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A Guide to Training Clients with Limited Mobility – By Mike Newman

This blog was written by our inspiring ambassador, Mike Newman, who has been training with us to become a personal trainer. For more information about his journey, click here.


To continue from his previous blog surrounding topics of being respectful and adaptable when training clients with limited mobility, ambassador Mike Newman has created a selection of pointers for trainers who are working with disabled or less-mobile clients.

Being able to train clients who are disabled or recovering from an injury is an essential part of being a personal trainer in the community. Since being in recovery from a severe motocross accident himself, Mike’s passion for fitness and helping others achieve their fitness goals, no matter what their mobility level, has given him a keen insight as to the practicalities of training, as well as the motivational language required.


Read on to know more about working with clients with limited mobility safely and respectfully.


This blog includes:




Prioritising Safety - Paying Attention to Injury


Warming up can and will vary from client to client depending on their individual needs or mobility limitations. It is essential to find out how they feel on that day and talk about their pre-discussed mobility issues.

Be interested and ask questions like:

  • How is it [the injury] feeling?
  • Is it [the injury] better or worse than the week prior?
  • Is there any area that feels especially tight this week?


It would be a good idea to have more than one warm-up for the session. This allows you to be flexible towards your client's needs depending on how their injury or mobility restrictions are feeling day-to-day or week-to-week:

  • A warm-up for if your client is having a good day, including a higher pulse raiser with higher intensity or a more diverse range of dynamic movements.
  • A secondary warm-up with a more manageable pulse raiser that still hits the target heart rate, such as a recumbent bike or a static bike or a fast walk on a treadmill (or if they have lower body restrictions then a hand bike).


Stretching


It's good to ask:

Are there any areas that need stretching before the main session?

If the areas have been highlighted or identified as very tight or uncomfortable, it may be worth warming up and stretching those areas or muscles, taking them through their full range of motion before the main session if they inhibit movement or are potential risks. Then, once completed, re-elevate the heart rate and continue with the main session.

If it will minimise the risk of injury, it is worth it. Having the correct training and education is crucial to help you correctly identify these risks.



Mindset training


Training can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you are recovering from an injury or have limited mobility.

It's important to understand behaviour change and motivational strategies to help your clients set goals and stick to them.

Do not ever underestimate your clients potential. If someone is recovering from an injury or if they have limited mobility, they could be as highly motivated to recover as possible. Just because they had an accident/injury/limitation, it does not mean they should shorten their horizons.

However, the set goals must be achievable and realistic without causing further injury. So, your exercise prescription as a personal trainer will be vital.

Reinforcing positivity, celebrating progress, and verbal praise will play a key role in keeping your clients motivated and on the right track to sticking to their goals.


If you would like to know more about behaviour change coaching and helping set meaningful and realistic goals with clients, check out our Behaviour Change Coaching CPD course here.



Be Considerate with Equipment


Using things like resistance bands/dumbbells and small pieces of equipment in group sessions would make the sessions more inclusive for more than one client. Small equipment is inexpensive and regularly available.

If you're planning a group session, something to think about would be:

Can my client access the equipment?

For example, instead of putting dumbbells on the floor, they could be on a table or a raised surface or even at the side of the workout benches. They are easy to access by doing this, and there will be no additional strain picking the equipment up.

If cable machines are available and accessible, they are brilliant. The height can be adjusted to suit clients in wheelchairs. Clients can use them for multiple exercises. It's good to eliminate potential risks like wheeling around trying to pick up and putting back dumbbells/barbells.

Space is equally important when thinking about where to train clients. Not only will the floors have to be clear of obstacles and training equipment, but you will need a lot of space to allow for the client or clients to move freely and turn.



To Conclude


Having these things in your mind when planning where and how to work out clients with limited mobility is essential to making sure your training is inclusive and adaptable. Always keep in mind your client’s needs and how you can make their training easier to help them hit their goals.

Mike’s aim with being a personal trainer is to help people in this situation and to help them recover, give them hope and make them the best version of them they can be.” Being able to train clients effectively to help them achieve this is one of the best parts of being a fitness professional.


To find out more about training clients effectively and sensitively who are disabled or recovering from an accident, read Mike’s other blog on the subject here.