“I really wished we had put a banner up that said: You have the choice to say no or modify any exercise.“
It’s sad to me that this has to be said. It makes sense though, fitness is so often used as a punishment or a way to shrink ourselves in our culture instead of a way to build on our skills and expand who we are. This has resulted in people associating exercise with pain and often disassociating from what feels good and enjoyable to them
One way to flip the script on this is to give the power back to the participant. Give them the choice to make the decision that works for them.
Consent is an important part of any medical training, and it should be an important part of any coaching program.
Why, you may wonder, is consent important to coaching programs? To put it simply, most people have a better and more encompassing perspective of their own body than someone stepping in to help. As a medical provider, first responder, therapist or coach it is possible to do more harm than good even when well intentioned.
While attending first responder training, we were taught to ask someone before touching them, moving them, or performing any form of treatment, even in an emergency situation. This can prevent harm that is not obvious or visible to the provider.
In the fitness industry we also work with people’s bodies, and have a responsibility to keep the bodies of those we work with safe. We are here to teach movement, improve skills and performance. We can’t always see all the important background information that goes into movement like past injuries, trauma, or a poor nights sleep, and it’s important for us to defer to our students.
As a participant, know that you can always say no or ask for a modification. It is your coach’s job to find an adjustment that works for you.
If you are a coach or personal trainer take a minute to reflect on how you coach. Are you asking for permission and giving your clients a choice?
Consent is part of our coach training and it is my hope it becomes the norm.