The weight-loss journey of an obese person can be an emotional and difficult one. In general, those who are obese struggle with eating too much and exercising too little. When they reach out to a personal trainer for help they need much encouragement.
Training obese clients can present several unique challenges but it can also be very rewarding. Obesity often leads to serious health problems. A personal trainer can help an obese or overweight client reduce the risk of health problems and experience significant benefits.
However, morbidly obese clients cannot perform the same exercises as other people. Personal trainers need to adjust their workout plans and adapt to the abilities of the client. They need to take into consideration the physical limitations of the client. They also need to be realistic and provide a plan that puts the client on the path to long-term success.
What can a personal trainer do to support an obese client? What type of exercises should they do with them? The following tips on personal training for obese clients can guide a personal trainer through this challenging process.
How to Start
The most important thing a personal trainer needs to do to train an obese client is to build a rapport with them. They need to display a kind and compassionate attitude. The client needs to feel supported and that they can trust the trainer.
Fitness professionals need to understand that clients who are obese require much thought and care. Trainers need to be aware of exercises that could injure the client and avoid them. They also need to keep in mind that an obese client cannot perform the same activities that other clients can. They need to modify the exercises according to the limitations of the client.
Personal training for obese clients should be personalized. This is true for every client of a personal trainer but especially for those who are overweight.
The best way for a personal trainer to help an obese client lose weight is to create a customized workout plan. A personal trainer should ask the client about his background such as health issues, injuries, hereditary factors, etc. Then they can create an effective workout program that manages health risks.
Encourage the Client
Discouragement is often the reason why clients quit exercising. Exercising and losing weight takes a complete lifestyle change. Establishing and maintaining a new lifestyle takes a lot of effort and work. If the client gets discouraged, they will struggle to maintain their new habits and lifestyle.
Fitness professionals are responsible for the encouragement of their clients. Every client, and even more so obese ones, need encouragement, commendation, and a supportive hand. The relationship a personal trainer develops with a client might be the only thing that prevents them from giving up.
What are some ways to encourage clients?:
One way to encourage clients is to build trust with them. They need to know that the exercises you assign them are not going to injure them. They also need to know that you care about them personally and want them to experience the benefits of having a healthy body.
Set small goals:
Another way is to set small and reachable goals. Soon the client will accomplish those goals and their confidence will begin to rise. They will enjoy exercising more and more as their confidence grows.
Fitness professionals are enthusiastic about exercise and physical fitness. Obese and overweight clients, in general, do not enjoy exercising and are not excited about it. Enthusiasm is contagious so show your enthusiasm and it will rub off on your clients.
Cheer them on:
As a client does the exercises make sure to cheer them on. Tell them to keep going and not to give up. Perform the exercises with them so that they do not feel alone. When they are done with the determined number of exercises tell them that they did a great job. Utilize emails, texts, and social media to cheer clients on.
Commendation goes a long way in encouraging clients to continue progressing. After they complete a set of exercises tell them how great they did. Tell them what attributes and qualities they possess that will make their success a sure thing.
Do not shy away from telling obese and overweight clients the truth. They need to be aware of the health risks posed by their weight. Do not promise quick and painless success. Explain that losing weight takes time and a great deal of effort. Also, if you see them exercising improperly or making poor decisions make sure to correct them. Clients will appreciate your honesty.
Losing weight is a long journey that takes several years. Clients might experience many setbacks. Stay patient with clients especially when they are having a bad day. If you are patient with them they will be patient with themselves.
Do not be overly strict:
Imposing inflexible restrictions can discourage clients. Make sure they understand how often they should exercise and how they need to change their diet. But do not impose unyielding and unreasonable restrictions. Let clients have some freedom to enjoy themselves every once in a while.
Avoid Embarrassing Situations for an Obese or Overweight Client
Many people feel self-conscious about their weight and this feeling is heightened in a gym. Considerate fitness professionals think of ways to make the situation less embarrassing for clients.
Here are some examples:
- Make sure to know the weight limits of any exercise machines you use. Do not ask an obese client to use a machine that cannot support his weight. Nothing would be more humiliating for the client than breaking an exercise machine. If a client is too heavy for some exercise equipment, modify the exercises. Focus on using other equipment such as resistance bands, weights, etc.
- If possible, exercise outside. The gym setting might be unnerving for some clients since everyone there can see them. If it is possible to do cardio workouts outside in a more private setting then opt for that.
- Do not have a workout circuit that makes obese or overweight clients repeatedly get up and down from the floor. It is likely that clients who are overweight will have joint problems or pain. Having them get up and down from the floor over and over will cause pain and could embarrass the client. Substitute floor exercises with standing or sitting modifications. Or group floor exercises together so that they can do several at one time and only have to get up from the floor once.
Personal Training for Obese Clients: Exercise Examples
Consider factors such as age, weight, health, etc when assigning exercises to different clients. The following suggestions are useful for obese and overweight clients:
Breathing exercises are a valuable component of fitness. Maximizing a client’s breathing brings rejuvenating benefits to the mind and body. Studies show that breathing exercises decrease anxiety and improve sleep quality. Reducing stress and getting a good night’s sleep are known to help people advance in their search for wellness.
Breathing exercises provide another benefit. Breathing properly while exercising is vital. Breathing in sufficient oxygen helps build muscle. Use breathing exercises to teach clients how to breathe while exercising.
Low Impact Cardio
Some more workout ideas for obese people include low-impact cardio exercises. Overweight people do not need to do high-intensity cardio. Avoid jumping, running, and plyometrics. The goal should be to get them moving, keep them moving, raise their heart rate, and avoid injury.
Some low-impact cardio exercises include:
- Stationary cycling
- Aerobic exercises
- Jumping jack arm movements with no jumping
- Marching in place instead of high knees
- Walking lunges
Start an obese client off on the treadmill if possible and encourage them to walk as much as they can. Assign them to walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Also, encourage them to take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Make sure that when they use the treadmill or elliptical machine they are not supporting their body weight on the handrails.
Modified Exercises to Lose Weight
Fitness professionals teach beginners, and especially heavier clients, modified versions of common exercises. Modified versions are within the capabilities of the client but still help build muscle and lose weight. They also help avoid injury and put less stress on the client’s joints.
Some examples are:
- Modified push-ups
- Leg lifts from a sitting position
- Modified squats
Summary and More Advice to Train Obese and Overweight Clients
- Build a rapport with the client
- Prepare personalized workouts
- Avoid exercises that can cause injury
- Remember that obese people are more susceptible to injury, dehydration, and fatigue
- Make sure your equipment is suitable for heavier clients
- Encourage clients with enthusiasm and commendation
- Be conscious of self-esteem and body image issues
- Use exercises that make the client support their body weight
- Avoid high impact exercises
- Avoid lateral exercises
- Start with low-intensity exercises and increase the duration as the client progresses
- Be aware of supine exercises that could compress the chest
Ending thoughts on personal training for obese clients
Training obese or overweight clients can be rewarding and joyful as you see their lives transform. However, it can also present a few unique challenges.
One challenge is to modify the exercises. Remember that exercise and weight loss principles are the same for everyone. The best weight loss results happen when a client uses more calories than they take in and do cardio and strength training exercises. Even if obese people cannot do high-intensity workouts, there are many exercises that they can do. The most important thing is to get them moving on their path of weight loss.
The biggest challenge personal trainers face is keeping clients motivated. Often clients struggle to change their habits and stay motivated. Losing weight takes time and much effort. Plus, a weight-loss journey is not a straight path; some days are better than others. Clients get discouraged when they experience setbacks. Fitness professionals need to show enthusiasm, give commendation, and avoid “shaming” comments.
With a little forethought and a positive attitude, it is possible to help obese and overweight clients change their lives. Use the above personal training for obese clients tips to help you be successful.
If you enjoyed reading this article about personal training for obese clients, you should also check out this one on how to start an online personal training business.