The First Day

The first day of school, the first day of your new job, the first day you bring your new baby home, the first day you start with a new training program.  They all are the same.  It simply is one day, to mark the start of the beginning. 

Today for much of Sweden, will mark the first day back from summer vacation.  I myself, am included in that bunch.  Next Monday will be even more folks returning to their places of work and the children will go back to school.  The Monday after that, university students will start their kicks-off, and two weeks after, on Monday university lectures start… you see.  It simply is a day.  Not a magical day.  Just a day, the first of many.   

As a personal trainer, I take part in many first days.  Each time I start working with a new client we first say hello and then I inform the client that “Today is the first day, just like the first day of school.”  With out a doubt I have probably said that one liner a couple hundred times in my career.  And yet, I still say it, because it marks the first day. 

I then continue our introduction and then go one to describe our agenda for the session.  Just like in school, I always start with introducing the course syllabus.   

Our agenda for the first day might look something like this…

  1. Introduction / Syllabus Review
  2. Review: Why did you hire me as your Personal Trainer
    1. Here we are going to review what we had already covered in our previous phone consultation. 
    1. I always start with reviewing what has been said via phone for two reasons.  First, I need to make sure that we fully understood each other and if there is anything that needs to be followed up or made clearer now is the time.  And second, I am hired to do a job.  I am hired to project lead and get my clients from point A to point B.  It is totally ok if you do not know point A, nor point B.  But I need to know what my client’s expectations are. 
    1. Furthermore, one of my golden rules is you must be able to say things out loud if you are going to do them.  So… if you secretly want to lose body fat, but you feel uncomfortable telling me and instead say orally that you want to get stronger, but deep down inside you want to go down a full pant size…  I need to know that.  So, yes, I know it might seem silly that we review our phone conversation, but communication is key.  And I need to make sure that what you say you want, is really what you want.     
  3. Warm up / Coaching Cues
    1. While we start with a few mobility patterns I am going to test different coaching methods on you to see what types of cues and signals you respond best to.
    1. I will also show you a pattern where I do not talk, and you must follow along.  Here I am simply testing how much information you can perceive with visual cues verses auditory cues.
    1. Yes folks… when starting a new training program with me… you are learning.  And so, I must quickly sort out what type of learner you are and push those cues forward.
  4. Core Activation
    1. You might think you know how to activate your core, but we are going to review, learn, and relearn the following: breathing, abdominal breathing, abdominal bracing, and bracing with movement patterns.  Those four elements in that specific order.
  5. Show and Tell
    1. We are going to start with a little game of Shown and Tell.  I tell you the pattern I want to see… and you show me.  So, for example I say squat… you show me what you know. 
    1. Show and Tell is not a PR, its not gritting your teeth to show me your best.  Its pretty simple, grab a kettlebell and show me a squat.  If you have never done a squat, then we will start there.  And if you are comfortable with the pattern, you are going to show me your cards and I am going to take notes.
    1. We will go through about 3-4 movement patters and build from there.
    1. Here is where I will introduce our teaching elements.  We will review things like tempo, why we do things a certain way, and incorporate breathing & bracing into the mix.  I also will incorporate the learning style that you respond best to.   
  6. Workout Sampler
    1. We are going to put two movement patterns together and sample this in a mini workout.   

Now, I am not going to share every detail of my agenda with my new client verbally.  They would probably zone me out and stop listening.  But you know what happens after I share the agenda, more often than not the client takes a deep sigh of relief.  Yep.  Because up until that that point, they were extremely nervous, they thought that I was going to wreak havoc on them, and were under the assumption that they were going to crawl out of the gym at the end of the 60 mins.  Nope.  Not with me, and not now.  The first day is simply one of many.  Not a special day.  Just a day, at the start.  And then we begin.

Likewise, each one of my returning PT clients knows that when they return to training with me after a break, we always start with a Welcome Back Workout. 

No matter who you are, where you are with your training, and how magical you might think your unicorn self truly is… we are going to start with a welcome back workout.  It is straight forward and gets the job done.  I need to know that what we said you knew last, you still know.  Sound familiar?  Just like taking an exam at the start of the academic term to make sure that you understand the fundamental elements that you will be building from, we will do the same.  Our Welcome Back Workout looks like this.

Welcome Back Workout

  1. Activation
    1. Breathing
    1. Abdominal Breathing
    1. Abdominal Bracing
    1. Bracing w/ Movement   
    1. Glute Activation
  2. Block 1
    1. Goblet Squat
    1. Push-up Variation
  3. Block 2
    1. RDL
    1. Pull-up Variation / TRX Row
  4. Block 3
    1. Ab Wheel / Deadbug Variation
    1. Loaded Carry

And when you are done, done is done.  There are no surprises.  No intervals or finishers at the end.  I need you to know the material that we have already reviewed and be ready to move forward.  If you need more time to develop our fundamental elements, great we will do that.  If your ready to progress to a new movement variation awesome, we will do that.  But before we run, we walk.  And we always start with a Welcome Back Workout. 

So, to review the first day is just a day.  It is not magical.  It will not solve all your problems, but it will be the first step towards wherever you are going.  And that counts for something! 

If you are starting a First Day here are my three tips.

  1. Plan an agenda for the First Day.
  2. Pack and prep everything you will need, the evening before.  Lay everything out for execution for the First Day.
  3. Keep things easy and manageable, so you can return the next day and continue.  (That is the magical day – more on that in another post)

So, folks, good luck with your first day.  Cheers with coffee, water, or whatever you need to get your productivity engine going. 

I am back at the gym and ready to start with clients. 

And like my advice, last night I prepped and packed everything in advance, laid out my clothes, and even prepped the coffee in the machine.  I arrived at my desk punctual and on time and am now executing the agenda I set for myself the night before.  I am going to take manageable steps today and show up and do it again tomorrow. 

Are you catching the pattern here?   

Contact me if you have questions or need help.  Not sure where to start? Send me an email, if it is related to training, I am happy to help.  Have any productivity tips feel free to share in the comments.    

Looking forward to chatting with you and wish you all the best on your first day back.


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