Understanding exercisers better
I’d like to share a little perspective…. Something I didn’t always appreciate with exercises was the feelings they may have when they began to exercise. I remember working with one particular client who was doing some regular walking. I was monitoring them closely, checking their skin colour, and their breathing using Borg’s modified Rate of Perceived Exertion.
The exerciser seemed comfortable until they said, ‘Chris, I have to slow down.’ When I enquired why, they replied, ‘because I’m starting to sweat.’ To me, this was an odd comment to make, so I asked again, ‘on the scale we discussed where are you?’ They replied a 5 or 6.I was confused.
The exerciser stopped walking and we had a discussion. It turned out that when they were at school, they were always pushed incredibly hard and this made them hate exercise. When I dug deeper it turned out the rise in body temperature made them feel very uncomfortable.
It was many years later that I began to fully comprehend this. After a prolonged absence from any exercise and having had shoulder surgery, I was extremely deconditioned. When I finally returned to some gentle static cycling, I noticed just how uncomfortable I felt as I started to warm up. It wasn’t until I broke into a full sweat that I felt better.
Until that moment I had become so accustomed to the warm-up and the feelings associated with it, that I paid no attention to them. From that day forward, I began to become more aware of what I was feeling, although, of course after a long time it became second nature again. What I haven’t forgotten though is that others are experiencing things that we don’t necessarily understand and need to appreciate…
Within the fitness industry, if we are to truly to raise someone’s confidence, we have to show empathy and understanding and we have to convey this understanding back to them.
In the wise words of the late Dr Steven Covey, ‘When you really listen to another person, from their point of view and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.’