If there’s one BIG thing I’ve learned over the last 7 years of being a personal trainer it’s this…
To not put my own expectations onto clients.
Back when I started personal training I wanted all of my clients to have 6 packs and lean/athletic physiques!
When I started in the PT industry, I was training like a bodybuilder, I could afford to spend 1-2 hours in the gym each day, and had the discipline and desire to live off chicken and broccoli 4x per day in order to have a 6 pack! Lol!
I expected clients to be the same as me, 100% committed. I had zero experience of working with everyday people and just assumed that if I designed each client a training and meal plan like mine…
Then they would get amazing results and be happy.
Lol. How wrong was I???
I would get frustrated when a client wouldn’t follow the plan which I had spent hours creating for them. I would take it very personally when clients didn’t get the results I had hoped they would achieve.
When a mum or dad that I trained would say things to me like… “I haven’t been to the gym this week because my babies not been sleeping” – I would think to myself… this is just an excuse! It’s not been until recently, and becoming a father myself, that I now totally understand the challenges (and sleepless nights!) parents face.
Like I said… I had zero awareness and thought everybody should be just like me: committed, determined and walking around with a lean, athletic body!
I’m not afraid to admit…
I was totally wrong.
I was pushing my own beliefs of what I thought was right onto other people, and it’s something I see lots of personal trainers doing to their clients.
Over the last 7 years, having completed over 10,000 x 1-1 coaching session I’ve learned lots of very valuable lessons, and one of the most important is to accept each individual for who they are and to not to push my own beliefs or expectations onto them…
Different Types Of Clients…
I’ve worked with hundreds of people and have come to know 4 main types of client over the years, which are…
Client Type 1 – People who are 100% commit and achieve an unbelievable transformation. They literally totally transform, losing 2+ stone, getting lean, and becoming a total gym junkie!
Client Type 2 – Those who think it’s going to take them 3-6 months, but it ends up taking longer 1-2 years. They’re committed but it takes time for them to adjust and there are hiccups along the way, which they learn from and then they eventually get to their goals over a longer time frame.
Client Type 3 – People who start with a goal i.e. lose 2 stone, but don’t make it. They expected it to be easier, but couldn’t make the necessary mental and physical changes to achieve their goal. They wanted to lose weight but weren’t prepared or couldn’t do what was necessary i.e. eat less and go to the gym – therefore no results are achieved. For these type of people It may just not be the right time for them, or it could be that they need more help than what a personal trainer can provide i.e. counsellor or psychologist.
Client Type 4 – Then there are those who are just happy to train each week, and workout. They’re not bothered about having a 6 pack, or dieting or following a meal plan, they like to just stay active and have a personal trainer push/support them.
None of the above client types are any better or worse than one another, they’re just different.
My mistake in the early days of being a PT was that I expected every client to be ‘Client Type 1’ – 100% committed – and if they didn’t fit into this category then I would try to get them there. If they didn’t make it… I would get frustrated or blame myself for not being able to turn people into committed results driven people…
If a client didn’t get an amazing ‘before’ and ‘after’ pic then I had failed as a coach. It was my own ego causing problems! I saw the results with each client as a reflection of me! I wanted everybody that I worked with to be lean and athletic just like me, and if they didn’t achieve those results… like I said… In my head I had failed!
My mode of thinking was totally wrong, but it’s what I see a lot of personal trainers out there doing. They are pushing their own expectations onto clients, rather than seeing them as individuals and accepting that not everybody loves the gym or wants to be a bodybuilder like them! lol!
Coaches Need To Ditch Their Own Ego…
I think as a coach (unless you’re an elite sports coach or bodybuilding coach) it’s your job to realise that not everybody is going to get an amazing before and after transformation, and that you shouldn’t push it upon anybody to do so.
There are lots of coaches out there who run 90 day programmes and get incredible results with their clients, however it can be at the expense of their clients health.
These type of coaches can pressure their clients to get results, not to help the client, but to boost their own reputation and business. They’re more bothered about the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics and their reputation, instead of their clients true physical and mental well-being.
Their ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics are incredible, the client looks healthy, lean, fit, athletic, but the pictures can also be deceiving and at times fail to paint the whole picture…
Let me tell you this…
Having a 6 pack or lean, slim body does not make you happy. Most personal trainers can vouch for this, at some point most of ‘us coaches’ have all been super lean (10% body fat or less) and looked amazing. But as anybody who’s been this lean will tell you… it doesn’t necessarily make you happy. In fact being lean comes at a cost a lot of the time…
- Isolating – missing out on meals out with your friends and family so that you can eat chicken and broccoli out of your Tupperware box.
- Food Cravings – eating so fewer calories that every other thought is about food. This can become very healthy and can also lead to eating disorders
- Insecurity – despite how good you look, there’s always somebody out there who looks better. Despite looking good, it does not make you confident, in many cases it makes you the opposite and more insecure.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics and they can in many cases be positive and life changing transformations. But if your coach is forcing you to stick to a bland meal plan, making you feel guilty for not making progress at the speed they demand – then that’s not acceptable in my book and it’s important to ask the question…
Is my coach wanting me to get results for me? or to boost their own ego and reputation?
Like i said earlier not everybody is cut out for an intensive 12 week transformation. Most of the time it takes much longer. Do not rush the process unless you feel comfortable and are aware of the sacrifices.
The quicker you want results the more extreme you’re going to have to go. Whilst your body may transform it can cause issues in other areas of your life e.g. relationships with people and food, mental and physical suffering, etc.
There’s much more to a transformation than a ‘before’ and ‘after’ pic…
Other Ways To Measure Results…
Whilst it’s awesome when a client achieves and amazing ‘before’ and ‘after’ – I personally now take far more pride in the following…
Empowering People – supporting people and giving them the confidence to realise that they can achieve their goals. Pushing people past their boundaries so that they realise how capable they truly are.
Building Relationships – with every client I work with I want to help them. I can only help them if I get to know them and invest quality time into not only their training/nutritional programmes, but invest time into them as an individual. I genuinely care about everybody that I work with.
Providing A High Level Of Service – every time a client walks through the door I want to try and provide as much value as possible. I want to teach, support, motivate and I want it to be a pleasurable experience (although psychically uncomfortable lol!). I want the gym to be clean, tidy and smell fresh. I want each client to leave feeling better than when they arrived.
Helping People To Grow – the most rewarding thing for me is seeing people’s confidence blossom. The client who started with you who had zero confidence, but who now after 3 months… has the confidence to walk into a gym and train by themselves.
Positive Encouragement – everybody that walks into my PT studio gets a pat on the back from me (metaphorically speaking), they are investing time and money to come and train with me, and they are with me to improve, whether that’s to lose weight, build muscle, or just to move more. Everybody that I work with is on their own individual mission and working towards the goals that are important to them. That in itself is frickin incredible.
If they achieve an amazing ‘before’ and ‘after’ then great, but if not, as long as they leave feeling happier, healthier and having had a good return on their investment then that in itself is a success.
There’s nothing wrong with going extreme, BUT make-sure that you know what you are letting yourself in for, and DO NOT let your PT pressure you into leading an unsustainable life – just to massage their ego by getting a ‘before’ and ‘after’ pic for their website and social media – but leaving you in a mental and physical mess!
Go at the pace you feel comfortable. As long as you are happy with the rate of progress then you’re doing a great job.
Thanks for reading,