Movement Training for Humans
How to convert fitness clients into Natural Movers!
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How to convert fitness clients into Natural Movers!

Many of our students at Evolve Move Play are personal trainers. One of their biggest questions coming out of our events is how do I use this material with my clients. This is the question. How do we upgrade the fitness culture in general and how do we make the practices we fall in love with something that works for us professionally?

Keys to Conversion

What we have found is that to convert clients effectively there are 4 keys.
Motivation, Narrative, Demonstration and Progressive change. To effectively convert clients you need to.

  1. Understand their motivations
  2. Understand their narratives
  3. Demonstrate that what your doing work with their motivations and narratives
  4. Make changes Progressively

Key points to understand in converting students.

General population students generally do not know their own primary motivations for movements.
Most people are operating off of low resolution cultural scripts, they know they need to exercise but don’t have a deep reason why. They think exercise is to lose fat, gain muscle, improve cardio, and possible improve mobility
Perhaps the biggest underlying but often unarticulated motivation for general population is function, they want to be able to play with their kids, go for a hike, enjoy sport, garden, and go about their daily life without pain or immobility.
New paradigms and approaches are threatening because they require us to examine our scripts and think.
Therefore it is best to convert clients slowly by appealing to their current scripts and pointing out how you can deliver the benefits they already want but better and with more benefits doing the new thing. In order to convert them you need to present the new thing in way this is both as non threatening and as rewarding as possible manner.
Step 1:Start with Warm Ups
The best place to start incorporating playful, and organic movements is probably your warm up.
It’s generally best if you don’t make a big deal out of it just say you found a new way of warming up you like, get them playing a game like the multiball catch game. Point out when they are laughing and smiling now give them the story. “I delivered a warm up you are sweating, you moved your joints through lots of angles you got some cardio, but not only that your mentally and emotionally warmed up. “

This connects the new ideas to stuff they already understand and care about while showing you can provide novel benefits.

Step 2: Adding Movement/Play into the primary workout

Once play and novel movements have been introduced in warm ups your clients should be ready to trust you to add even more novelty to their work out. In order for your client feel to comfortable moving on to more progressively and open forms of movement based training you need to continue to focus on. Maintaining and developing rapport with your clients. If your truly care about their progress and they truly believe it the will follow where you lead. Continue appealing to their current narratives. Continuing showing them how you can deliver, fitness, strength, mobility and fat loss, using these new approaches.

Here are four movement based substitutions you can make for common fitness elements.

1. Replace Cardio or HIIT with tag, controlled grappling or high energy ball games.
2. Use an organic mobility game like Zen Archer to replace mobility
3. Use a game that involves slow movement through deep positions to replace a strength training component
4. Use a small obstacle course and some basics of parkour to replace jump rope, or box jumps. Obstacle courses can be be built to emphasise power development, elasticity, coordination, strength, etc. So there are many ways you can can incorporate them.

Step 3: Take it outside

Once you have the group well conditioned to organic, movement focused and playful training it is time to starting bringing the practice outside.

This can be the hardest step. Even in parkour gyms converting people to training outside can be a struggle. The general public are very conditioned to the story that fitness is something that happens in a gym, and a gym is safe and comfortable place to go. Training in park means potential scrutiny from the public, it means getting your hand dirty, it means stepping out of the routine, these can all be difficult for people to accept.

Before you take people outside make sure you have scouted areas extensively to find the most rewarding places that are relatively close by and optimally will not have lots of other people present that might make your clients feel uncomfortable.

If you have a good natural space within walking distance of your facility this makes the transition much easier as you can simply say we are changing it up today and walk your client or clients to the park.

Start outdoor movement through social gatherings!

If you are not close to a good natural space, you can introduce training in nature as a social event, going on hikes as a group is common and widely accept social event for groups of fitness oriented people to do. You can set up a group hike and add a bit of outdoor natural movement to the hike,

Once you have built a group of students who are down with the play based approach and happy to play outside you can introduce your first outdoor classes or personal training slots.

Once this is established how deep your take the client in to the more skill and movement focused frame will depend very likely on the client and their motivations some may jump right into natural movement culture were as others may continue to be more focused on traditional fitness paradigms and protocols for much longer.

Over time if you are truly only interested in doing the movement focused work you may need to let go of some clients and work on attracting clients who are more deeply aligned with you but if you follow the steps above with deep focus on their relationship with the client you will be able to convert many of your clients to engaging in a practice that you are fully aligned with and start building a movement community and future training partners.

Good luck and keep spreading the natural movement movement!

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