In a world of a million fitness options, it can be hard to be the point of difference. But what any business owner will tell you, there is a lot less of marketing spend keeping your current clients, rather than continually attracting new ones.
Understanding your clients needs and working with their limitations is the glue that keeps them loyal to you. Going above and beyond the service that can get anywhere, translates to business coming from word of mouth.
Women make up 63% of your client base, yet often the training programming offered to them is not significantly different to that of their male counterparts. Yet women have 3 very distinctive differences, which if you are not accommodating will mean that they will find someone who does. Or worse, that you could be potentially damaging them.
- Anatomical differences. This may seem obvious, but let us be blunt. Women have an extra opening at the bottom of their pelvis. Unlike the sphincter muscles that close the urethra and anus, the vaginal opening has no such mechanism. Women rely on their pelvic floor to keep their uterus, bladder and bowel in the right place. Continually placing unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor with compromised posture, inappropriate weight or not accommodating for intra-abdominal pressure can lead to damaging this small muscle. Damage to pelvic floor can cause incontinence (both urinary and faecal) or worse – prolapse – when these organs literally fall out of place
- Hormonal differences. Women have changing hormonal status both in their monthly cycle and their life cycles of pregnancy, postnatal and menopause. These hormonal changes have a direct impact on the muscle function. Learning when is the best time to increase weights and maximise the hormonal impact on strength gains is vital to the periodization of your female client
- Post- natal is for life. Women are often given this label while their baby is young. However, pregnancy changes a woman’s body and certainly her hormonal system (see point 1) until she goes through the next hormonal shake-up… menopause.
Every postnatal woman needs to have her abdominals checked before resuming to exercise. Diastasis is when the rectus abdominal pulls apart via the linea alba (directly down the middle of the tummy) and this can occur to around 60% of women and has direct implications on exercise prescription. If a split has been identified, it is important for a trainer to help repair with exercise, rather than make it worse, as diastasis can impact on pelvic and back pain, core stability and pelvic floor.
Often women are not checked by their GP post birth or not know the implications that diastasis has on their exercise routine. But they may complain of a pouchy tummy, that no amount of exercise or diet has been able to shift.
To learn how to check for diastasis and modify exercises is an essential skill in any trainers’ toolbox.
Women’s health is often relegated to “special populations” and apart from pregnancy; the historical strength and conditioning philosophies have been applied to women, in much the same way as their male counterparts.
Because of hormonal or life cycles mean that this is not always entirely appropriate.
Understanding your client’s body, asking the right questions, providing the right information and modifying their exercise programming responsively will mean that you will be a trainer that stands out among the crowd.