Lessons I've Learned as a Personal Trainer

Just when I thought I had it figured out.

When you're young, you think you know it all.

Before I was a trainer, my friend asked if he could workout with me. He wanted to look "Godly." I was confident I knew what I was doing so I let him train with me. After that first session, he never asked me to train him again.

It's not that training wasn't for him or that I was a horrendous trainer. Rather, I just started him off with one of MY workouts - not a workout designed for him.

After the session he looked at me as if I told him Santa wasn't real (the image of his face is still burned in my memories).

The first lesson I learnt, was to meet the client where they're at, not where I want them to be. Taking the generic strength building or muscle inducing program and applying it to Joe-blow is going to leave them scared and demotivated from the gym. This might sound obvious, but surprisingly this happens more than you think.

This is also true for someone starting on their own gym journey. They get so excited about moving and feeling better, but they just don't know where to start. Sometimes they find out the hard way that ... lifting heavy things is hard.

The second thing I learnt - not everyone enjoys my style of training.

Look, I get it, doing 3 exercises over and over sounds boring BUT c'mon! You get to take large breaks in-between sets, you have permission to eat as much as you want, AND there is no cardio (that was a powerlifting joke...).

One session, I had my client doing Bulgarian Split Squats (because everyone loves Bulgarian Split Squats) and he looked physically distressed (like everyone that does Bulgarian Split Squats). I asked him what was wrong and he said his back was starting to ache and he didn't know if he could finish.

I was skeptical of his 'injury,' but I said "Okay, we can do some bicep curls to finish off the session." I've never seen someone 'heal' from back pain so quickly!

A trainer might believe his/her style is superior (like powerlifting is), but not everyone may want to train that particular style. Even if the Trainer does all the necessary research and selects the most optimal and efficient exercises, the client still may not want to have any part in it. Sometimes the reality is, you just have to pick that Insta-famous workout to get your client pumped.

If you would like to work on your chest, or legs, or back, then do it. Don't get caught up in what others say about how you should be lifting. Start off simple and progress from there.

Maybe in due time you'll come around to powerlifting ... the most superior of them all ;)

The last thing I learnt - not everyone is going to get results.

As a trainer, I believe with all my heart and soul that lifting weights and physical exertion will transform your body, make you healthier, and increase your strength. In fact, science says it will.

I can't describe a more disheartening experience than feeling like you've let someone down. That you've made them a promise to get them where they wanted to be and not see them reach their goal. You feel responsible for everything.

But remembering that working out and going to the gym isn't everything. It requires change across the board. Change needs to happen with diet, it needs to happen with sleep, with hydration, with stress, relationships, work, free time, hobbies, and so on. We are a product of our actions and those actions spill into multiple areas of our life.

I don't want to say "It's your fault, you should have done x, y, and z," because there is probably a good chance I didn't program the proper exercises, or volume, or frequency, or intensity. In reality, a proper understanding of living healthy needs to be established.

When you want to hop on the good feeling train, give yourself some leeway initially. Know fitness is a process. It requires time and commitment, but if you trust the process it will be worth it.

If you want to change, then it's time to nut up or shut up because your goals are going to take effort and discipline.

To summarize:

1. Start where you're at, not where someone else is at

2. Not every program is a one size fits all

3. You're not going to see results unless you make change across the board

Until next time my gym warriors,


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