Personal Training Client Handbook

Mannequin in Venice Beach

I’ve been sitting on this post for over a month but with 2010 around the corner, I thought it’d be appropriate to finally post this piece on being a good client when seeking the services of a personal trainer.  More likely than not, your New Year’s Resolution probably includes losing a certain amount of weight, exercising however much more, and eating food that is not ice cream and cookies (ps. warm ginger molasses cookie + vanilla bean ice cream = heaven).

You all know that I am not a big fan of personal trainers.  I have my own reasons but if you Google “personal training horror stories” you’ll understand why.  However, if you do opt to go with a personal trainer the relationship goes both ways.  Not only should the trainer be amazing, but so should the client.  Here are some guidelines:

  • Show up on time… and by on time, I mean at least 5 minutes early.  My time is your money.  If you’re paying me by the hour, why wouldn’t you want to make the most of every single second?
  • Show up ready to work… meaning, have your shoes on and tied if you’re opting to wear them for our session.  Have your water, towels, mats, and whatever else you’re planning on using ready and within reach.  If you’re running late, don’t take your precious time moseying on over to our workout location.

  • Yes, you will sweat… get over it.
  • No, I will not gossip with you for 37 minutes of our session.
  • Yes, you will be sore for the first few days if you are unconditioned, new, or coming back from a long lay off.
  • No, I will not let you use a lighter weight because you want to take it easy.
  • Yes, I will let you use a lighter weight if the weight you are using is legitimately too heavy for you.
  • Please stop whining… it’s annoying.
  • Yes your clothes will feel tighter… it’s called building muscle faster than burning fat.  You’ll hit a point where you can’t build much more muscle and the fat will start to diminish then your clothes won’t feel so tight.
  • No, you will not achieve your goals after one week of training.
  • Yes, you might gain a little bit of weight or not lose any weight at all.  Muscle weighs more than fat.
  • Please set realistic and measurable goals.  Looking like Cindy Crawford circa 1997 is not realistic nor is it measurable.  Losing 30 lbs in one month is measurable but not realistic.
  • Please stop smoking… it really hurts your performance when we train.  Plus, it makes you age really really bad… and your breath will smell and since you’re smoking you will most likely be heaving to catch your breath and probably are breathing extra hard in and around my vicinity which is just gross… and do you really want to die?!  (ps. my dad smoked for 20 years before he quit… my mom threatened to leave him if he didn’t so he did. love you pops!)
  • No, you will not achieve your goals after two weeks of training… unless your goal was to make it through two weeks of training.
  • Please get 8 hours of sleep every day… it helps you recover from our workouts.
  • Please drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
  • Please eat food that will fuel your body for our workouts… ps. vodka sodas and candy do not help fuel your body.
  • No, you will not achieve your goals after three weeks of training… STOP ASKING ME AFTER EVERY SESSION!  It takes time… give yourself 6 weeks minimum.
  • Please please please do your cardio on days that we do not train.
  • There are 168 hours in a week… I am accountable for 3 of those, what are you doing for the other 165?
  • No, I do not accept any form of payment other than cash.
  • No, there are no refunds.
  • If I do decide to grant you a refund, it’s because… well, let’s not go there.  Let’s just say good luck to the next trainer you work with.

All kidding aside folks, if you’ve ever trained with me, you know that my number goal is to educate and empower you.  I want to teach you as much as I can so that you won’t need me as a trainer forever.  I want to empower you to go out and be able to do it on your own and to help motivate others.  Even though the laundry list of complaints above may make me out to be an ass it is definitely not indicative of me as a trainer… in fact, I think I care about my clients too much!  I’ll do whatever I can to help you but your health and fitness is not about me… it’s about you!  So you need to empower yourself, educate yourself, and you need to want to achieve your goals.  As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

You might be asking yourself, what does my picture of the mannequin have to do with any of this.  Well, posts are always better with pictures so I had to throw something in but I found it to be pretty pertinent when it comes to how everyone wants the quick fix to health and beauty.  Wanting… no, demanding results only after 3 sessions and wanting to give up after 6 sessions.  Really?  Child please.

Now, with that out of the way, back to my ginger molasses cookie + vanilla bean ice cream…

show hide 2 comments

Mog - Quoc used to train me back in 06/07. I got a trainer because I got a cash Xmas gift and because I knew I had no motivation. I think Quoc is right…

Be positive: Being ready and willing to work out – without too much whining – at the appointed time helps both client and trainer.

Be realistic: Above all, get over your false health beliefs! Studies show that if people have realistic goals of losing 10 pounds in 6 months (half a pound a week x 20 weeks, with a couple extra weeks just in case) then they stay motivated longer…

Angela C. - Love this post! (It made me google personal trainer horror stories, btw.)

I’d like to add-
* Be honest. Your personal trainer knows you didn’t have the best habits in the world, or you wouldn’t want coaching from a professional. Answering your trainer’s questions honestly allows her/him to better equip you to reach your goals!

Happy New Year! (Hauoli Makahiki Hou!)

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