I have recently taken on a new challenge. I am about to start training via email an 18-year-old male wheel chair racer living in a very small town with very little resources. He has been competing for one year now and is doing extremely well. He wants to improve his performance through strength training and sports nutrition. The main challenge is that he has very limited resources. All he has to use for strength training is a Bowflex machine and some small free weights. He also has rollers to improve his endurance but does not have access to a track. I am also finding it hard to find information on program design for such an athlete. I was hoping for some suggestions on how to train this client.
I would have to say that you do have a major challenge on your hands. My opinion is a bit different from yours, though. You seem to believe that the challenge is that he has limited resources, while I think he has just what he needs at this point. If all he has is a Bowflex and rollers, than that is what he will have to work with at this point until he progresses. When he reaches the bridge of progression, he can start to think about training elsewhere, traveling to other facilities, settling with what he has or moving. A Bowflex machine allows you to do all the same movements you would on a cable machine. As well, I would focus on some Swiss ball exercises that will help him with neuromuscular efficiency of his entire stability and global systems. There are many exercises you could have him do by himself or with support/assistance that will allow him to develop his inner unit and outer unit efficiently. This will create a functional and synergistic foundation for his body to work/perform from while racing.
I feel the major aspect of this that you are overlooking is that you are trying to work with him via email. In my clinical opinion, this alone will not benefit the client. Yes, you can do phone consultations for nutrition and lifestyle coaching, but how can you physically assess a client, design a program and take him through it when he is not physically present? In my opinion, it is 100% not practical for the client or you. The only thing gained in this situation is that you might get some money to fill your pockets. Ask yourself this, are you in the fitness and health profession to help you or help others? We can be either egotistical and always thinking about self, or we can be humble and always busy doing remarkable things so that we have no time to think of self!
This is a great client to have, but I am going to give you some simple recommendations of what I would do in this situation. I have clients that travel, fly in to see me or fly me to see them all the time. This can be done on a monthly basis and is very easy to achieve. As well, if this is not something you feel you can do, find a skilled PT or CHEK Practitioner in his area for him to work with. It is laid out as follows (whether you go there or he comes to you):
- First appointment - Meet with your client and fully assess his musculoskeletal, neurological and physiological systems. As Paul Chek says, “Don’t guess, assess!”
- Review the paperwork/assessments - While your client is off training, eating lunch, etc. sit down and review the paperwork finding out what is going on with his musculoskeletal, neurological and physiological systems. Have your client come back after you are done designing his program for the education part.
- Program education and review - This is when you educate your client about his program, taking him through the flexibility and exercise programs. As you go through it, you will explain a stretch, then videotape it. You will review with him each stretch and videotape it, then do the same with the exercise programs. This will give him something to refer to when you are not around.
- Schedule another full day appointment four to six weeks down the line for a progression.
- The nutrition and lifestyle aspect of it can be easily done long distance and over the phone. I email my clients assessment forms, and they send them back within seven to 10 days. From there, I assess, prioritize and design an outlined nutrition and lifestyle program.
This can be easily done in a day, if you have the skill, resources and the motivation to do so. With some of my more challenging clients, this can take two to three days. I do this all the time. Not only do I not have to babysit people on a weekly basis, but I am educating people on “how to” do exercise themselves. This is very empowering! Good luck, and feel free to email me with other concerns.