Health And Wellness

My 4 Most Awkward Confessions After 15 Years As A Personal Trainer

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personal trainer in gym

I have finally hung up my Skechers, the trainers that are terrible for working out in; but oh-so-comfortable when standing for hours training clients for 15 years. So I guess it’s time for a few confessions.

My journey has been simple enough. I started as a Personal Trainer traveling here, there, and everywhere to work with clients in their homes or run classes in local church halls.

Then I progressed to opening my own facility, eventually with a packed schedule every week. But after 15 years doing the same thing, you start to feel like you’re only using 30% of your brain, y’know?

I needed a new challenge. And so as my income from writing and online coaching grew, I knew where my career path was leading me. I closed the doors to my training studio.

I’ve now had some time to reflect upon the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of my time as a personal trainer. I’m proud of some things and a bit embarrassed by others.

Here are my 4 most awkward confessions after 15 years as a personal trainer:

1. That ‘free consultation’ was for me not them.

I left a perfectly good corporate career because I couldn’t stand having to work with people who annoyed me. This was mainly due to their incompetence and/or hidden agendas.

So I sure as hell was not going to take on clients who I could tell was looking for somebody else to blame for their inability to get in shape, or who I just instantly disliked (e.g. it’s-not-my-fault attitude, constant political/misogynistic chat).

I billed that FREE 30-minute trial session and consultation as a way for clients to get to know me, see if my style of training was what they wanted, and have a look around my studio.

But… it was actually for me to gauge if I could stand working with them for months and whether they were someone who was ready to change. When some people expressed an interest in booking sessions and I came back to them saying my schedule was suddenly really full… that was my No A**holes Policy in action.

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2. I lied about clients’ fat loss (for their own good).

This is the only morally dubious confession I feel. So the Weekly Weigh-In that some clients insisted on could be a stressful occasion. Especially for those desperate to lose weight ASAP.

The thing is, our body weight fluctuates throughout the days and weeks, rising with salty food and booze, and falling with lower carb days and active days. Sometimes weight loss/gain wasn’t body fat. It was water or muscle.

The number on the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. When a client sticks rigidly to the nutrition plan they expect a pay-off, otherwise, the whole project feels pointless: “I said No to Cake all week — now where’s my f*ckin fat loss?”.

Sometimes if I knew they had stuck to the diet plan and yet the number on the scale hadn’t budged, I would get out my Trusty Measuring Tape. Then I would find some loss of inches somewhere on their body, which occasionally involved pulling the tape tighter than I should have, to ‘prove’ their efforts were worth it. This would then keep them happy, motivated, and sticking to the plan.

9 times out of 10 the number on the scale was down the following week as they’d stayed on track for long enough for body fat loss to happen, thanks to the boost of ‘losing inches’ the previous week. As I said, morally dubious, right? But for the right reasons so…

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3. The ‘customized program’ was often the same as the last guy’s.

After about a year of working with clients of various fitness/strength levels and with a multitude of goals, you’ve kind of seen it all.

Yes, I’d occasionally have a client with a hip replacement, sport-related goals, or a specific heart condition, but most people wanted the same things — lose weight, look better, get fit and strong. Gen-Pop Goals.

So as much as I said I had ‘customized’ a program for a client for their specific goals… sometimes I would do the exact same workout with 4–5 different clients in a day because they all had the same goals and starting point. Whether smart or sneaky, it was just more efficient from my side.

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4. I ran to the door to greet some clients.

My facility was upstairs and appointment-only. Clients needed to buzz the door when they arrived and I would come down the stairs and let them in. When you get a client who is eager to learn, does their ‘homework’, pushes themselves in sessions, rarely moans, and arrives with a smile on their face, full of chat… well, that’s what makes the job worth doing.

I would race down those stairs and greet them with a smile as big as theirs. I was looking forward to nailing another great session. And I would gush about them later that evening to my wife.

Thanks to Confession #1 this happened with the majority of clients too.

I will miss chatting with clients in person each day. Well… most of them anyway.

I have helped a lot of people get fitter, slimmer, healthier, and happier over the years, and those things I’ve just confessed were either for my clients’ long-term progress or my own mental well-being.

If you work for yourself I highly recommend finding a process for filtering out a**holes early… it ensures you only work with nice people who respect you and are willing to put in the work. In my case, this allowed me to bring my Best Self to work every day, and do my best work for my clients.

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Chris Davidson is a men's lifestyle coach and health & fitness writer.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.