When I started my fitness career as a personal trainer, I scoffed when clients told me they had great workouts from yoga. The majority of my clients' goals were LGN -- "look-good-naked." With that in mind, the idea that yoga was beneficial seemed ridiculous. After all, everything I learned in school about increasing lean tissue and decreasing body fat revolved around strength training, cardio programming at varying intensities, nutrition education and behavioral changes.

    I always started clients off with an assessment that included movement screening, postural analysis, corrective exercise and health assessment measures. Clients were given "homework," including myofascial release and dynamic warm-up activities, as well as supplemental flexibility work. Although the majority of my clients showed consistent improvement, many of them showed signs of overtraining, even with proper progression, nutrition and planned recovery. A tired client is a client that cancels. A client that cancels means you do not get paid.

    I eventually was convinced to give yoga a try by a girl I desperately wanted to impress. While I would never qualify that first yoga session as difficult, I had the best night of sleep I can remember. The next day, I decided to search the journals for the benefits of yoga and I then became a believer.

    Tangible Yoga Benefits for Training Clients

    1. Yoga movements and poses improve integrated mobility and flexibility, creating length through the entire kinetic chain. This integration addresses fascial lines and connections throughout the body that are not addressed by isolated stretching alone. It also increases movement ability and efficiency. If you would like an example, search "side-triangle" pose.

    2. A second benefit of yoga is correct alignment and posture. Performing poses creates awareness and teaches participants how to "open-up" tight muscles while "activating" commonly long and weak postural muscles. For example, a lot of clients sit slouched over a desk for eight hours a day, creating tightness in the pectoralis minor and weakness in the scapular retractors. Check out "Warrior II" yoga pose.

    3. The third, and in my opinion the most important, benefit is decreased sympathetic nervous system stimulus. Supported by research, yoga can decrease levels of anxiety and cortisol, which wreak havoc on recovery, happiness and physical improvement.

    Yoga can improve mobility, stability, and recovery, making your clients happier and healthier. Add value and help your clients by encouraging a yoga class, even once a week. If you want a more proactive approach, earn a yoga certification and offer small group sessions for your clients, increasing your revenue, customer loyalty and improving the health of your clients. After all, happy, healthy clients are more willing to come back and continue training to LGN!

    Nick Clayton (MBA, MS, CSCS,*D, RSCC) is an Education Coordinator for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He worked for 5 years as a personal trainer, started a personal training program at the University of Florida and worked as Director of Strength and Conditioning for TMI Sports Medicine. Nick earned a Master's degree in Exercise Science and a Master's degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida.

    Topic: Certification/Education

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