The first rule of Personal Training is to do no harm, and to make the client enjoy their training session. The first day with a personal trainer should involve nothing more than a quick assessment session (see how they move), a few questionaires to ensure the client is healthy enough to train and setting up future sessions.....Unless it's your best friend - If it's your best friend you train with him, and you train with him like you used to 5 years ago.
My best friend Nick, AKA Doctor Dom (because he's a professor, a doctor and has an internet radio show where he uses this title) and I have trained together for at least 10 years together up until about 4 years ago. Nick is/was a phenominal basketball player his entire life, infact, he was so good he walked onto a D-2 school and made the team. We used to work, lift weights and play basketball together most days of the week. Nick was a machine on and off of the court.
After Nick received his degree, got married, had kids and starting working 4 jobs (full time teaching and part time teaching online), he completely stopped working out and playing basketball. The last time Nick touched a basketball or weight has been atleast two years. But him being my best friend, I didn't care about him being a "rookie" again in the gym. So this morning (while on vaca), we trained together in the hotel's gym. The gym had nothing but three crappy treadmills, an elliptical and a rack of dumbbells.
After a quick warm up, I began the workout with a brutal compound set of dumbbell rows to machine low rows with slow eccentric drops. We did four sets and then moved on to dumbbell military presses to hand release push ups. After four more rounds of that hell, we moved on to bicep curls and lateral raises. By this point Nick was giving me the death stare and I was in my own little world and enjoying my endorphin rush, Nick was smoked and laid on the gym floor (hence the picture above)...I then realized that I pushed my friend too hard.
I finally threw in the towel and we decided to go eat breakfast. Now while at breakfast where Nick and I usually eat like kings because we're big guys and we love food, Nick didn't eat much at all. He was sweating and he looked pale, and wanted to go back up to the room and relax. After a cold shower and a couple of hours, Nick finally recovered and we enjoyed the rest of our vacation.
There are many lessons we can learn through this experience, most importantly is not to push clients too hard during the first few training sessions, regardless of their previous training age. Training needs to be a nice, slow, gradual climb to good health and fitness, not an ass whooping. Not only did Nick have a bad experience which may sway his future decisions on training with me again, but he was at higher risk of injury due to him not being in great shape and training with that type of intensity and volume. Not to mention, the upcomming days of soreness that I can promise you he will be feeling for the next three or four days.
So lets review:
When you're starting out, crawl before you walk (unless it's your best friend)
Keep your sets and reps low and your weights light in the beginning
Master Movements First
Make training FUN
"The difference between a callus and a blister is proper progression"