As Fitness professionals, we work with many demographics and training populations. From your senior and youth population, to more specialized such as cardiac rehab or eating disorders, we are faced with different challenges during our sessions. These clients prove to be the most rewarding given the right effort and determination of both the trainer and the client.
One particular training population that might be overlooked and that I have had the pleasure to work with recently is the addictions client. These individuals are seeking to maintain long term sobriety, and to learn how to live their lives without alcohol or drugs. They learn hard facts about themselves and the many reasons they lived their lives in addiction. These clients are now facing their issues directly and this involves serious mental and emotional resolve. Some of the hard facts about addiction are that they truly have a “disease” and they need help to overcome the dependence.
I am currently working in Naples, Florida with a residential adult substance abuse rehab program called Crossroads at David Lawrence Center, where clients stay an average of 3-4 weeks. Clients voluntarily admit themselves into this program after a three to five inpatient detox. The format for the class we teach includes low-impact body weight and light aerobic exercises in a group setting. The purpose is to teach the client that by exercising, the body will release natural endorphins such as serotonin. The client may not realize that they have been using alcohol and drugs to replace these naturally occurring endorphins and we now teach them the healthier way.
I interviewed 2 clients that requested to remain anonymous for the purpose of this piece. For the sake of this piece will call them Grace (26 years old), and Justin (28 years old).They have been exercising with us for the last few weeks.. They both started with feelings of depression, anxiety, and physically felt like their system was still detoxing the drugs and alcohol. Immediately after their first class they felt better and had more energy. Although exercise was a challenge at first, they felt a sense of accomplishment being able to finish the class.
After 2 weeks of exercising four to six days week that included 2 days each of circuit training, yoga and periodic walking, their emotional swings was considerably less. They both felt natural endorphins after exercising and a sense of peace of mind and happiness.
They both stated that sobriety is “40% physical, and you must take care of your physical wellbeing.” The byproducts are “emotional stability and increased self-esteem.”
Training unique clients can present a series of unexpected challenges, and part of being a great trainer is to be prepared when working with specialty groups. In my experience, especially in this setting, the client is not always enthusiastic about exercising. In order to best operate, I’ve had to reassess the situation, make changes, and do my best to keep the enthusiasm high, without pushing them too hard. At the end of the day, the gratitude I’ve felt from the client when they thank me for working out with them, shows me the positive impact exercise can make on an individual’s life.
This article was written by Nino Magaddino. The author’s opinions are their his own and neither ELIVATE nor NASM takes responsibility for content, statements and opinions. You should seek expert counsel in evaluating opinions, treatments, products and services. For more info see our Editorial Policies.