To Be a Good Trainer, You First Need to Be a Good Person (Part 2)
by: Daniel Lucchini
As a continuation from Part 1 of ‘To Be a Good Trainer, You First Need to Be a Good Person.’
More qualities you must possess in order to become a good trainer.
Maturity – Once you develop a decent client base you will probably be faced with clients who are very different from the other. Personality characteristics, socio-economic class, intelligence, education, cultural background, ethnic group, financial status, geographical location, religious and political beliefs, spiritual leanings and gender are but a few of the factors which help to make us unique individuals. A reasonable degree of maturity is therefore necessary to be able to interact effectively with differing individuals who present with a variety of challenges and goals. Part of that maturity is the ability first to realize that individuals exist within much wider systems and second to accept that you will not necessarily be able fully to understand the totality of that wider system. A recognition of this diversity coupled with appropriate training will hopefully enable you to answer this important question: What method is most effective for this individual with that specific goal and under which set of circumstances?’
Being a good listener – This one goes without saying, but to be able to hear what your client is saying and take it into account is essential. To be a good listener you need to be actively engaged in what they are saying, paraphrase to demonstrate understanding and listen to understand, not just reply with your “truth bomb” you are about to hit them with.
Flexibility and open-mindedness – You don’t need to always agree with everyone on everything, however, you must be able to accept people for who and where they are. You might be there to help guide people to better habits or improved ways of doing things relevant to their goals, but if you cannot first accept them as they are, you will shut down any chance of positive and adaptive results.
Empathy – Empathy is our ability to understand what the client is saying and going through. Whether they are struggling to find time to train or to stick to their diet. There are two main levels we must address. First, as a trainer you must communicate your understanding by showing your client that you can understand their world with verbal and non-verbal communication. This shows you are listening and respecting them. From here you can then guide the client to look at the issues that are getting in the way of their goals. This process needs to be gradual and gentle. Empathy in the role of trainer involves challenging the client about relevant issues (as they relate to training). If you find yourself struggling to do this it may because of an overly strong need to be liked.
Genuineness – Know yourself, your prejudices, your values and your own needs. Be honest about whom you are and be who you are at all times. Trying to fake it for a particular client or on a particular day will only come across as disingenuous.
Personal contraindications to be careful of:
A mission to solve other people’s problems – As coaches we are there to guide a change, not solve all of our clients problems. There is a large difference between facilitating change and doing it for them. By empowering our clients to make changes for themselves, we give them tools and confidence to move forward towards any goal
Rigid beliefs – Most of us have some rigidity in our beliefs, but if you hold a wide constellation of strongly held beliefs, this may prove to be counterproductive as it limits how flexible and adaptable you can be to the individual in front of you.
Lack of willingness to learn and receive feedback from others – As a trainer you are a guide to your clients, which requires self-awareness. This is not possible if you operate as a `closed system’ and if you try to prevent others from influencing you. Some of you may find that the process of becoming more self-aware can be quite personally challenging, though ultimately rewarding. This may be particularly so when large areas of awareness about yourself open up fairly quickly, such as at the early stages in your training career. Of course, this part of the process is no different from the process, which your clients will undergo. If you are unwilling to learn from others, then you are unlikely to develop your self-awareness very far, which will make it difficult for you to proceed as a trainer. Another important aspect of being a trainer is about learning from your clients and peers. Many trainers will attest to the fact that it is the clients or users who reveal to the trainer some of the most important learning points which make it possible for you to develop a wealth and depth of experience about the training process.
These lists are not here to be daunting, but instead to bring your awareness to the importance of developing yourself a s human so that you can apply the skills and techniques in fitness to provide the most value possible to your clients and the industry.