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To encourage, inspire, teach and support clients to achieve their health and fitness aims, in a progressive, entertaining, safe and effective manner.

Encourage and inspire.
Unless a trainer can both encourage and inspire, he probably will not succeed with his clients. The ability to motivate, which is probably what these two words boil down to, is a big part of what personal training is essentially all about. Encouragement involves getting the balance right. Too much and it becomes just annoying background noise. Too little and your client might think you insensitive to how hard they are working and become irritated. I remember a very popular high profile trainer whose modus operandi was to shout 'abuse' for practically the whole session. He was very popular at the time and I am sure he felt his methods were valid and got results. My problem with this was that I believe trainers have a duty to make clients more self sufficient as time goes by not less so. I would be unhappy if I thought clients could never see a time when they didn’t need me any more and the Beach Retreat is designed to make clients self sufficient and is a cornerstone of what I aim to achieve there.

Trainers also need to be inspirational. To do this, they must not only be knowledgeable, fit and healthy looking, but also totally dedicated and involved in getting their clients to reach their goals. I believe there is nothing more inspiring than to see a trainer as hungry as their clients are for success.

A trainer not only has a duty to achieve the best results for his client but also to teach them as much as they possibly can about the process they are engaged in. Clients not only need to follow your instructions but also understand the logic and thought processes behind them. After a certain period of time the client should be able to manage on their own and take control of this part of their lives for themselves. Trainers should encourage their clients to ask questions about their routine and be involved in the future planning of them- you are a team and should be equally involved in the pursuit of the end result.

As a trainer you must support your client. By this I mean you must understand that they are not machines but people with feelings and lives not only in the gym but outside it as well. You must be sensitive to the fact that sometimes the last thing your client might want to do is train that particular day. Problems at home can make training difficult. Also the fact that they have decided to change their habits of a lifetime can cause real highs and lows. A good trainer must anticipate these moments and be there for their clients when they might occur. Being an, 'emotionless superman', is not going to help at all. By this I don’t mean that trainers should aim to be their client's best friend. That can end up being an excuse to bin the training and go and drink coffee and eat Fig Newtons together the whole time - It's a balance and not a very easy one to achieve but an important one to get right nevertheless.

When a new client comes to me the first question I ask is, 'what is your aim'? Very military I know, but it's the right one nevertheless. Everything I plan and do from then on will come from that initial aim. It is also important that the aim is correctly framed and clearly thought out to. Aims should be realistic and safe. The client's genetics and training history must be taken into account. Time frames for progression must be well thought out and planned. The overall aim should also have interim goals dotted at regular intervals along the way otherwise it all seems to big a mountain to climb.

So many people aim for the top of Everest but actually aren’t even capable of getting to the base camp. Break your aim into stages. Also, the motivation for the clients aim must come from the right place. Peer pressure from a loved one is the wrong motivation or a desire to be huge and menacing. A good trainer must be aware of this before starting out with a new client. Lastly an aim must have overall balance. I don’t believe a new training regime should become the client's life. It’s an aspect of it but not the whole deal. I always try and stop clients being obsessive in their training because in the long term it can be dangerous and eventually lead to failure. Temper a client's enthusiasm with commonsense, safe practice and above all balance.

Richard Smedley on the beach infront of the retreat

Progressive and Safe.
Whenever I start to work with a new client I always tell them that they are going to have to undergo a period where 'they train to train'. By that I mean the exciting improvement stage of training has to be preceded by a more low- key period, where the body is strengthened in its core areas. This prevents the client getting injuries when the training becomes more intense and is a very necessary process. I look at training as a series of stages in the pursuit of a goal. Each stage cannot be started until the stage before it is satisfactorily completed. I also try and quantify progression by measuring improvement in a way that the client will find easy to understand and appreciate. Body measurements must be taken regularly and times and heart rate results carefully examined. I tell clients not only what they are going to do today but what they have done in the past and what they are going to do in the future. In this way clients are able to understand exactly what their present position is in relation to their goals.

Safety is also important with personal training because injuries can kill a client’s enthusiasm stone dead if you are not careful. That is why it is important to be able to have precise methods of measuring intensity levels with any fitness activity. Aerobic work is easy to measure with the use of heart rate monitors. I use a scale of 1- 10 with resistance work and ask my clients where they are on that scale at any particular stage of the set. This can also help in working out the length of time clients need to rest their muscles after a workout. The harder you work the longer you will need for the body to repair the breakdown of muscle tissue.

I believe training has to be fun and the Beach House is all about that. Few people have the necessary discipline in the long term unless they enjoy it or get real value from it. Clients ask whether they should run, swim, cycle or skip. I always answer ‘what do you enjoy the most’. The simple fact is that whether other exercises burn more calories per hour is irrelevant if they are unlikely to continue doing it because they hate it so much. Even someone’s favorite exercise can get boring after a while, so you also need to vary his or her exercise routine to maintain interest. Trainers should not only help their clients get fitter and healthier but also widen their horizons in terms of what they can do with and get out of their bodies.

Lastly, effectiveness of training is central to your client maintaining his or her regime. Without success clients will fall by the wayside. You simply must know your stuff as a trainer and keep abreast of what is currently out there in terms of cutting edge fitness research. Clients come to you for guidance and that is a duty of trust. I find that the main enjoyment I get from being a trainer is the transformation that I can help effect with my clients. Without it you are taking money under false pretences and that is not a pursuit I would care to be involved in.