It only takes one time. One bad bounce of a ball. One trip over a “landmine” on the floor. And your positive session with a client can go from positive to nightmare. The purpose of this article is to remind you of the critical importance of SAFETY every single day, every single moment.
It can happen to you. You got a group of 12 people. Partner them up so we now have 6 groups. Jam Ball slams for 10 slams per person. “Ready….Begin.” And then boom. Rep #1, set #1, the ball goes right into a client’s face as she slammed the ball into the ground and looked down. And she is a seasoned, savvy fitness enthusiast that trains all the time. She’s not even a beginner.
So often we “assume” the client “should know” the medicine ball is going to bounce back at them when you do a “slam” or “wall throw.” Or we “assume” they should not look down when doing a slam. So often we “assume” they know they need to lean back when doing a lat pulldown so the bar doesn’t knock them in the head. So often we “assume” they see the dumbbell sitting erroneously on the floor can be seen when doing a step-up.
So I’ve been thinking about it all day. Safety. Let’s make sure we are FOCUSED on SAFETY. Here are 10+ ways you can prevent accidents from happening and ensure a positive, safe session and experience for your clients:
- Don’t “slam” with a regular medicine ball. Use a non-bouncing med ball (jam balls). And if you don’t have enough, get more. Or group them into larger groups. Dynamax med-balls are OK but they don’t withstand the on-going beating if you’re doing slams with them. Use jam balls. ‘Nough said!
- If using a “plyo-rebounder”, realize that any object you throw into it will come back at the same speed. Warn this to your clients. This is dangerous and people aren’t often ready for it. And be sure the angle of the rebounder is upright so it won’t shoot back at their face.
- Don’t let go of exercise tubing handles. If you partner clients up with tubing, WARN THEM NOT to let go of the handles. Be careful of exercise selection and WHO you pair up when doing exercises. For example, you don’t want to partner up some beastly client with a petite young female. You get the idea.
- The TRX Rip Trainer or SuperBands WILL recoil. If you use the TRX RIP TRAINER, be sure to let them know about the “recoil” that WILL happen when you press, pull, or rotate the TRX RIP TRAINER. Otherwise, you may have a metal bar in your forehead.
- Be careful when using Val-slides or slideboards. Don’t assume everyone is “athletic” and realizes what’s going to happen when they slide on a slick surface. SPOT THEM and show them how it’s done. I often hold their hands the first couple times to ensure their safety.
- “Be careful of the soap on the rope.” If it involves a rope, be careful. Tornado balls, battling ropes, thick jump ropes. I have had tornado balls break and the balls go flying. Battling ropes are dangerous—especially to curious on-lookers as they are walking by and can easily get whacked or tripped. And be careful with heavy, thick jump ropes. I have seen many a sprained ankles jumping the big ropes. Risk vs. reward with those big jump ropes.
- Check your balls. Now is a great time of the year to do inventory. Is it time for new medicine balls, Swiss Balls, Superbands, or other elastic or rubber products?
- Start with lighter weight than you think the client can do initially. Progress up. Don’t overload too quickly. Save the heavier weight for the last set. This includes positioning for exercises on the TRX. Start “easy”, establish confidence, and then let them “go for it” on their last sets once a foundation is set.
- Don’t assume everyone can do a “Swiss Ball Bench Press.” If you choose to use a Swiss Ball and dumbbells at the same time, don’t assume people have balance like you and can just roll out on the ball, put their upper back, shoulders, and neck on the ball, and start cranking out chest presses. Introduce the ball as if they’ve never been on it. Use a much lighter weight then they are accustomed to doing, and once again, progress properly. And finally, make sure your Swiss ball is inflated to a firm pressure and doesn’t have too much give in it.
- Use proper form. Especially with the most dangerous exercises. Deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, Olympic lifts, tire flips, and the list goes on and on. I guess most exercises can be dangerous if we don’t COACH a client HOW to do them. Again, we must COACH. So COACH!!!
- Spot correctly. Stand behind your client when doing box jumps, step-ups, or elevated work. You do NOT want them to fall backwards. And if you are teaching a group, spot the person that has the most dangerous move or the person in the group that needs the most attention.
- Be sure the bar is anchored and secured. Inverted pull-ups, inverted chin-ups, pushups on a bar. I’ve seen it all. And this one is not good. If you are doing any pulls or presses on a barbell in a squat cage, make sure the bar IS secure.
- Warm up adequately. If you’re younger than 40 years old, you may not feel me on this. But if you’re 40 or above, you might empathize with me. It takes me 20 good minutes to get warmed up these days. I tell my athletes every day to get “lathered up” before we get hitting it hard. So warm-up your clients really good or encourage them to come in to your session early and get their heart-rates up. Then once they are “lathered up”, watch out.
- Be careful of competition. I love competition. Clients love competition. But it is by far where most injuries occur. Whether it be a relay race, a “tag” game, a game of boot camp football, or any other competition, when people heighten their competitive juices and think they are 18 again, competition brings out the best and worst in people. So if you decide to use competition as part of a session, choose your games and match-ups carefully.
- CLEAN UP the gym. It’s amazing how just having “junk” lying around on the gym floor increases the chance of accidents and injury. Think about it. Foam rollers lying around. Random dumbbells, kettlebells, or heavy ropes lying on the floor. And people don’t see it. Heck, people trip all the time just on carpet. Think about the dangers of all the “stuff” on the floor that clients/members can trip on.
The purpose of this article is to REMIND YOU of the dangerous territory we PLAY in everyday. And if you are tired or distracted or you lose focus, it’s easier for something to occur. Or, WHEN you’re clients are tired or distracted, they won’t even hear your cueing as they are often in their own world.
It is said that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I hope this article serves as a reminder for the heighted awareness that we MUST have right now with our clients because they are tired…they are distracted…and they have a thousand things on their mind. Tune them in and do everything you can to provide a great, SAFE, experience and session.
And if this article makes you think twice about something you say or do this week, it served its purpose. Time to be GREAT..and SAFE!