olympic Boxers, Javelin and Gymnast Olympiads in his time at “South Leeds Stadium”. Graeme worked with these athletes both on an individual and team basis.

In June of 1999 Graeme moved to the US. Shortly thereafter Graeme started to work for the “Harvard Business School” (HBS) serving as a personal trainer to the staff, faculty, and students. In his time at HBS Graeme also served as the strength coach and coach of the HBS Rugby Team. During the Summer of 2001 Graeme also served as the strength and conditioning coach for Harvard’s Undergraduate Varsity Teams. In January of 2000 Graeme started S5 Personal Training an in home based personal training business and was working on this part time until summer of 2002 when Graeme decided to pursue it on a full time basis. Some of S5 clients have included Vice Presidents of companies, Professional Athletes, College Athletes, Children, and Post Rehab Clients.

Along with David Gleason, Graeme co-invented and developed The Omni Resistance Ball (The ORB)- a piece of fitness equipment that was introduced to the fitness profession in September 2002. This has given both Dave and Graeme the opportunity to present along side names such as Juan Carlos Santana and Victor Verhage.

Graeme now works with many clientelle ranging from 10 yr olds through to 84 yr olds, some of whom are recovering from stroke, MMA fighters, Ms Fitness USA competitors, New England Judo, Olympians, and NCAA Division 1 athletes.

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