Building the Perfect Training Relationship


     Have you ever had an experience that went perfect, like a great meal or a great trip? There’s a commercial for that captures that emotion. A family is walking down the hallway to enter their hotel room. The voice narrating sets up the scene, “This trip has a been a year in the making”. The family looks beat from a day of travel, as they open the door to an amazing room and view of the ocean. The father does a reserved fist pump and the narrator says, “You got it right, you got it booking right!” The commercial is hilarious. I think we’ve all been there. If you’ve never seen the commercial, the link to the clip is below.


     Whenever I experience a great training session with someone, I think of what made it go perfect? I do this exercise frequently, so I can consistently replicate it, and teach my team how to do it. On the wall in my studio I have a quote- “Communication + Trust + Respect = Amazing Results”. This isn’t a random quote, I believe this is how that great session happened. 




     I never allow someone to just sign up without first having a Success session with them where we discuss their goals and what they are looking to get out of training at our studio. I want to first make sure they have realistic goals and then listen to what they want. I also want to discuss the obstacles that have prevented them from reaching those goals in the past. After listening, we always perform an assessment. At the studio, we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This is how I can communicate to my staff what exercises and drills are appropriate for this person. This time with the new member also allows me to learn a little about their personality. I wish it was as easy as showing someone an exercise and then sitting back to watch the magic. We all learn differently (visual, oratory, and kinesthetic), and we all have a different temperament to coaching. Some people are extroverts and some are introverts. Some people need you to be very precise with explaining why they are doing an exercise. Others need to experience success immediately or they feel like a failure. Getting a sneak peak of these needs is huge in creating a successful experience for someone down the road. I’m not a therapist and I’m not going to act like I’ve been trained to be one. What I can do is listen to people and making them feel comfortable. Catering to their personality is how I help to make them feel comfortable.

     Trust is built over time. Creating trust starts on day one. Explaining to someone that safety comes first and they will not get hurt is part of that. I learned early in my career, that if you want to damage trust, just pick a random exercise for someone and risk them getting hurt. Demonstrating to people that you gave thought to determine the right drill for them is very important. This is where I feel many coaches fall short. I never believe you should fall in love with an exercise. When I was introduced to kettlebells years ago, I wanted everyone to perform swings. It’s a great exercise to strengthen the posterior kinetic chain (hamstrings, glutes, lats and lower back) and provides a great metabolic effect for burning fat. I quickly learned that due to some physical limitations (lack of mobility, core weakness, and structural issues) some people should not perform swings. As a skilled practitioner I do know there are other options. There are those clients that I have perform floor bridges or cleans with the Ultimate Sandbag to get the same result. The bottom line is that I will never risk someone getting injured simply to check off doing an exercise. As Hippocrates said, “Do no harm”. 

     The third part of the formula is piggy-backed on the prior part. People need to respect that I’m skilled in what I do. If you can’t respect that I have spent countless hours learning, practicing, and honing my craft, our relationship is going to be compromised. I do understand where people can be hesitant to listen to everything I tell them. The fitness industry is not policed, and anyone feeling confident enough can call themselves a trainer. Therefore, I proudly display the credentials of my team on the wall in my studio. Combined, we have over 30 years of experience. Hopefully, this can calm anxieties someone may have about whether we are qualified to do what we do.

     When you add our ability to listen and assess each personal individually with our knowledge, you can create an amazing outcome. At my studio that outcome is stronger, leaner and more mobile bodies. How do I know this? I’ve been able to replicate it time and time again, that’s how. 

     See you at the studio. 


Why Doing Planks Will Help You Touch Your Toes

     Have you ever had a book that you re-read and it takes on a deeper meaning the second time? Then you re-read it once more and it takes on a different meaning yet again. I have a few books like this in my bookcase, but the one I want to discuss today is Anatomy Trains, by Thomas Meyers. I have owned this book for 8 years. Recently, I started experimenting with a series of mobility drills and the entire concept has its roots in this book. I’ve mentioned before that in fitness, new gadgets and fitness toys are created monthly, but new concepts arise infrequently. What I’ve come to appreciate are a few pioneers who take an established concept and go a mile deep in its understanding. Improving mobility by creating tension and anchoring using sticks that flex is one of those examples. The sticks I’m referencing are the sticks created by the team at Stick Mobility ( guys figured out that by positioning your body in various lengthened positions and using sticks to create tension you could improve someone’s range of motion and hence their mobility. The key is that those positions are fascia lines (superficial back, superficial front, lateral, spiral, etc.). 




     People enter our studio daily looking to drop body-fat & increase muscle mass. Rarely do we get people looking to improve mobility. That’s always an after-thought. “Oh yeah, I need better flexibility, too”. What I’ve learned and what Mr. Meyers has shown us is that if we can improve someone’s movement by following what he has coined “Anatomy Trains”, we will be able to increase stability (strength) throughout their body. I first purchased Anatomy Trains a few years back when I wanted to get a better understanding of myofascia & tissue work. Foam rolling was all the rave and I wanted to understand how a foam roller or “Poor man’s massage therapist” could improve someone’s quality of movement. I would soon learn that if I can help you move better, I can make you stronger. If I can make you stronger, you can move a load with less risk of injury. Then if I can have you move that load with a specific level of intensity (heart rate, neurological demand), I can then produce a metabolic effect that will utilize body-fat as a fuel source more efficiently, hence high intensity interval training (HIIT). My point is that to look leaner, you need to move better first. Here’s a video of me going through a quick warm-up flow using the Mobility Sticks before a workout.


     This brings me to a 2nd concept that I learned years ago, but truly didn’t grasp until recently. I’ve previously mentioned that we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) at the studio to assess the quality of someone’s movement prior to putting them through a workout. I believe it’s negligent for me to put someone’s body under load without confirming what their quality of movement is first. In the FMS, the 5th screen is the active straight leg raise (ASLR). In this screen, you are checking someone’s hamstring mobility. This is critical to know before you have someone either dead-lift or swing a kettlebell, two of my favorite exercises. Gray Cook, creator of the FMS, has discussed how you should check someone’s toe touch prior to the ASLR to determine if they may have a tissue (fascia, scar tissue, muscle) restriction or a motor control problem. The reason for the toe touch is to see if your body can create trunk (core) stiffness as your hamstrings lengthen allowing you to touch your toes. If your core is weak, your body can create stiffness in other areas, such as the hamstrings, as compensation. It’s a way your body puts the brakes on to protect itself from injury. This is why I frequently observe people improve mobility in their hamstrings by becoming stronger in their plank position. 


    I know this may be getting in the weeds a bit, but what I believe is revolutionary about the Mobility Sticks and their system is that they allow you to create tension by either pressing them into the ground and or flexing them as your work through specific positions and postures. This ignites a neuro-drive in your body which can activate inhibited or shortened muscles. It’s a way to hit re-set for your body in certain positions and movement patterns. Bottom line, you will move better. 




     This is another example of a new fitness tool (Mobility Sticks) that can help make big improvements based upon concepts (fascia and motor control) that have been around for a while. I guess I need to visit this section of my bookcase more often. 

See you at the studio.


J & D Fitness
4180 South Fort Apache Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89147