It’s interesting how the mind (the emotional body) and the physical body are so well connected. There are often times, especially in the individual setting, where once you start stimulating the muscles or the body in a certain way, it evokes quite a bit of memory for people. A lot of issues can come up – deep seated issues – and sometimes you have to address them. Other times there’s the day-to-day minutia that get in people’s way to achieving their goals. A lot of times we feel like a therapist.
When you get certified as a personal trainer, the one thing that should be included is psychology. It’s something we pick up experientially along the way, and some of us go off and take psychology classes. It is interesting to me how often a personal training session turns into a one-on-one therapy session as well. It makes sense though. It’s hard to disconnect the physical body from the mental body, so it’s an important component of personal training to recognize.
Having said that, the primary purpose of the personal training session is to address the physical body, so the house rule is that the only thing stationary in this gym is the bike. You may be moving slowly, but as long as you’re moving and keep going, then that’s great. When a client needs to talk about something going on with them, then we’ll shift over to cardiovascular or aerobic activity during that time – keep them moving, keep their heart rate up, keep it so they can talk but have to catch their breath every now and then, but they’re not going to really take the entire hour talking.’
With that said though, there have been moments where we’ve stopped a workout and just taken the client on a walk down to the cliff – just a trainer and a client just walking along and talking about what’s affecting their lives. There are stumbling blocks and obstacles getting in the way of people’s goals and one of them can be the mental and emotional state they find themselves in at that moment. So unless that’s addressed or at least confronted a little bit, we’re not going to get anywhere in their personal training session.
I might not be very common, but it has happened where we just say this isn’t working today, let’s go for a walk and see if we can clear our heads, and then come back and see what we can get done.