As Professional Fitness Trainers, we should keep an open mind when considering who we will take on as clients.  From my experience, I’ve noticed that most fitness trainers tend to stay within a certain niche.  They study, develop skills and become “experts” in dealing with clients with specific abilities and needs. Common niche examples may be: athletics, weight loss, strength gain and functional movements. Some Fitness Professionals like to stay within an age range as well, which limits them on their potential to learn, develop and grow. These could be considered safe zones; where there is plenty of “how to” information instructing trainers how to prescribe fitness programs.

No matter where you look, you can find information on how to strength train, increase your flexibility or lose weight. However, most of the guidelines are for healthy individuals, or individuals of a certain age. We need more emphasis on everyone else. Arthritis is not limited to older adults, strokes can happen at any time, anyone at any age could be left to deal with joint replacements, paralysis, …. the list goes on.

Sure, there are plenty of avenues of therapy for most of these people but sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes there is a waitlist of months to years where people are left in limbo.   These people need additional assistance to help them with their complicated situations.

There are so many areas that we can be focussing on, outside of these “safe zones”. We could be helping  people dealing with injuries, surgery preparation or rehabilitation, chronic illness and degenerative disease. Any of these issues can take place at any age. I have seen children who have undergone sophisticated surgeries leaving them temporarily paralyzed, young adults recovering from stroke and hip/ knee/ shoulder replacement in ages 22 to 77.  I was able to help each of these people because I was honest about what I knew and needed to learn. I asked questions, I networked with healthcare professionals and above all, I watched and listened to my client.

I have had the opportunity to speak with many Professional Fitness Trainers about stepping beyond their current safe zone.  Many of them had similar thoughts…

    • I don’t know what to do
    • I don’t want to hurt the person
    • I’m not sure how to adapt exercises to meet needs
  • I have no experience with specific needs

We discuss the underlying reasons as well…

    • I don’t want to fail
    • I am comfortable with issues I am familiar with –  things I know
  • I am effective

Want to Step Beyond You Safety Zone?

Start by taking a course/class outside of the fitness spectrum. Think about classes at your local hospital, college, on-line classes. Consider that you can learn from your client through physical and verbal feedback. Perhaps you can attend a course with your client. You can network with Healthcare Specialists.

In this field, we should be continually learning. So learn – and then apply what you have learned to help more people. Step outside your comfort zone, you may find yourself to be amazing and be able to help more people!