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Red Lighting

Getting Your Clients To “Buy In” to the System

One question that we often get asked is “how do you deal with the clients that don’t buy in to the system?”  There are two major things that I feel contribute to us hearing this question.

1)   You haven’t bought in yourself

2)   It’s hard for you to explain in ways that clients “get it”

My goal with this article is to give you a few reasons, explanations, and metaphors that will help you and your clients understand why they can’t ‘smash it” on certain exercises.

It’s Temporary – It’s extremely important that after you screen a client, find dysfunction, and tell them there are certain things that they can’t do, that you let them know this is temporary.  Screening and following the FMS Hierarchy will almost always point you to the right place when it comes to corrective strategy.  If this is the case, which means you screened correctly, and chose an appropriate exercise, your corrective strategy should work very quickly. Most cases the corrective strategy should work in as little as one session to a week. If not, you are most likely in the wrong place or using the wrong strategy. If you are having a hard time correcting a movement on the FMS, you may consider dropping down a level in the hierarchy, or referring to an SFMA clinician.

This Road Block Has Been Holding You Back – You have to give them some hope at this point because telling then it’s temporary isn’t going to get them pumped to train with you. Letting them know that you found something that has been holding them back from getting the results they have been working for is a great way to reassure them that the corrective exercises are a good idea.  Basically, let them know that when they remove the roadblock, they will get better results.


Everyone is familiar with hitting a plateau, and dysfunction is major contributor to plateau. Remove the dysfunction and decrease the plateau effect.  Let them know that if they have been “stuck” then corrective exercise can get them “unstuck”, as long as they don’t do anything that will cause them more harm than good.

“Red Lighting” Exercises In Group Fitness and Sports Training

Red Lighting exercises is one of the most important aspects of Smart Group Training.  Doing screens or assesments, giving people corrective exercises, and better programing are great, but none of that makes a difference at all if people are doing exercises that causing them more harm than good or reversing all of the good you did with your corrective exercises.

So what exactly is “Red Lighting”?  

It’s very simple. Red Lighting exercises means ensuring that your group training clients don’t do exercises they should’t be doing. Pretty easy concept in theory, but how do you make sure it is happening?

So how do you incorporate proper Red Lighting into your group training? 

First things first, you have to make sure you have properly screened the client.  We use the FMS screen because it’s easy to run in a group and sets a standard that we can use to make sure we are properly progressing and red lighting our clients.

Second you have to have a system to make sure you know what limitation your clients have when you are training them in a group.  In some situations you will know all of your clients and you will know what they should and shouldn’t be doing by heart, but what happens when you get over 100-200+ clients with multiple trainers working with the same people?  You need a system, and the FMS and Smart Group Training can help you develop your system.  In fact, just use ours!

What we do

Like I mentioned above, the FMS screen is the first thing we do.  Each person is screened on intake before doing anything.  With the FMS screen, we find the major limitations that each client may have and relate those back to training.  From there we we have a Red Light Poster in our studio that we made which has each movement and some examples of exercises that are red lighted for people with 1’s on that part of the FMS screen.  We decided recently to take that a step further and color code each movement in the screen.  If the client scores a 1 on any of the movements they receive a colored bracelet that corresponds to that movement.  Each exercise listed for that day has a color next to it if it’s red lighted and if you have that color bracelet you do the alternate or corrective exercise instead.  This really makes it easy for the trainers to know if the clients have any 1’s on the FMS screen, by quickly glancing at their wrist.

Here’s an easy example…..

A client scores a 1 on the shoulder mobility screen

They receive a yellow bracelet

Tall kneeling shoulder press is a selected exercise in the group training session

Tall kneeling shoulder press has a yellow square next to it on the workout card indicating its Red Lighted for Shoulder Mobility 1’s

The client does a shoulder mobility corrective like reach backs or wall slides during the time for shoulder press

All that they have to do is look at their wrist to see what is Red Lighted and the trainers can quickly see if they made a mistake or were sneaky

That’s a pretty good summary of how to Red Light certain exercises in group training.  If you have any questions about Red Lighting please feel free to post in the comments section and we will be glad to help!