My name is Eric Lichtfuss, and I am a graduate of ASM, licensed massage therapist and personal trainer. In addition to practicing in these fields, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to educate others in ASM’s Massage and Personal Training Programs. In the Massage program, I am an assistant instructor and clinic supervisor, and I am clinic supervisor for the Personal Training Program. In both programs, we get to see students and their clients experience amazing things…
In the Personal Training Student clinic, we have a client who has tried personal training and fitness classes before, and has always walked away less than impressed with the lack of support and the general attitude of the individuals in the industry. When this client started with us, his student trainer had to undo years of this guy’s preconceived notions of how a personal trainer would behave.
At first, he wasn’t entirely sure how to communicate with and motivate the client…to be tough and loud, soft and supportive, gently inspiring….? He has tried a number of different things, and pretty quickly realized that listening to and honoring his client was step one, and has encouraged and pushed the client to push himself. As a result, after only 8 weeks, the client has lost noticeable weight and has seen improvement in his cardiorespiratory capacity and endurance – all of which are critical to his overall health and wellness goals. He’s also expressed that he’s never felt this supported by a trainer and had no idea that a personal trainer could be this motivating, inspiring, supportive and encouraging. Every day this client comes into his sessions, I know he’s going to give it everything he’s got, not only to reach his own health goals, but also to support his trainer’s growth and success. They are pushing and elevating one another, and I am fortunate enough to witness that on a regular basis.
Another client has had no real background of physical activity, and as such, lacks a vocabulary of movements – the kind of thing gained through years of exercise or playing a variety of sports. Her trainer has had to figure out how to build the client’s vocabulary, and coordination for movements all to her! At first, he was noticeably stumped and began to get frustrated when he couldn’t find the words. But he never let her know it, and he never made her feel like she was a burden – even when he was really struggling. Over time, I’ve watched her progress to doing things she was certain she couldn’t do, all the while he’s been by her side (literally), encouraging her through and growing a vocabulary to help her succeed, and then build on each success to greater success. I’ve seen him get to a point that he can read if she is frustrated with a movement and needs help getting it down or if she needs a different movement altogether and he makes the changes in real time, without skipping a beat. This keeps her moving, and keeps her challenged and keeps her progressing. Often at the end of a workout, she will reflect on her session and comment about how she really didn’t think she would be able to do a certain exercise, but that he was right there beside her and helped her surprise herself. Sometimes I imagine how surprised she would have been on her first day if her trainer could have pulled out the crystal ball and presented her with her future self!
Then I imagine how surprised and how pleased all our students and all their clients would be if I could do that for them. The students are growing as trainers, coaches and humans, and their clients are aiding the students’ growth while achieving their own goals. It is astonishing to witness.