Professionalism and the Personal Trainer

After lifting this morning at my local gym [N.B. NOT a place I work at], I couldn’t help but write about professionalism.  As I went through my workout, a personal trainer was working with a client nearby.

While the client was doing biceps curls with crappy form and too much weight, his personal trainer checked text messages on his phone.  He didn’t correct his client’s form on that exercise, or the triceps presses at the cable column.  He looked around the room instead of concentrating on the client.  I didn’t see a clipboard, a list, or a workout plan.  This guy had been working at this gym for at least five years that I can remember.

This sort of behavior gives our profession a bad name.  The client isn’t paying us for an hour of our time; he or she is paying for the value we bring to that hour.  Put the electronic devices aside.  Look at your messages between clients.  Last winter, a potential client complained about her previous trainer: he was always looking at his phone while she did pushups, crunches or whatever.  I turned my pockets inside out.  “See any phones?” I asked.  Bada-bing, bada-boom: I gained a new client.

Professionalism means preparing the workout ahead of time.  Sure, one can add an exercise on the spur of the moment.  Based on what I notice in a client’s movement, I’ve added or changed up an exercise.  But an entire workout should never be improvised.  Nor should the trainer give the same cookie-cutter workout to every client.

Then there’s the actual workout.  As Mike Boyle says, it’s just as important to watch the workout as to write it.  Explain the rationale or benefit for each exercise.  Demonstrate technique and correct the client’s form if necessary.

Are you psyched up when your clients arrive?  Are you ready to empower and inspire them?  If you’re going, “Oh, it’s Jane Smith again,” it’s time to find a new career.

Joe DiFranco has more tips for spotting a bad trainer.

And here’s a gem on bad trainers from Christian Thibodeau.

Be there for your clients.  Do it more, do it better.  It’s what they deserve.