A pose that involves linking the hands (or sometimes a hand to a wrist) in a process that rotates both the shoulders and the torso is called a bind. This link causes the body to be "bound" and held as a container, and therefore constricted in some ways by the arms and hands. Binds require flexibility both in the physical body -- in order to come into and maintain the pose -- and in the mind, in order to stay present and sustain the pose.
If you’re looking to go physically deeper into a pose and increase the effects of rotation, binds can be an excellent way to do this. They also offer a different way to explore and experience alignment by forcing you to make adjustments to make the pose work. Binds allow you to be curious, to play, and to be your own teacher -- in other words, they’re fun!
My childhood memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas are happy and warm. I loved the special food, the time off from school and just being with my friends and family laughing and playing games. My sister and I got the biggest kick out of playing dress up and dancing to our favorite tunes. We laughed until we cried!
Now, years later, holidays are not quite the same. Some of the family members I loved most have passed on. Because of divorce and blended families, a lot of juggling is required to bring everyone together during these hectic occasions.
Is it possible to stay calm and balanced during the holiday season? The answer is yes, if you apply three simple keys to creating a season filled with love, good memories and great experiences. First, determine how you want to feel when the holidays are over. Second, redefine your traditions and holiday habits to match your current values. And third, plan and shop ahead to reduce the stress level.
Key #1: Determine How You Want to Feel
Few, if any of us, ever stop and consider how we want to feel when the holiday season has passed. We get so caught up in handling our normal workload plus the extra shopping that we can’t see past the month of December. As fitness professionals charged with the mission of inspiring others to wellness and fitness, how can we set a good example for our clients during this season if we are not balanced and calm ourselves?
Last year, I decided that I wanted to look back on the 2003 holidays feeling relaxed, blessed and rejuvenated. With that in mind, I decided that the only holiday cards I would send out were to people I rarely see. My Christmas card list had grown to over 100 cards, leaving me feeling stressed and pressured. The joy of penning personal notes was being choked by a feeling of obligation. By making small changes in my card list last year, I was able to enjoy a holiday season rich with a sense of peace and restoration.
Uncertain how to find your own peaceful, easy feeling? Use this short exercise to determine what kind of holiday you want to experience this year:
Last, understand that tension is caused by pressure you put on yourself. Give up being a perfectionist. Let go of the need to control everything!
Key #2: Match Your Traditions to Your Values Do your childhood holiday traditions and habits match your values as an adult? Each holiday season is an opportunity to reexamine the beliefs you celebrate. If your old approach isn’t working, it may be time to create an entirely new approach that matches your current values and needs.
Set aside some time with your spouse or significant other, kids or family to identify your shared values and how you want to reflect those during the holidays. One of our family’s values is to provide for those who are less fortunate. Last year, we chose to reduce the amount of money spent on family members and increase our spending for children listed on a community “angel tree.” It was a great feeling to know we were making a difference in the lives of children who had no resources. In redefining your traditions, remember to have fun and be spontaneous!
Here are some ways to match your activities to your own value system:
Key #3: Plan and Shop Ahead
Calmness and balance are easier to maintain when you plan and shop ahead. There is nothing worse than running around frantic at the last minute trying in vain to find the “perfect gift for Aunt Sally.” You may be so conditioned to run on adrenaline in your everyday life, and the holidays just magnify that fact. Make a pact with yourself that if something must be done in a hurry, you won’t even make the attempt. It is much more important to me now to enjoy the process rather than just focusing on the end result.
However, keep in mind that shopping too far in advance of the holidays can create its own problems. You may decide that the gifts you purchased 3 months ago are no longer what you want to give, or you can’t locate them because you’ve stuffed them in a closet but have forgotten where!
I have found that shopping in No-vember, before Thanksgiving, is the most stress-free time for me to shop. I can avoid large crowds, last-minute panic and the urge to overspend because of “all the money I’ll save on these great sales!” Prioritize what must be done, and eliminate the rest from your to-do list.
Consider these suggestions:
Create the Holiday You Want
Many of us perpetuate old traditions and expectations during the holidays without putting any conscious thought into what we are doing. It is liberating when we realize that we can completely recreate or reinvent our holiday practices every year.
Three years ago, I decided that I wanted to have a mental and physical break from training clients from December 24 through January 1. To make that financially possible, I put aside income for several months prior to the holidays. Being able to enjoy this break while still having an “income” has proven to be very therapeutic for me, as well as for my clients.
Reviewing your beliefs and values before the season starts lets you live by your own rules versus trying to meet the hyped-up expectations touted on TV. Staying centered and at peace during the holiday season can be very challenging. However, once you uncover what you and your family consider most meaningful and eliminate what’s not important, you will discover the simplicity and peace the season was intended to celebrate.
Sidebar: How to Host a Stress-Free Holiday PartyDo you like to entertain but find that it can be more stressful than fun? Use these tips to relieve the stress.
Ever taken a barre class? Pulse! Activate the core and balance. Oh, what a feeling!! This engaging exercise opens the hips, working the inner thigh and quadricep muscles while elevated on the ball of the foot of the standing leg, strengthening the calf muscle. Stand tall, breathe and embrace the feeling that comes from building your best self, mind and body. Join me on Tuesday’s at 9:30 am for Core Barre Fusion at Solstice Yoga + Barre! www.solsticeatlanta.com
How do you know which approach is best for your clients?Do you have clients who have difficulty exercising on their own or whose behavior patterns continually interfere with the successful attainment of their goals—in the gym and elsewhere? Have some clients expressed an interest in using physical activity for personal development or to achieve life balance? For these and other clients, personal fitness training may not be enough. A fitness subspecialty—lifestyle fitness coaching—needs to be considered.
Lifestyle fitness coaches (LFCs) encourage clients to use training and sports to build behavioral skills for use at work, at home or in their social lives. This specialty is particularly relevant to fitness professionals because it is founded on expertise in sports and exercise science. People trained as LFCs develop communication competencies parallel to those of professionals trained as more generic life coaches, but LFCs choose to specialize in issues that arise from, or can be related to, the world of sports, fitness and health.
The Evolution of Lifestyle Fitness CoachingThe fitness industry workscape—once dominated by part-time employees and occasional instructors—is increasingly staffed by long-term, full-time, dedicated professionals whose credentials likely include degrees in the sport and health sciences. In the late 20th century, personal fitness trainers (PFTs) frequently relied on a one-dimensional approach to fitness, believing that biomechanical knowledge and technical expertise were sufficient for helping clients adopt more active lifestyles. But over time, as PFTs regularly encountered diverse client agendas, they realized that clients often required far more than instruction and technical support for maintaining exercise commitments. Investigating exercise issues led to exploring emotional needs and/or nutrition concerns and sometimes revealed unsupportive lifestyle patterns, addictive behaviors, and family and personal challenges that needed to be addressed before clients could experience success. Yet before the development of life coaching models, PFTs may have lacked the necessary communication skills and models for intervening in these domains.
The advent of life coaching provided PFTs with access to methods for working with clients on these other agendas. Then the question became: Which works better for which clients—personal training, life coaching or a blend of the two? Making the right decision requires an understanding of how each model works and what each can do for clients.
Distinguishing Coaching and Training ModelsClients who hire LFCs rather than PFTs are likely to encounter different work methods and communication techniques. For one thing, LFCs tend to identify relationship building and communication as their principal domains of expertise. They may attempt to elicit client stories, strategize, and provide motivational and supportive messaging. Though some coaching schools recommend giving advice (Coach U 2005), LFCs generally prefer to encourage clients to come up with their own answers by using powerful questions that challenge and confront client self- perceptions and self-limiting beliefs (Strachan 2001; Whitworth, Kimsey-House & Sandahl 1998). Texts on life coaching typically indicate that it is based on the following elements (Cantwell & Rothenberg 2000; Coach U 2005; Martin 2001; Neenan & Dryden 2002; Whitworth, Kimsey-House & Sandahl 1998):
Knowing that coaches and trainers rely on different skill sets and ways of connecting with clients sets the stage for answering our central question of which model works best for which clients. What needs to be added to this discussion is an understanding of the client.
Self-Efficacy: The Key to Decision Making Clients have diverse needs, styles and agendas. A key concept in recognizing a client’s agenda is self-efficacy, or the ability to successfully engage in desired tasks and achieve valued outcomes through one’s actions (Bandura 1997). Self-efficacy is normally identified in relation to specific goals and behaviors; it is not a generic concept that applies to all domains of life. For instance, being able to undertake a weight loss program and achieve one’s goal represents a high level of self-efficacy in relation to this task and associated behaviors.
Some clients may feel they have landed on Mars when they enter a modern-day fitness center; others will feel right at home. One client may know all about the biomechanics of weight training and program design, while another may be clueless. One may be physically unable to lift weights, while another can do so with ease. All these examples refer to clients’ physical self-efficacy, or self-efficacy in relation to the physical acts required for successful training.
From an entirely different perspective, we find clients who are cognitively and emotionally unable to successfully design, implement and maintain behaviors related to desired changes. One client may want to lose weight, but find himself repeatedly sabotaging his own efforts. Another client who is highly successful as long as a trainer assists her may be unable to adhere to a plan of action on her own. These examples are different faces of what can be termed cognitive/emotional self-efficacy.
Looking at self-efficacy from these different angles enables you to begin to identify clients who have the necessary physical abilities to achieve their goals but lack the cognitive and emotional competencies to successfully manage the necessary transitions of a change process.
Imagine a client named Dorothy who has trained off and on for years, has hired the best trainers to support her, and knows exactly which exercises to do for specific results. But she periodically drops her exercise program and begins to gain weight—until she becomes so disgusted with herself that she starts exercising again. The dynamics pertinent to Dorothy’s case are most likely related to cognitive and emotional self-efficacy rather than physical self-efficacy.
On the other end of the scale is George, who hasn’t been inside a gym for decades. George has always defined himself as a self-starter—someone who follows through on anything he commits to. He joins a fitness club, trains incessantly for 1 week, as if to make up for his lapse, and ends up in the sports medicine clinic with an injury. For someone like George, who tends to follow through on his plans, the problem may have less to do with cognitive and emotional self-efficacy than with physical self-efficacy.
Transitional Decision MatrixUsing the concept of self-efficacy as a basis, we created and tested a tool to help identify what clients need and whether coaching skills or personal training skills are most appropriate (Gavin & Mcbrearty 2003). Because clients who hire either a coach or a trainer are most often pursuing change, we named this tool the “Transitional Decision Matrix.”
The decision matrix relies on two client dimensions: behavioral competency and transitional competency.
Behavioral Competency. Does the client have the behavioral capacity and skills to achieve her goals? If she wants to do weight training, does she know how to use weights? Is she aware of training principles? Is she able to exercise with proper form and respect her own physical capacities? Can she walk into a gym and competently train for an hour or more? If the answer to each question is yes, we would say she is behaviorally skilled in relation to this specific agenda. (Competency is defined in goal-related behavioral terms, rather than as a broad-based description of the person’s athletic abilities.)
Transitional Competency. Is the client capable of successfully managing all the cognitive and emotional challenges that may arise in a transition of the nature he is contemplating? Is he skilled at dissecting issues and understanding his own needs in a period of transition? Can he make choices that will serve his best interests in the long run? Can he overcome obstacles that may occur, and plan for relapse prevention? Can he think creatively to avoid mental traps and habitual ways of perceiving? Is he able to motivate himself through all the phases of a change process? Is he able to generate different types of support—interpersonal and material—to keep him on his path? If the answer to all these questions is yes, this client is likely to have ample skills for managing the transition he is considering.
Using the Matrix
Once you are familiar with a client’s competencies and can see where he falls in the Transitional Decision Matrix, you can make the best decision about the appropriate model or models to use with that client.
Quadrant 1: Skilled Transitional & Skilled Behavioral Competencies/Optional Coaching. Imagine a yoga instructor who decides that his personal and health agendas will be best served by deepening his yoga practice. This instructor has reliably managed many self-designed change processes in the past. In one sense, striving for this new goal may not represent a transition as much as a continuation of an established pattern. If this is the case, it’s likely that neither coach nor trainer will be needed. But imagine that this instructor is pursuing a significant shift in how he relates to his bodily and personal needs. In this case, coaching may prove invaluable in helping him clarify his goals, strategies and processes.
Other, more likely, scenarios for this quadrant involve clients who have been training for years and are exploring new options for learning in the world of fitness, or repatterning lifestyle behaviors through sports and exercise. Coaching may not be required, but it could be quite beneficial.
Quadrant 2: Skilled Transitional & Unskilled Behavioral Competencies/Training. When clients express little doubt about their abilities to engage in action directed toward behavior change—and when their self-evaluations are accurate—the question becomes one of behavioral competency. Do these clients have the knowledge and skills to do what is required to reach their goals? Picture a woman who doesn’t know how to swim but wants to complete a triathlon, or a man who has been inactive for decades but now wants to reduce stress through regular training. Assuming these potential clients can readily adhere to training programs and manage the myriad adjustments that accompany these planned shifts in life patterns, they would probably benefit most from working with a personal trainer.
Quadrant 3: Unskilled Transitional & Skilled Behavioral Competencies/Coaching. Most individuals are capable of a 15-minute daily walk without putting themselves at risk, yet even this small amount of regular physical activity may seem unattainable for sedentary individuals. Other individuals may be exceptionally knowledgeable and gifted athletes yet continually struggle to embrace physical activity in ways that are meaningful and enjoyable. LFCs can help behaviorally skilled clients manage the social and emotional agendas accompanying transitions so they connect to sports and fitness in ways that generate transformations of mind, body and spirit.
Quadrant 4: Unskilled Transitional & Unskilled Behavioral Competencies/Coaching & Training. This last quadrant includes individuals who need to develop the behavioral skills necessary to engage in physical activity and who also require support for all the challenges of change. Perhaps the majority of clients who wish to integrate meaningful physical activity into their lives but have been inactive for years fall into this category. Neither technical instruction nor emotional guidance alone will prove sufficient for these clients to reach their goals—both types of support are necessary.
What Clients Tell UsClients who have worked with LFCs describe self-empowering life transitions. They speak of feeling guided rather than directed, motivated rather than pushed, and supported rather than dependent. However, as the Transitional Decision Matrix suggests, not all clients have agendas appropriate for coaching. In a recent pilot study, we examined client reactions to short-term (three-session) coaching or training. Twenty-eight inactive women were randomly assigned to lifestyle fitness coaching, personal training or a no-treatment control group. In interviews with coaching clients, we were initially perplexed to learn that while most subjects profited, a few gained little from the experience. One person complained of having to come up with her own ideas for activities instead of “being told what to do.” Another client enjoyed the experience but still wanted someone to tell her how she should exercise and what she should eat to lose weight. Our matrix offers easy explanations for these seemingly critical comments. These clients’ dissatisfactions likely represent either poor alignment of client agendas with professional assistance or unclear client expectations about how coaching functions.
In interviews with personal training clients, responses were less variable. Clients liked learning how to use weight machines and how to do different exercises. Though experiences were generally positive, comments such as the following were typical: “I really enjoyed the training. . . . I just wish I could continue so I would be sure to exercise.” Such comments are easily interpreted when we consider quadrant 4 of the Transitional Decision Matrix. Although these clients needed to develop behavioral competencies and were pleased with personal training in this regard, they also needed support for managing a life transition.
Our study and other experiences with clients point to the necessity of determining exactly what clients need and what expectations they have of professionals they plan to hire. When clients’ behavioral competencies are lacking, providing training guidance alone may not lead to their developing self-sufficiency and sustained commitment. This is probably one of the strongest arguments for using coaching models within health fitness settings.
What Coaches Tell UsProfessionals we have trained as LFCs have typically had a base of fitness instruction and personal training. One of the most challenging learning hurdles they faced was making the transition from a “telling” or instructional relationship with clients to one based on dialogue and partnership. These professionals often reported how hard it was to avoid solving clients’ issues by offering advice and opinions. They realized their comfort zone of technical expertise was ever so tempting to fall back on, especially when clients were struggling to discover their own answers. The urge to help by giving instructions and advice was strong, yet these professionals generally acknowledged that “helping” in this way would only short-circuit their clients’ paths to growth and self-reliance. The newly trained LFCs fully acknowledged the positive face of mastering a coaching model—namely, clients who achieved sustainable progress, learned how to solve problems for themselves and felt increasingly empowered when responsibility was placed in their hands.
The FutureLifestyle fitness coaching is not intended to be a substitute for personal training. The two are distinct yet complementary processes. The field of coaching is young, and set paths have not yet been established. How coaches can optimally work with clients in diverse venues is continually being explored. Many clients are just beginning to discover the different types of help available. This learning process will take time. At the same time, coaches are making strides to clarify and communicate what their styles are and what clients can expect from them in terms of both work processes and outcomes.
Whether you are a personal trainer, a lifestyle coach or both, using the Transitional Decision Matrix can help you find the best fit for your clients so they can make the changes they desire.
Transitional Decision Matrix
Behavioral CompetencyTransitional CompetencySkilledUnskilledQuadrant 1
Optional CoachingQuadrant 2
Coaching & TrainingUnskilled
Case AnalysesApply the Traditional Decision Matrix in the following four scenarios. In each case, would the client in question benefit most from coaching, training or a combined approach?
1. Bill, a 34-Year-Old Obese Man
Bill joined a fitness center 6 months ago and has reliably trained a minimum of three times a week. Although he says he enjoys training, he simply isn’t reaching his goals of weight loss and body composition. He spends most of his time weight training but also spends some time on the cardio machines, usually exhausting himself within minutes of starting.
Analysis: Quadrant 2. Bill is committed; he trains reliably even though he isn’t achieving the desired results. What he seems to be missing is technical support and information about training methods and programs. He is likely to benefit most from a personal trainer.
2. Jenny, a 50-Year-Old Regular Exerciser
Jenny has trained regularly for most of her adult years. She has generally stuck to the same pattern in her training and reports that she is slowly losing motivation. Her needs and values are shifting, and she says she needs to figure out what’s best for her at this juncture in life.
Analysis: Quadrant 1. Jenny knows how to exercise but would probably benefit from discussions that could help her link her evolving life directions and purposes to things she does when she trains. Coaching might be a way for Jenny to structure support for her personal journey. Whether this will lead to a more specific training agenda remains to be determined.
3. Henry, a 31-Year-Old Procrastinator
Henry’s goals seem to continually elude him. At his age, he knows it’s time to finish his doctoral dissertation, yet he keeps putting off the required research. He would love to be in a nurturing relationship but complains he doesn’t have the time to find a partner. His training has been sporadic for years, and consequently he feels dissatisfied with the results he achieves.
Analysis: Quadrant 3. Henry experiences discomforting gaps between his present reality and desired life. While he seems to have the requisite abilities, he is ineffective in translating dreams into action. A coach could help him strategize, plan and implement effective programs of action to improve the quality of his life. The pattern he demonstrates in his training parallels patterns in other life domains, suggesting that behavior changes in this domain may readily transfer to other life pursuits.
4. Irene, a 45-Year-Old Exercise Novice
Irene is new to exercise. She has raised her family while holding down a full-time job as a nurse. She knows she has neglected her physical health, but as a caregiver her tendency has always been to attend to others’ needs before her own. She doesn’t know what to do to improve her physical condition.
Analysis: Quadrant 4. Irene probably needs both coaching and training. She doesn’t know what to do in the gym, but if all the help she receives is geared to training, she may lapse into her old patterns of helping others before taking care of her own needs. A coach can assist her in staying on track in pursuing her own dreams and making her life a priority.
Lifestyle Fitness Coaching and Personal Fitness Training: Similarities and DifferencesLifestyle Fitness CoachingPersonal Fitness Training
International Coach Federation, www .coachfederation.org/abouticf/index.asp
Lifestyle Coaching Institute,
Gavin, J. 2005. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Whitworth, L., Kimsey-House, H., & Sandahl, P. 1998. Co-active Coaching. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.
TopicsCareer IssuesPersonal TrainingPersonal Training: Ethics/Scope of Practice
ReferencesBandura, A. 1997. Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Bohm, D., & Nichol, L. 1996. On Dialogue. New York: Routledge.
Cantwell, S., & Rothenberg, B. 2000. The benefits of lifestyle coaching. IDEA Personal Trainer, 11 (7), 24–35.
Coach U. 2005. Coach U’s Essential Coaching Tools. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Gavin, J. 2005. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Gavin, J., & Mcbrearty, M. 2003. Lifestyle Fitness Coaching Training Guide. Montreal: private printing.
Martin, C. 2001. The Life Coaching Handbook. Carmarthen, Wales: Crown House.
Neenan, M., & Dryden, W. 2002. Life Coaching: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach. East Sussex, England: Brunner-Routledge.
Roberts, S.O. (Ed.) 1996. The Business of Personal Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Strachan, D. 2001. Questions That Work. Ottawa: ST Press.
Whitworth, L., Kimsey-House, H., & Sandahl, P. 1998. Co-active Coaching. Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black.
Yankelovich, D. 1999. The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict Into Cooperation. New York: Simon & Schuster.
IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 2, Issue 9
How do you relax? Reading an engaging book (I love C.S. Lewis), soaking in a mineral-infused bath, embarking on a sun-filled spa day? Well, how does an afternoon paddle-boating under the autumn sky with the one you love sound? On this beautiful Saturday, there was no place I’d rather be. A short drive away, Sweetwater Park was a welcomed getaway to center our spirits.
After our in-town excursion, we journeyed to downtown College Park to a trendy restaurant tucked away in Hotel Indigo for a quick bite of spicy chicken tacos (shared plates on dates are much more fun). What's the takeaway? In a world of busy lifestyles, know that your mini-vacay is just minutes away.