Stop assuming your clients are like you and being a crutch for them

People will adhere to a program and continue to train based on 2 things.
Fun and measurable results.
One is subjective and the other is objective.

Don’t make the mistake thinking that just because you could do deadlifts (or any type of exercise for that matter) for a year to get results anyone else would enjoy that too. That mentality could only bring frustration.
There are very few people dedicated enough to go through a training regiment treating it as if it was a doctors prescription to get the appropriate results. Save that for the elite, dedicated athletes (or for yourself).

I always hated lying to clients and I still never do. I just couldn’t do it. I saw many others do it with great success but it wasn’t right for me. I also hate bypassing my own beliefs and training philosophies to get more clients. I never went with marketing. Maybe that’s why I never had as many clients as other trainers did. If a prospective client would tell me: “I wanna look like you, my answer always was “are you willing to put the time effort and discipline that is required” and I would briefly follow that with a short outline of my training and diet routine.

Few people will agree to something like that. And that is ok. Remember that we (fitness freaks) are not the normal. Weighing every meal, eating monotonous food, eliminating sugar to achieve a sub 8% body fat is not only not normal but can border anti social. I still do it sometimes but I know what I am doing now and I try not to impose it on others. I realize how limiting it can be on me and on my close environment. Nevertheless, that was something that upset me in the beginning. When I first started my job as a trainer i was a romantic. I wanted to create athletes and physic models I guess. Wrong way of thinking.

What you hold aesthetically pleasing is highly subjective. You are not a sculptor dealing with clay or marble trying to recreate over and over your masterpiece. Your vision maybe inches to light years away from your clients.

The only thing you can be firm about in your training is health and functionality. You don’t cut corners there. In everything else the client is always right. Use your knowledge to deliver their dreams and expectations rather than justifying your own ego.

I was anal, would get frustrated when the program wouldn’t go exactly as planned (effort wise from the client, adherence, exercise selection etc) and that had a negative impact in the whole training relationship. I would be unhappy because of high expectations and so would the client.

The other end of the spectrum is trainers that adhere to the concept “give them 10% of what they need and 90% of what they want”. I call them the babysitters. A few other names come to mind but it would be Inappropriate to put them in writing. A few examples.

When I see trainers placing their clients on the treadmill for a warmup on their paying time it makes me wanna crawl out of my skin. I try not to even take my clients through stretching or mobility after a while. I have them do it on their own. I try to be there only when I am needed. Resistance training part that is.

I see trainers that chat more than they train, talk on their cell phones, talk to others, unmotivated, trainers that look away when the client is performing an exercise in terrible form. The list can go on and on. And we wonder why personal training has gotten a bad rep. Why prices are falling like dead dry leaves….

Which takes me to the next point. Don’t hold your clients back. Have them spread their wings after a while. Go on their own. Let me explain. Some clients eventually become so proficient, so good at what they do and what they have learned that they could be better than many trainers that I know (In program design!). When you reach a client at that level he/she should be confident to go on his/her own (don’t cry). These clients who really don’t need me. They just want me (dirty minds). At least they KNOW that. If they still want to train with me after that point, it’s THEIR choice. They may still want to the push, the motivation, the extra knowledge.

My belief is that you should be showing, explaining, mentoring, sharing the knowledge so the client can eventually feel INDEPENDENT. You want to help someone cross the bridge of knowledge from point A to point B. In the process try to give them all you can and then some! If not, you will act like a crutch and the person will never be CONFIDENT enough to stand on their own. I don’t want to be a handicap for my clients. I want to be proud of them. Better than me. Reach the point where they surpass their teacher. That is in my eyes the true success of a trainer.

Train your clients as close to how they want to be trained making sure they get measurable results and the necessary “tools” along the way. Earn their honest trust. Then you can pretty much do anything and they will follow. Be truthful and objective. Shoot for aggressive but attainable goals. At the end of the day you will feel great with your own self too.

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