The kind of trainer I want to be.

Forgive me, but this bit of writing is just me trying to put in words some things that have been flaffing about in my head for a while.  Feel free to ignore it…


Over the last few months I have been learning about ways to help rehab people who have suffered from a stroke.  I’ve written about the nuts and bolts I learned here:

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the tremendous experience of shadowing a physio at Airedale hospital.  I spent a shift on the acute stroke ward and also a couple of shifts with out patients at the Day Hospital.  In the stroke ward I saw the physio working with people very soon after they have suffered from their stroke.  On my training course we had worked with several people after they had left the hospital and were back in everyday life.  This was a real eye opener that I was very greatful for.  But seeing the work that is done on the wards was a whole new ball game.

I’ve always known that the best way to help people is to try to understand the context they are coming from.  The classic example I see in the fitness industry is a buff, fit 20 year old telling a busy, stressed, mother:

“this worked for me, so you must do the same”.

You must know:

  • What their problems are (not what your problems are)
  • Why those problems are problems (not why you find things easy/hard)
  • What their actual goals are (not what your goals are)
  • What the path of least resistance is for them (not simply the way you did it)
  • What compromises are acceptable at this moment in time 
  • Plan B for when Plan A doesn’t work or stops working (not simply going “it worked me me, so it must work for you”)

Seeing what happened on the wards has helped me get a glimpse of what these survivors have been through and where they have come from.  This doesn’t mean I “know” what they are going through (to be brutally honest, I never want to “know” exactly what it’s like to have a stroke).  But it helps remind me to not assume stuff, but keep an open mind about the people I see.

The Day Hospital was where they saw out patients.  These are people who are back in the real world and having to adapt their lives to their new circumstances.  And compared to the wards, this was much closer to the kind of people I have seen and worked with over the last few years.

And it was great seeing a professional doing what I have found myself trying to do (means I’m on the right track!  Woo hoo!)

  • Find out what they want to do.
  • Find out what they can do.
  • Find out what they can’t do
  • Find a path from one place to the other.
  • Be prepared to change that path as and when it’s needed.
  • Use whatever tools are available and don’t be a slave to any single tool.
  • Adapt as and when needed.

But just the few hours I was there has shown me new ways to see problems, assess things and try to improve things.  It also showed me a whole new world I want to look into….

I thought I knew a bit about balance (spending my entire life doing martial arts moving, bouncing, jumping, kicking etc).  But after shadowing a single half hour appointment with a single patient has made me realise I have loads to learn on the subject…and I’m excited about that!  I can’t wait to get stuck in and learn more!