I love this because I’ve been a trainer. After appearing on NBC’s The Biggest Loser as a contestant on Season 4, I spent three years building a personal training business and worked with over 60 clients of varying weights, body shapes, experiences, levels of understanding, etc. I can’t tell you how many of these thoughts and conversations I’ve had over and over and over again with my previous clients.
But here’s the thing: I’ve also been a client — and often times a challenging client at that (ask my coaches, past and present!). And there are some things a LOT of trainers do NOT understand about clients that are probably as important as the things that WE do not understand about them.
So if you are a trainer — ESPECIALLY one who may not have struggled with your weight — here are some things that might come in handy:
1. Just stop telling me you get it.
The short answer is no. No, you don’t. Maybe you’ve lost a lot of weight yourself (when I was a trainer, I had lost 113 lbs in 8 months — no easy feat!), or maybe you’ve never had to worry about putting weight on. Whatever. The reality of it is, is you. Do. Not. Know. What. It’s. Like. Your clients are all different — different body types, different tolerances, different backgrounds, different personal lives. What might be easy for one of your clients to do (say, exercising 45 minutes a day, every day), might be a near impossible goal for a single mother of two who works full time and just barely manages to squeeze in three sessions a week. Understand that your clients’ circumstances go far beyond what you see in the gym. That doesn’t mean we don’t want or hear your advice. It just means sometimes it’s not always “follow-able.” And a good trainer (like ones I’ve had) know how to adjust their input to make it work for each individual’s overall life.
2. Just stop talking about how I should eat perfectly, and start talking about how to eat realistically.
Every single trainer I’ve ever had kill me in the gym, I’ve also seen eat pizza, drink beer, or have birthday cake. Stop acting like you don’t. Because the reality of it is this: as a trainer, you become our “gym parents,” and this bizarre phenomenon happens — your habits become the expectation of what our habits should be. If we see you occasionally indulging and not harping on yourself regularly for making little decisions that — let’s be honest — won’t make or break our training, THAT is what instills GOOD habits in your clients.
It’s been proven over and over and over and over again that diets that promote deprivation or the abolishing of certain foods work temporarily and ultimately boomerang to bite clients in the you-know-what. Most of your clients who have long term struggles with weight have long-term emotionally unhealthy habits with food. If we feel like we’re constantly disappointing you by eating birthday cake, because it’s something you would “never” do, or something you would “never” suggest, we will fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but ultimately.