August 01, 2008
We all have those exercises that we hope won't pop out of the hopper. Mine include heavy thrusters and Tabata pull-ups. Why? Because they test my abilities and highlight my weaknesses-- they're hard! If you gathered your potential clients into a hopper, are there some you're hoping you won't have to deal with? Maybe you dread getting a call from that client with heart disease because you have less experience or the challenge is risky. Training the unfit or sick is hard. It can test our abilities not only as a trainer but as a person.
Working with special populations is a new challenge for many CrossFit trainers. As more and more people discover the benefits of CrossFit, we will see a corresponding increase in clients with a variety of maladies such as coronary arterial disease, multiple sclerosis, lymphoma, and cancer. CrossFit can uniquely benefit these patients who struggle for health. Every client who walks through our door has a purpose: to get better. Every workout, every rep, every grueling second is all about getting better.
Trainers walk a fine line when they work with clients who are medically fragile. A common thread with cardiac and pulmonary patients, as well as many other types of special populations, is that the client's capacity to do work is often greatly diminished.
Furthermore, they are typically being told by the medical community not to push themselves beyond what feels good. As a result, they suffer a lack of confidence in their ability to do anything physically demanding. The CrossFit approach to performance based measurements is a great tool for assisting clients who, in the end, just want to see an improvement in their quality of life.