10 Things I’ve Learned As a Personal Trainer

  1. People love to playfully complain. It’s a form of bonding. They love to tell their friends about how mean their trainer is and be shocked at the number of reps you’re telling them to do. Embrace the banter.
  2. There’s nothing you can say to someone who isn’t ready to change to make them ready. I wish there was, but change is hard and everyone has their own reasons for why they aren’t willing to give up certain behaviors yet or adopt new ones. The most important thing you can do is be there and be kind.
  3. The cue that “sticks” for each person is different. As personal trainers, we love a good cue. “Pinch a penny between your butt cheeks.” “Squeeze an orange in your armpit.” “Break the bar in half.” Sometimes the first five cues won’t stick with your client, but the sixth will. So try them all.
  4. Not everyone will want to “lift heavy”. There’s a hundred different ways to help someone get fitter or change their physique. Be flexible and see tip number 5.
  5. There is a balance between giving a client what they want and still giving them what they need. I want all my clients squatting, deadlifting, pushing and pulling. However, there’s tons of different variations and progressions you can use to keep it fun and motivating.
  6. Most people have higher things on their priority list than health/fitness. For most people, health and fitness isn’t their job. They have families, work, hobbies, etc. and their fitness goals might be lower on the priority list. Understand this and show them that health/fitness is only going to make those other areas of their life better.
  7. You can’t talk women out of being afraid of “getting bulky”. Listen and respond, but then let them see through the process that getting bulky isn’t going to happen. Learning from experience is more impactful that you’re reassurance that it just won’t happen. They need to see it for themselves.
  8. Helping women (or men) do an unassisted pull up or push up is one of the best feelings. These two bodyweight movements have an instant confidence boosting effect when someone masters them for the first time. Make them a goal and celebrate when they get there.
  9. Your cleverest workout program can’t out-do a poor diet. Your client will realize this over time. Don’t help them “punish” themselves with extra cardio after a vacation either.
  10. Most people’s lives won’t let them follow a workout program 100% to the T. Expect that you will have to be flexible and adjust on the fly. A flexible workout program that already allows for this is best.

Any of those points really resonate with you? What would you add?

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