NLP for Personal Trainers

NLP For personal trainers


INSTRUCTORA holistic approach to training can blur the boundaries of the trainer:client

relationship – but you must maintain those boundaries.


just begin and end in the gym. Our

clients, whether top class athletes

or just training to stay in good

shape, experience life in all its complexity

alongside their training and performance

programmes: relationship break-ups,

bereavements, illness, stress and so on. As

a trainer, you may want to help remove

obstacles to the success of a training

programme. But where do you draw the

line in becoming a therapist as well as a

trainer to your client?

As a trainer, you can show your clients the

moves to make but you can’t MAKE them

do them, or with any regularity. So, rather

than take on the burden of responsibility of

someone’s emotional well-being, it is more

productive to act as a guide.

Knowing the right referrals to make is

a great tool to have at your disposal;

otherwise you risk an attitude of

dependency by the client and in areas

which you’re not necessarily qualified to

provide support. Remember your remit,

what you are being paid to do and what

your objective is.

When it comes to adding strings to your

bow, arguably these should be extensions

of your existing field of work. The PT

who takes on group work and develops a

boot-camp module, or knows how to cover

group ex classes, is one thing; it’s quite

another to develop any real understanding

of counselling issues without committing to

considerable study. So, don’t confuse extra

income with a job description that actually

belongs to a whole other career. Be clear

about what you’re offering clients and why

they came to you in the first place, and


When putting the client first – as you

should be – the question to ask is, “who’s

the best person for the job?” When that

relates to training goals, hopefully that’s

you. If it’s not, look to your network of

professional contacts and be involved

as necessary in the consultation process

he factors that affect training don’tspecialise in that.(there’s more about this in Paul Wright’s

article in this issue – see p37).

While it can help to take relevant

courses and qualifications in the areas of

counselling, NLP, CBT and other therapeutic

interventions, be aware that with even a

little knowledge comes responsibility. Be

open to liaising with other professionals

your clients may be working with (e.g.,

psychiatrists and GPs) and be prepared to

share your own interventions with them

as appropriate. If a problem is beyond

your level of experience, knowledge

and qualification – especially when

regarding mental health issues – be

prepared to encourage referral rather than

compensating with potentially dangerous


Jimmy Petruzzi is an internationally

renowned performance and conditioning

coach specialising in the areas of physical

and mental preparation. As well teaching

across several sports disciplines he has

studied NLP and Hypnotherapy since 1993,

using the techniques as an athlete and

coach to great success.

Georgina Jupp, managing director,

CK Academy

Prescribing the exercise was, in many

ways, the most straightforward element

of programme design for this client:

remaining emotionally detached proved

a steep learning curve for our exercise

referral specialist.

For a client who has decided to undergo a

serious operation such as in this instance,

there were many personal issues to

resolve and, as the operation was recent,

occasions when reassurance and external

professional advice was sought.

Initially, the client had stated that

“starving” was preferable to training in

the gym – so it was clear that empathy,

creative thinking and a real desire to

help would be as crucial to success as

general support. We also discussed longheld

beliefs and looked at alternative

viewpoints, sharing tools and techniques

for behavioural change.

The following skills and behaviours can

help build effective relationships and

appropriate boundaries:

safeguard both client and trainer

Set boundaries at the start to

them question limiting beliefs

Actively listen to the client and help

required and refer on

Recognise when outside help is

objectives and set out a clear pathway

of how the client can achieve this,

both in relation to exercise and

lifestyle change

Be clear about the programme’s

relevant topics that are highlighted

and make that information accessible

in ways that bring it to life for the


Dedicate time to study research on

team (this certainly helped our trainer

on this occasion)

We help clients by using the extensive

repertoire of skills we have at our disposal,

primarily around safe and effective exercise

and incorporating lifestyle change. But

we are not trained to counsel and it is

paramount we recognise our professional

boundaries, have the resources to refer

appropriately and step back when we

are not what our clients need most.

Appreciating just what a difference we

make in the lives of our clients is pretty

amazing, after all!.

Be part of a strong and experiencedIn practice: training the post-gastric band client





36 PT Therapist.indd 36 10/5/10 10:59:39

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