T Nation

Abandon Convictions for Clients

sigh

So I’ve just entered the “real world” of personal training. Formerly, I was isolated from the shock of commercialism by working for an institution. As a staff trainer, to a certain degree, my performance did not matter. Not that I didn’t try.

I’ve always taken my job seriously and have made an effort to be at the top of my game, using only the most effective methods. That has now changed.

I have tried to begin sessions by analyzing clients, telling them when they have serious shoulder issues, internally rotated humeri, kyphosis, etc. I’ve tried to explain why the circuit is a waste of time. I’ve tried to explain how cardio is the best way to get a six pack.

After going through the process, watching another “functional” trainer reach ridiculous success, and getting tips from my boss, I’ve realize that people don’t want a trainer who is like a doctor. They don’t want a specialist.

My job, I realize, is just a souped-up babysitter. I’m an entertainer.

People don’t want to do squats - they want to play with colorful balls. They don’t care about what rep ranges actually work - they just want to feel sore the next day. People just want to have fun and pretend they’re not exercising. I’ve realized that the job of the trainer is really to just make exercise seem like - well, not exercise.

There’s a trainer at my gym who actually has a client who comes in three times a week, paying $40 a pop, to - get this - do the circuit with the trainer. Yeah… really.

So the other day, I try it. Abandon it all, pick up the pretty ball, and run a client through a functional session. Guess what? She… “loves” me. Yeah. Should I be surprised? I guess not.

I feel like I’m giving up my convictions. I feel like people should be coming in and doing their squats.

Then I step away and look at these people. These are simple people. They live hard days at work. They already have a hard life. And they’ve actually stopped making excuses and have decided to come into the gym. Unlike everyone else out there, they’re going out on a limb and they’re making an effort to change. And I have to admire them for that.

So should I blame them for wanting to make exercise more palatable? I realize maybe I shouldn’t judge. After all, in between work on the stupid BOSU, I can throw in some light squats. I can sneak in stuff that works.

If I can just get them to keep coming, maybe I will get them to the point where they’re actually making real progress. Get them to enjoy lifting. Keep them entertained so they keep coming.

Am I compromising my convictions. Yeah, maybe. But I got into this game to help people. Being stubborn won’t get me there. I have to help people in the way they’re actually willing to helped, and hope to gradually turn them towards the light.

Well, what can I say? If you guys have any ideas for making “real” training fun, I’m all ears…

Real training is hard.

Results are fun.

Sadly, people do not want results anymore, they just want to say they go to the gym.

Just try to sneak things into the programs that actually work, like squats and deadlifts. Tell people that those exercises are the money exercises where the REAL results come from. Then, when they start to see results, they’ll know it was the squats and deads, and want more.

Hopefully.

-Gendou

Point out other clients training with the “gimmicky” balls, bosu and other assorted crap that have made zero progress by playing in the gym. Then explain to them in order to get serious results you have to train with squats, deadlifts etc. and leave playtime for the kids.

If they want soreness the next day I am sure barbell squats or split squats will be felt a lot longer than bosu balancing acts.

[quote]CLewis wrote:
I’ve tried to explain how cardio is the best way to get a six pack.
[/quote]
This did bother me a little though…Why is it better than diet and strength training?

I think your impulse to start slowly is right on. First get them to trust and, yes, like you, then throw squats and deadlifts and cleans at them as your relationship develops. Sprinkle it in slowly and then, gradually, turn up the heat.

Good clients will and should enjoy a challenge. And, down the road, you can draw their attention to the crybabys on the adductor machine who are making zero progress and give them credit for being tougher than that.

It also must be said–and I may get flamed for saying this-- that crappy clients exist: negative whiners who drag their heels, come up with excuses, show up late, etc. Sometimes you can win them over; other times you can’t, and you just have to let them go.

I dropped a client a few months back after months of trying to cheer him up, get him to enjoy himself and the progress he was making. It didn’t happen, and eventually I said “look, you’re unhappy doing this, why don’t you quit?” And he did. The lost income initially sucked, but having to face that guy’s whinging and bitching 3 hours a week was seriously f’ing my s up. And it didn’t take long before I’d replaced him with a client I adore.

Don’t comprimise too much or you’ll end up hating your job! Train the way you train and the right clients will find you. That’s my angle. DF

[quote]cain wrote:
Point out other clients training with the “gimmicky” balls, bosu and other assorted crap that have made zero progress by playing in the gym. Then explain to them in order to get serious results you have to train with squats, deadlifts etc. and leave playtime for the kids.
[/quote]

That is a great way to lose every single paying housewife or obese beginner. I used to be a personal trainer. Most of these people just want someone who looks halfway in good shape to pay attention to them for an hour.

Most of the women just want a guy they think is fine enough to brag about to their friends so they can tell every other housewife on the block that they have a personal trainer and that he’s “hawt”.

Serious people who really want to work hard…are least likely to need the average personal trainer in most gyms. That is why the guy “running the circuit” with his clients will continue to get more clients (mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money) while pseudo-chiropractor wonderboy here will see less action.

On this site, I hate people like that. I hate working out around them because a room full of sloths like that can erase any hint of “scent d’hardcore” that might have been present before they walked into the weight room. In working as a personal trainer, those people pay the bills.

I will say this much, however…personal trainers shouldn’t try to be chiropractors or physicians. If you want to be a licensed physical therapist, go to school for it.

I don’t think it’s necessary to abandon your convictions - you just have to find a way to overcome your client’s objections.

If you want to evaluate clients, focus on the pain. Every office worker’s going to have lower and upper back pain once in a while - sell yourself as a healer. Does your client play softball? Fix their shoulder and they’ll be gunning out people at home plate in no time.

Does your client want to be sore? Overtrain them a bit. It won’t kill them. Make them lunge a crapload - “functional” and functional. They want to play with a Swiss ball, make them do YTWLs.

If worst comes to worst - take their money - they’re better off in your hands, or at least you can pay the bills and help someone else.

[quote]CLewis wrote:
My job, I realize, is just a souped-up babysitter. I’m an entertainer.
[/quote]
welcome in the real world :slight_smile:
However you can choice

I “entertain” a lot of people.
But I also “train” some of them.
Often they start with me from the entertainment side of the “game” to later move to the “training” side.

You have to be a “psychologist” :slight_smile:
You have to learn to “know” and to “understand” people. These are the hard parts of our job :slight_smile:

Do your job with passion.
I don’t know where do you work, but if it is a “big commercial gym” you have 2 possibilities:

  1. you have to change gym
  2. you have to “educate” your customers transforming them to “trainee”.

BTW you need to remember the individual goal of every one.

From my personal experience I can say that the hardest part is to build a little “portfolio”. You have to find a small group of real trainee. They will be your “success case”. When they are ready the “people” will look for you for real training. But you need to demonstrate your system.

This kind of customer give you the resource to invest on the small, more passionate, group of trainee.

The other day I meet a new customer.
I say her if she wants results or fun.
She choose the 1st option. After our 1st workout she hate me. Tomorrow we’ll have the next session. Why? 'cause I listen to her needs and “training history”, to her goals and past results. Then I ask her for a month. I bet on me. And I’m sure I’ll win.

[quote]
Well, what can I say? If you guys have any ideas for making “real” training fun, I’m all ears…[/quote]

what is fun?
i think that “fun” is what you want/like to do.
And what you like to do? You like to do what give you results. But people have to understand this point, with time they learn the lesson.

It’s more difficult to turn a ship 180 degrees then it is a few degrees at a time.

Be patient and change them up a little bit at a time.

Sorry - good point - I did mean that most clients come in fat and just want to do crunches. Cardio/diet - great place to start, plus strength training for overall weightloss - but the point is, you won’t see the six pack by doing 500 crunches when you have 30 lbs of fat over your abdomen.

[quote]cain wrote:

CLewis wrote:
I’ve tried to explain how cardio is the best way to get a six pack.

This did bother me a little though…Why is it better than diet and strength training?

[/quote]

I think you have to remember that not everyone aspires to have heavy maximal lifting numbers. Not everyone wants to squat and deadlift. Shows and magazines sport funkshinal training as the way to acheiving goals that most people want in the gym.

Keep in mind that you’re pay depends on keeping them happy. If you can sneak in some squats and deadlifts, great. If not, don’t sweat it.

Wow, that sucks if that’s how your job is going.

Every single one of my clients, barring any medical contraindications, squat, dead, clean and snatch. They also do some form of HIIT including tabata.

Maybe it just takes some time to gain your clients’ trust so that when you put them under or in front of a bar and tell them it will help them lose fat/look good, they’ll believe it.

Oh, and most of my clients are middle-aged moms, so it’s not like I’m working with a bunch of athletes. You can get your clients to workout like an athlete, and their health and physique will improve because of it. It just takes time. Don’t give up.

As a service professional, your job is to give people what they want.

Very few serious trainees even use personal trainers. So your client base is going to be largely made up of lazy people.

I realize there is a human need to feel that what you’re doing matters, so I’m not mocking your situation. But given the industry you’re in, you’re going to have to deal with your share of wealthy house wives who need to “share” their feelings with you.

I hope to work up to that :slight_smile:

I think I just have to rope them in for a few sessions first. I have to get them from the first “free” session to a paid session first. People usually just ask me to show them the machines. People are so stuck on the idea of a “30 minute circuit” - even when I tell them I can do an 8-minute circuit that will wipe them out.

I definitely do HIIT, though. Try to get every client to do it on their own.

Have also been dl and squatting. Beginning to think, though, that I can distract them between sets with pretty things.

I think you’re right about gaining trust first. People look at me like I’m nuts for saying they need to eat more, do less cardio, and do fewer reps.

I will not lose hope. This, I think, will force me to become a better trainer - I have to learn to think on my toes, be more imaginative, and learn to incorporate stuff that works so they stay happy. Most of my clients are middle aged - I actually do have a fair number of older folks, which is an added challenge.

[quote]smallnomore wrote:
Wow, that sucks if that’s how your job is going.

Every single one of my clients, barring any medical contraindications, squat, dead, clean and snatch. They also do some form of HIIT including tabata.

Maybe it just takes some time to gain your clients’ trust so that when you put them under or in front of a bar and tell them it will help them lose fat/look good, they’ll believe it.

Oh, and most of my clients are middle-aged moms, so it’s not like I’m working with a bunch of athletes. You can get your clients to workout like an athlete, and their health and physique will improve because of it. It just takes time. Don’t give up.[/quote]

[quote]smallnomore wrote:
Wow, that sucks if that’s how your job is going.

Every single one of my clients, barring any medical contraindications, squat, dead, clean and snatch. They also do some form of HIIT including tabata.

Maybe it just takes some time to gain your clients’ trust so that when you put them under or in front of a bar and tell them it will help them lose fat/look good, they’ll believe it.

Oh, and most of my clients are middle-aged moms, so it’s not like I’m working with a bunch of athletes. You can get your clients to workout like an athlete, and their health and physique will improve because of it. It just takes time. Don’t give up.[/quote]

Wow, I’d sure like to know your secret, because every middle aged anyone I’ve ever had to deal with were

“crappy clients exist: negative whiners who drag their heels, come up with excuses, show up late, etc.”

…with the exception of one guy who pretty much did anything I told him, and he made tremendous progress. I loved that guy.

Unfortunately, I’m lead trainer at a Wellness Center, so all I see is middle aged folks. I feel as though I have no purpose outside the confines of my own skull. It’s horribly frustrating dragging these morbidly obese, unhappy, unhealthy sloths through their workouts. I think I might have to find something else to do 'cause this BS is killing me.

DJ

Those of you who are unhappy with your client?le need to raise your rates. This will price out the people who aren’t motivated. Plus, if you’re getting paid a lot, it’s easier to avoid getting depressed. If some rich fat fuck wants to tell me his life sucks, I’ll just smile as I think about how much money I’m making.

The biggest mistake talented people make in any profession is not charging enough. Once I raised my rates (I’m not a trainer), my happiness increased along with the bottom line.

Of course, if you want to raise your rates, you have to know your shit. And you have to look the part and know how to market. But if you are a trainer who is not going to marketing seminars and practicing your other people skills, you have as many issues as your whiny clients!

After all, designing a program for the average trainee is not hard. At all. These people eat like shit and don’t train. Unless you’re a total moron, you can help them lose weight. But getting the attention of these people are more challenging.

I’m not a personal trainer. I think I’m a typical middle-age mom who walked into the YMCA a couple of years ago and took the tour, then I was on my own. The only reason I didn’t get a personal trainer is because I couldn’t afford one.

If I had one, I can tell you right now that if he/she had thrown me right into doing squats and deadlifts, I would have hated it and quit within a month. More than likely I would have injured myself, too.

The typical middle-age woman is terribly out of shape, and has not been exercising at all. For this kind of person, doing the circuit is not a waste of time. Just going through the various range of motions on the machines and being active for an hour is quite an accomplishment.

I think it’s OK to start with the circuit (or the bosu ball, or whatever else the person has heard about and is comfortable with) and then slowly introduce the concept of doing things outside of the comfort zone that will bring better results. You’re not compromising yourself–you’re simply not scaring the client off before you can get to the real good stuff.

[quote]dragonmamma wrote:
The typical middle-age woman is terribly out of shape, and has not been exercising at all. For this kind of person, doing the circuit is not a waste of time.[/quote]

This is a good point. A weak person (due to injuries or inactivity, or both) does not have the work capacity to do squats, dead lifts, HIIT, etc. It takes weeks - and often months - to develop the work capacity necessary to do all of these things.

It really does amaze me to see guys go on an on about “rotated” shoulders when they don’t even understand fundamental concepts like work capacity.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
cain wrote:
Point out other clients training with the “gimmicky” balls, bosu and other assorted crap that have made zero progress by playing in the gym. Then explain to them in order to get serious results you have to train with squats, deadlifts etc. and leave playtime for the kids.

That is a great way to lose every single paying housewife or obese beginner. I used to be a personal trainer. Most of these people just want someone who looks halfway in good shape to pay attention to them for an hour.

Most of the women just want a guy they think is fine enough to brag about to their friends so they can tell every other housewife on the block that they have a personal trainer and that he’s “hawt”.

Serious people who really want to work hard…are least likely to need the average personal trainer in most gyms. That is why the guy “running the circuit” with his clients will continue to get more clients (mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money) while pseudo-chiropractor wonderboy here will see less action.

On this site, I hate people like that. I hate working out around them because a room full of sloths like that can erase any hint of “scent d’hardcore” that might have been present before they walked into the weight room. In working as a personal trainer, those people pay the bills.

I will say this much, however…personal trainers shouldn’t try to be chiropractors or physicians. If you want to be a licensed physical therapist, go to school for it.[/quote]

I totally agree with you X but I was just answering his question on how he could get his clients to do squats etc. as he didn’t seem to want to do the other stuff.

Unless you’re actually lying to people and or ripping them off somehow you have to do what is necessary to keep a business. I don’t see it as much more complicated than that.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
dragonmamma wrote:
The typical middle-age woman is terribly out of shape, and has not been exercising at all. For this kind of person, doing the circuit is not a waste of time.

This is a good point. A weak person (due to injuries or inactivity, or both) does not have the work capacity to do squats, dead lifts, HIIT, etc. It takes weeks - and often months - to develop the work capacity necessary to do all of these things.

It really does amaze me to see guys go on an on about “rotated” shoulders when they don’t even understand fundamental concepts like work capacity.[/quote]

While I can appreciate this point, I think that this site pushes us to believe that the squat and deadlift are (and should be) very intense exercises.

However, one of the first exercises I have my clients begin with is a version of the deadlift. Although very tame as far as intensity goes, it is a helpful tool to gauge things like ROM and work capacity.

…not to play physician or anything.