At-home training is becoming more and more popular as clients recognize the benefits of having a trainer come to them. These benefits include:
- Comfortable surroundings. Let's face it, there are a lot of people still intimidated by the environment within a fitness club. It is their perception that everybody is fit, knows what to do and how to do it. Many people are very fearful of coming to a gym and feeling like a klutz, an outcast and knowing no one. The thought of being able to exercise within the comfort of their own home is therefore very enticing to a lot of people. They don’t have to worry about what to wear, whether they fully grasp club etiquette or who might be watching them.
- No travel or parking time. One of the most common reasons people use for not being able to commit to an exercise program is a perceived lack of time. And for most people, time constraints are a real problem. By offering in-home training, you are reducing the time they need to allocate for driving to and from the gym and any time associated with finding a parking spot. Basically, if their appointment is at 7:00, they think they could literally wake up at 6:55, grab a glass of water and be ready to go.
- Forced commitment. When you are going to the client, they are less likely to cancel. It's easy for a client to wake up one morning and decide they're not going to their session but when a trainer is coming directly to them, it's more difficult to try to get out of it.
- No gym fees. Some people just don't want to pay membership fees on top of personal training fees.
Training clients in their homes follows similar principles as training clients in the club setting. However, there are a few specific and important considerations.
It is very important to be clear with your clients regarding your expectations for the session. Because the home environment is so comfortable for them, they may not be aware of some of the things that could occur that would seriously disrupt a session. It's important to inform a client that these types of consistent distractions could lead to unsatisfying results.
- Suggest that a client turn off the phone ringer during training sessions.
- If a client has an infant child, suggest they hire a babysitter or arrange for a family member to be there during the training session so workouts will not be disrupted.
- If a client has older children, suggest that they set boundaries with their children, so the children know not to disrupt the workout session.
- Instruct clients that Television sets must be turned off.
- Instruct clients that you expect them to be changed, warmed up and ready to go at the scheduled start of the session. Establish what will happen in the event that a client is not ready. For example, you arrive and your client is still in their pajamas. Let them know that you will expect them to get ready as quickly as possible. In this situation, the session should finish as scheduled. Inform them that these types of regular delays to sessions could seriously affect their ability to achieve results in a timely fashion.
- Instruct clients that it is not appropriate for them to regularly disrupt the flow of a workout by attending to household needs. For example, clients may (if you let them) say things like "Oh, I just need to go change this load of laundry. I'll be right back."
In a home setting, you may not have access to all the great equipment other trainers have in gyms. This will force you to be very creative. Luckily, you can give most clients a very good muscle-conditioning workout using nothing but their body weight and common household items as resistance. There are literally hundreds of different variations of squats, lunges, push-ups, dips and abdominal/torso conditioning exercises. For warm-ups and cardio training, you may be forced to go outdoors for a walk or another outdoor activity or have clients walk up and down staircases. It is also appropriate to suggest to a client that they should purchase some home exercise equipment to allow for more variety and intensity.
If space is limited, make suggestions for items they should purchase that are space-conscious. For example, suggest they purchase a compact set of hand-weights, a step or bench, and some exercise tubes. As your training relationship evolves, you can suggest they purchase additional items like medicine balls, exercise balls, boxing gloves and pads, and skipping ropes.
If space is not an issue, you could suggest they purchase an indoor cardio machine like a treadmill, Stairmaster or bike. You could also suggest a multi-purpose resistance training station in addition to the above suggestions. You should also suggest to a client that they could utilize a few training sessions to have you go out with them and make decisions on equipment models and brands. This will help them to purchase good quality equipment and ensure that they are getting the pieces you feel would be most beneficial to helping them achieve their goals.
Remember that you are in somebody's home. Some clients may not feel comfortable with you seeing certain areas in their home or may be uncomfortable with you doing things that you may do in your home. Be sure to ask for boundaries in your first session on the following areas and try to avoid being too "nosey."
- Off-limits. Ask all clients whether there are any rooms that are off-limits for you. Ask them which rooms are appropriate for you to be in. Be very clear with the boundaries within the house/apartment.
- Entry. Ask all clients which door they would like you to enter from and whether they'd like you to knock, ring the doorbell or just enter. If they ask you to just enter, be sure to verbally announce your arrival.
- Shoes on or off? Ask all clients which would they prefer. Some may have you take your shoes off as you walk through the house and have you put them back on in the fitness room. Others may have you keep your shoes off at all times. Be conscious of the weather. If a client has previously mentioned that they don't mind you keeping your shoes on but it's raining heavily, take your shoes off as a courtesy.
Be conscious of other family members. If you have early morning workouts scheduled and your clients' family members may still be sleeping, be aware of the volume of your voice. Establish whether it is appropriate to call them and have the phone ringing if you are running late.
To date, as far as we know, there have been no reported cases of any major safety incidents involving a trainer in a client's home. However, it is always important to be prepared in the event a situation or the potential for a problem does surface.
- Arrange for a neutral initial meeting place. A local coffee shop or library or if you are associated with a gym facility are great choices. After meeting the client, if you are at all concerned about the potential for a problem, speak to your supervisor, co-worker, relative or friend immediately to seek advice.
- Inform your supervisor, co-worker, friend or relative of all your scheduled at-home training sessions so they are aware of your location at all times. Be sure they have the contact information for all in-home clients.
- Carry a cell-phone with you at all times and have it clipped to your body.
- Just before an at-home training session, call your supervisor, co-worker, relative or friend and check in with them. Let them know where you are, how long the session will be and that you'll be contacting them at the end of the session.
- At the conclusion of all at-home training sessions, call back to check in.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Know where the exits in and out of the house/apartment are and how to operate the door locks. If you observe anything suspicious, report this to your supervisor, friend, co-worker or relative. At any time, if you feel your safety is in question, stop the session immediately and leave. Report all incidents to the appropriate parties.
Be sure to inform clients that you will be traveling to them and there may be traffic-delay situations that may surface. Inform them that you will always leave plenty of time to arrive at the session on time, but in the event of a traffic delay, you may be running late. Inform them that you will be carrying a cell-phone and, if they agree, you will call them if there are any delays. Establish an acceptable time leeway so that a client knows that a session may begin anywhere from the scheduled time to say, 15 minutes after. Instruct them on what they should be doing in the event that you are delayed. Also establish what they would like you to do if you arrive early. Some clients will want you to come in and start the session early while others will prefer that you wait in the car until the session begins.
Other than the above noted considerations, training a client in a home is very similar to training a client in a gym. Adhere to all the exercise programming and prescription guidelines you've learned as a trainer and get ready to enjoy higher training fees as clients expect to pay more for this wonderful service that you provide.