Factoring Feedback

Feedback comes in many forms. For anyone in the gym it is the aspect that defines success or failure. For me, it is the foundation of my job security. If the feedback is good, then things are running smoothly. If it isn't then I know that I need to make some changes otherwise I am in trouble. More often than not, feedback is often received after the fact. However, I have been looking at feedback in a much different light lately. Rather than sticking to the plan and hoping for positive feedback after a workout, it is the feedback that I receive prior to getting after it that has a growing influence on my programming. Of course, ther`e is a plan in place specific to goals however, it is the ability to read and understand certain feedback that makes the final decisions on the movements, intensity, load, and volume of a workout. While having a plan in place is great, it is the ability to listen, communicate, observe, and program in ink rather than stone that helps ensure long term positive feedback after the fact. Whether you are dishing out a workout or putting yourself through one, these are some subtle feedback clues that have influenced my decision making and ultimately have kept me employed over the years.

The Handshake

While it is a polite gesture, it has also become one of my biggest assessment tools. The strength of a handshake tells me a lot about confidence, but it also tells me a lot about what an individual is ready for. If it is a solid handshake, I often look at it as a clue that this person is good to go. If it is noticeably weaker I could look at a number of things. Stress, fatigue, illness, physical or emotional limitations can all be factors that could bring changes to the agenda. This is something that I frequently observe with the people that I work with as well as myself in order to make the right decisions when it comes to workout time.

The Recap

The simple questions such as "How was your day?", "How are you feeling?" often become programming decision makers. While it may take a little more communication than just these two questions, it is the ability to ask these important questions, listen carefully to the answers, and make the right decisions based on these answers that can ensure feeling better walking out of the gym than walking in. I may have a plan to test someone's max deadlift, or work capacity and they walk in and tell me about their sleep deprived, high stress, malnourished day in the boardroom I know that I need to make some changes to cater to that.

Not Exactly How It Is Meant To Go


I think it's a trainer thing but posture watching to me is as common as people watching. It is something that is drilled into my head and it has become another assessment asset. Of course it can tell you about what is tight and weak, but that is not entirely what I am after when it comes to assessing posture. More importantly, posture has become the number one indicator for me when it comes to the line of communication that an individual has with their brain and their body. For the people that I have worked with for extended periods of time, varying posture plays a big role in my decision making. If someone is hunched over more than usual, this may mean extended warming up and movement preparation and of course a workout that an individual can comprehend and apply gracefully.

The Workout Itself

What I have learned over the years is that variables may present themselves at any given time within a workout. The pursuit of feedback occurs throughout the workout as well and changes may follow. It could be anything from changing the movement, to changing the environment. Whatever needs to be done to have a movement flowing purely and pain free.

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned over the years is that not every workout is going to be the dream workout. If we had the ability to sleep perfectly, eat flawlessly, and carry zero physical and emotional baggage it may be a different story. But life happens. We all have a lot on our plate and sometimes it can affect what goes down in the gym. Rather than looking at it as a write off, look at it as an opportunity to use proper judgement with your workouts. Listen to your body, feel better walking out than you did walking in and get yourself ready to rip when the time is
right. For you trainers who may be reading this, one of the most valuable lines that I have heard over the years goes as this "Design Your Programs Around Your Clients, Not Your Clients Around Your Program''. If you can grasp this concept and apply it the positive feedback will take care of itself.

I also want to let everyone know that as of today, I have an updated website worth visiting. The ChangeLink page is ready to go and we have it packed with a growing inventory of free video, articles, as well as insights into wellness from myself, Josh Stryde, and Martyn Evans. Have a look as it will be worth your while and of course a big thanks to Wendy Ellacott for all of your help!