You have a personal trainer. But, do you know what that person goes through on a daily basis? If you did, you might find yourself in the mood of giving them an apology.
I’m sure all of you by now have said “thanks, but no thanks” to countless trainers around your gym or have signed up to train with someone once or more per week. These guys and girls may seem pushy and try to hard sell you on a bunch of stuff that you think you know better, but in reality they have made the business their lives and are mostly uneducated on how to make a sale or how to be a good salesperson plus good trainer as opposed to just one or the other.
Most people don’t realize how hard it is to actually be a trainer, because of all of the nonsense they put up with on a day-to-day basis. If you have a trainer, you have probably canceled on them at the time of your appointment or been a no show at least once. And, you likely think you’re the only one. Breaking news: You’re most definitely not.
Here are the top 15 reasons why you should most definitely apologize to your trainer.
#1 Late Canceling
Most gyms and independent personal trainers (ones that don’t work for a commercial gym) have a cancellation policy. In most cases it is 24 hours, meaning that 24 hours before your appointment, you can cancel without penalty. If you cancel inside of 24 hours before your appointment, you either get charged for the session (you buy sessions in packages and the trainer gets paid for being there and you lose that session) or you pay some sort of a penalty fee.
Imagine if you got up at 4:30am to be at the gym, awake and energetic enough to push someone through a workout who was probably still rubbing the sleep out of their eyes and then you get a text at 5am while you’re on the way there saying something like “I was out last night, won’t be there today…sorry.” I mean, yeah, the trainer gets paid, but that’s a precious hour of sleep he or she could have had.
This is even worse than canceling late. Again, imagine if you were in your trainer’s shoes. You get to the gym at 5am for a 5:30 appointment and then no one shows up. Most gyms have a policy about this as well: 15 minutes late and you get charged and lose that session or pay a penalty of some sort. Another hour of sleep lost for the trainer.
#3 Frequently Asking To Change Appointments
This one is just plain old annoying. I had a client once when I was still a trainer, who put everything else before her workouts. She would always ask me to change the appointment an average of three or four times before the appointment occurred to when it was convenient for her.
Newsflash: Trainers have schedules too. Eventually, I got busy to a point where I could no longer accommodate my client’s requests to change, so I had no choice but to “fire” her as a client – and I had a clause in her contract that said sessions are non-refundable and nontransferable.
#4 Asking To Pay Later Than When Payment Is Due
Most trainers won’t even tolerate this and most commercial gyms have a policy that does not allow you to work out with the trainer if you haven’t paid for the session in advance.
Unless it’s a trial session, it creates uncertainty for the trainer that he or she will get paid for the session after you already agreed to pay for however many sessions you wanted. This can lead to a lot of pro bono work for trainers, which most can’t afford to do because they have families to feed.
#5 Smelling Bad
Yes, you’re in a gym and you’re bound to smell bad. But, you shouldn’t show up with your breath smelling like some wretched combo of amino acids (which reek) and coffee, in the clothes you ran a 5k in the day before and then didn’t do laundry.
With all of the bodily fluids and foul situations we have to put up with as trainers anyway, the last thing we want is to have to spend a solid hour within 10 feet of a person who smells like Bigfoot’s dirty diapers.
Come on people, have some hygiene.
#6 Not Doing Your Homework
If you work out with your trainer twice per week or less, if he or she is worth his or her salt, they will assign you homework. You know, things to do on days you don’t see them due to financial reasons or otherwise. I liked clients to work out four times per week and I gave clients a four-week plan in the form of a sheet that they kept and we used when they came in to work with me.
That sheet had everything written down for them to do on the days they didn’t see me. Without following the directions I laid out for them, I knew they wouldn’t achieve their goals in the time they wanted to achieve them in. Imagine how frustrating it is when you get angry then a trainer says: “Well, I told you what to do, how much weight to use, rest and everything else, and now you’re mad, but it was really on you.”
#7 Not Following Your Diet
This doesn’t include cheat days or the occasional indulgence, but, generally speaking, if you have an appearance or weight loss based goal, then diet is 90% of the battle. You can lift weights or run intervals and sprint all day until you’re blue in the face, but you can’t change a damn thing until you follow a diet.
That phrase “you are what you eat” is true. If you eat pizza and drink beer every day, you’ll have a beer belly and if you only eat donuts and drink coffee with cream, you’ll look like the stereotypical police officer.
#8 Complaining During Your Workout
Would you like some cheese with your w(h)ine? That was what I said to countless clients over the years who would whine and complain about a certain exercise or sequence of exercises I would have them do, until I instituted a three-strike rule (when I was working independently so I didn’t have a manager to answer to), meaning if you complained three times, your session was over and you forfeit whatever time wasn’t used.
#9 Disagreeing Over Exercise Choice
If a trainer is good, they’ll know to throw you a bone during your workout. Although biceps curls are useless to anyone except for elite bodybuilders (chin-ups are really the best biceps builder), we’ll throw those and a little triceps work in at the end of your workout if you ask.
However, if you think you know better than the trainer, it’s infuriating to us because we study this and do it day in and day out and how should you know better than we do? Some of us even go to school for years to study it and you read one thing and you think that makes you an expert when in reality 99% of the info you read on the ‘net from bogus short-lived sites is exactly that: Bogus.
#10 Not Working Out Over Vacation
Whether you or your trainer is on vacation, it doesn’t give either of you an excuse to skip workouts. A responsible trainer will give you things to do if you go away that won’t cut away from beach time. And if he or she goes away, you will be set up with someone to train you in the best case scenario, and left with workouts in hand in the worst case.
If you choose not to work out when you or your trainer is away, don’t be surprised if you don’t get to where you want to be when you expect to be there.
#11 Using Your Cell Phone During Sessions
Nothing irked me more when I was a trainer than when my clients would bring their cell phone to the session and text in between sets, or even stop mid-set to answer a call.
Unless you are expecting an important phone call (e.g. important news about a job interview, a teleconference with an unplanned time for a big deal from Europe, family member in the hospital in critical condition, etc.), bringing your cell phone to the session is completely inappropriate. Your session is when your trainer is totally focused on you, and you should be totally focused on the workout.
#12 Half-Assing Workouts – With Or Without Your Trainer
Maybe you used to be an actor or maybe you didn’t, but through our experience as gym rats ourselves, we trainers know when someone is quitting early or faking being out of breath. If you do eight reps when you know you can do 10, then don’t expect 100% results. Half effort equals half results.
In some cases, depending on the exercise or what you’re doing, whether it be the Big 3 (squat, bench press, and deadlift, in no particular order), mobility (foam rolling, basic mobility drills) or conditioning, half effort could result in no results at all, an injury or worse: Regression, the opposite of progress.
#13 Talking Too Much
Yes, trainers do tend to wear the therapist hat a little and will talk to you about the girl you went out with last night or the guy who basically bodychecked you into the street, sports, and whatnot, but there is such a thing as talking too much.
Your workout should be hard enough that you shouldn’t be able to talk mid-set, and if you can, then it’s too easy. Of course, this is partially the trainer’s responsibility to make you work a little harder. But, you should also pay attention to how hard you’re really working and if it’s too easy, then say something. We may know when you’re faking it, but we don’t know what’s going on inside your head.
#14 Not Being Honest During Consultation
I’m sure you’ve had a fitness assessment performed by a trainer at some point in time if you’re a member of a commercial gym, and I’m positive that the person doing the initial questionnaire whether in sales, a trainer him or herself, or just a general manager, has asked if you have an injury or condition we should know about. Even if it happened 30 years ago and it doesn’t bother you anymore, tell us about it.
Oftentimes, if you aren’t upfront about it, a trainer will have you do an exercise and won’t understand why you can’t do it or it hurts when you do it. So if you don’t tell us about it, you can’t blame us for aggravating an old injury.
#15 Check Your Ego At The Door
Bringing your ego into your workout is about the worst thing you can do. A good trainer will know just how hard to push you and when to scale it back. If the trainer says they’re taking some weight off so you can do an exercise right, be quiet and accept it.
Remember, this is about results; it isn’t a contest against the rest of the gym. Oftentimes, taking half the weight off the bar and doing a move with better mechanics will result in more gains in the long term, and will keep you injury and pain-free.
There you have it, the top 15 reasons why you should apologize to your trainer. There are many more things I can think of, but starting simple, correcting the bigger things about what may be bad habits in your workout will oftentimes lead to changes in the subtle things too. Remember, we’re the experts and we’re here to help you. You just have to work with us so we can get you to where you want to go the right way and give you results that will last.
By Michael Schletter, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D