What constitutes a good program?
Really, think about that.
What’s the difference between a good program and a bad one?
Simply put, good programs lead to the intended result as quickly and efficiently as possible.
So what are the ingredients for a good program?
Most fitness professionals start with the exercises they believe will move their clients toward their goals as quickly as possible.
That’s part of it, but not the beginning or even the most important component.
The beginning is understanding the lifestyle factors your client is working with. For example, a client who only sleeps 5 hours per night and hits the drive-through 5 times per week has far lower hanging fruit than determining whether or not a linear progression or an undulating progression is better for his program.
His lifestyle needs to change to support his goals, and if your job is to get him from where he’s at to where he wants to be, you need to get to the bottom of why he’s living the way he’s living.
What does this have to do with the emotional impact of a program?
Let’s unpack some more about what this hypothetical client could be going through.
Why does he only sleep 5 hours, and why is he consistently eating fast food?
Is it due to factors outside of his control?
Are they side effects of poorly adaptive coping mechanisms?
If you don’t dig into it, you’ll never know. Even if you’re successful in helping him reach his current health and fitness goals, you’ll be setting him up for failure because he won’t have the tools necessary to navigate future difficulties.
A common scenario for someone in this situation is that they hate their job. It requires long hours, and the work environment is suffocating.
By the end of the day, your client is emotionally exhausted. Even though he gets off work by 5:30, he doesn’t feel like he has enough energy to go out and spend time with his friends. He feels lonely, and grabbing a burger to eat while he binges Netflix in the evening distracts him enough not to feel so terrible.
He knows something needs to change, which is why he’s working with you. It took him weeks to work up the courage to sign up because he feared he’d get overwhelmed and quit.
Now that you have some context for what this person is going through, it’s obvious that his program needs more consideration than exercise selection and sets/reps.
He needs education to feel competent and then, by extension, confident.
He needs emotional cueing in his program to point out feelings of frustration and overwhelm within the workout to recognize his internal mental and emotional capacity.
He needs days to be programmed that exist solely to have a win and be a bright spot in his week.
This client doesn’t exist, but the people you work with do, and they need a program that accounts for more than sets and reps. They need programs that consider the realities of working with messy human beings whose lives are filled with distractions, heartache, joy, and connection.
They need a program and a coach who meets them where they are with the tools they need to achieve their goals.