Trainer Q/A: A parent hired me to work with a child who’s not interested.
Q: A parent hired me to work with her child on training and nutrition, but the child doesn’t seem interested. What’s my next step?
A: Work on building trust. Overweight kids and teens don’t always feel good about themselves and may see you as another adult telling them what to do. They may feel pressured or judged. If a child doesn’t want to participate, go for a walk and talk about something they like, such as a favorite artist, TV show, school activity, or dance move. Use any clue to start a conversation: compliment a hairdo, ask about the picture on their T-shirt. I usually keep our conversations just between us.
The next step is making exercise feel like play. Can they run faster than you across the gym? Do more squats? Introduce modalities by talking about yourself. “Oh, you know what I do so I don’t get really sore? I foam roll first. Want to try it? Let’s play around and see how it feels.” It may take a few weeks to build up to the workout you had planned, but it’s worth the time. I also explain my approach to parents so they understand why I’m not pushing their child into an intense routine right away.
EXPERT: Latreal Mitchell, NASM-CPT, CES, YES, started the nonprofit Fitness Bunch Foundation that runs summer fitness camps for kids. Her hip-hop kids’ workout video, Get Fit, has generated more than 26,000 YouTube hits.
Have a question you’d like us to cover? Send it to us at AmericanFitness@nasm.org.