OK, you’re creating the ultimate program for your client, they’ll get metabolic conditioning, strength, fat loss, the lot. You’ve ticked all the boxes….or have you?

What about incorporating some FUN? Yes, the “F” word. How about a bit of play?  Is playing a frivolous act that has no outcome, is it a waste of time? When it comes to programming for our clients, is play just for kids?

How many times do your clients show up for their sessions after having a tough day at work, sitting in traffic, totally dehydrated and undernourished? When they’re in this stressed state their bodies and their brains are on guard, which is not a great start to the session. Why not play a game with your client to warm them up, decrease stress, lower anxiety and give them some relief from what ails them?

Play, and in particular, laughter has been shown to have numerous health benefits including: reducing anxiety, reducing tension, decreasing feelings of depression. It’s a powerful tool to help fight serious conditions and diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

Dr. William F Fry of Stanford University states that laughter is a good aerobic exercise. He says that 100 laughs a day equals ten minutes of rowing or jogging! Lloyd (Journal of General Psychology, 1938) showed that laughter is a combination of deep inhalation and full exhalation, inspiring excellent ventilation, wonderful rest and profound release. Laughing increases the capacity and oxygenation capabilities of the lungs.

Laughter has a built-in balancing mechanism with a two-step action of stimulation and relaxation because of the release of the chemicals adrenaline and noradrenaline. As those of us who enjoy a good laugh know, it gives you a feeling of wellbeing by relieving the minor stresses and strains of daily life. Combine that with the magical feel good hormones of exercise and you have a recipe for great client retention and AMAZING client results!

Are you ready to take your role as trainer up a notch and become a “facilitator of fun”? Here are a few tips on getting play into your client’s sessions. But note: with all these great games, please make sure you are in a clear area with no obstructions; once people get into play they get caught up in the moment and tend not to be quite as careful of what’s around them!

Balloon Games – Nothing says fun like colorful balloons. Watch your client’s face light up as you use balloon games like “Balloon Taps” “Balloon Tennis” and “Chase the Balloon”! The master of fun and function (and PTA Global founder) Ian O’Dwyer has revolutionized the use of play in our industry and he is a GURU with balloons!

Mirror, Mirror – As a coach you take the role as leader, asking your client to maintain contact with your hand, your finger, your elbow, as you have fun and ask your client to mirror your movements. The goal is to facilitate your client to move in multiple planes of motion and of course have FUN.

Fit Ball “Wrestle” – Asking your client to hold (hug) the fit ball, wriggle and wrestle for a bit of rough and tumble play! Try including a push and resist action and a rotation. This always gets giggles AND it’s great total body reactive training!

When your clients laugh and smile as well as getting a great workout, they reconnect with the kid in them. They’ll feel better, enjoy their workouts and who knows, you might even have fun too!