Trainer-Client Relationships

Posted on 06. Jan, 2009 by in Fitness

I don’t write much about the inner workings of personal training anymore. In fact, I don’t like to write about trainers and clients if I can avoid it. I think it is important, however, to talk about some things that I feel are significant to know about trainers and clients…especially when there are many people out that may be working with a trainer for the first time this year.

Good Trainers or Coaches are harder to find than you might think!

This blog isn’t going to be about how bad trainers are and 10 things to look for in a trainer…the internet is filled with those types of articles. The point I want to make here is that although there are more bad trainers than good ones, it is actually very hard to find good trainers these days. For one, the really good trainers can be difficult to schedule with. Most of these people are booked up. I started a waiting list during the busy part of my day for people that want to train with me, and so far it hasn’t moved. That’s good for me, but not so good for people that want and need to train with me.

In addition, many of the “good trainers” are actually leaving the floor these days and moving to management, or ownership and don’t really “train” anymore.

When you find a good trainer, do whatever you can to keep him or her. Do not assume that you can take a “leave of absence” and still have your trainer when you decide to come back. Also, don’t always assume that the grass is greener either. I know people that have switched trainers looking for “something” new and better, only to realize that their new situation is not better at all, and actually much worse. If you find someone that meets your needs and you trust him or her, keep that relationship going!

Expect to Pay and don’t expect discounts

When you find that good trainer, expect to pay for the quality that you are receiving. Remember, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect major discounts either. Please remember that trainers are working for a living, just as other professionals are. In addition, most trainers get half or even less than half of what you are actually paying. The other part of that money goes to the “house” or the owner of the gym. If you get a discount, chances are, your trainer is taking home less too. The old notion that buying sessions in bulk should deserve a discount is outdated too. Would you expect to get a discount from your doctor just because you go to him or her a lot?

Good Clients are hard to find too

Just like finding a good trainer is tough, it is very hard to find good clients too. What is a bad client? Bad clients can be difficult to spot right away, but after a session or two, the trainer usually knows who these people are. First off, bad clients do not keep their commitments to training. Whether it is missing sessions, not staying on their plan or simply refusing to do what the trainer asks of them. Some of these people have a tough time trusting the trainer or coach too. They will fight everything the trainer asks them to do and worse, try to direct the trainer to what he or she should be doing. The internet is partially responsible for this. Many clients become “internet experts” and try to challenge the trainer’s methods at every turn because of something they read online. Good trainers have enough experience and education to know what is best for the client without being questioned at every turn. Questions are OK and good. “Questioning” the trainer on his or her methods is not. It would be no different then the trainer coming into someone else’s workspace and telling them how to do their job. Also remember that good trainers are busy enough to pick and choose just who they want to work with. If you are not being a good client, they can and will fire you.

Trainer “Shopping”

Another aspect that occurs in the training world is clients that “trainer shop,” as I like to call it. What this means is that some clients are always looking for the next best thing. They are constantly shopping different trainers and different programs. These people will hop from trainer to trainer, never really staying with one person consistently. I have no problem with switching trainers if you are not happy or just don’t think things are working for you. That happens. The problem occurs when people just don’t give the training plan a chance, and usually these people are not doing what is required on their end with their diet and commitment. What I have found is that the people who tend to do this are those “bad clients” who are really looking for a trainer that they can control and do what they want, rather then do what is necessary to achieve their goals.

Looks don’t mean anything!

If you are shopping for a good trainer, remember to take your time and do your research. Don’t assume that just because a trainer looks “great” it means they know what they are doing. This is another trap that I see people walk into. People assume that because their trainer is ripped, and looks like a perfect physical specimen that they know what they are doing. It doesn’t mean that they are not good trainers either. The point is not to judge based on looks either way. If a trainer is trying to sell themselves to you on their own personal achievements instead of what they can do for you, steer clear. I could care less how much my trainer benches or how they look in tight clothes.

Bottom line:

  • Before you hire a trainer, do your homework, and take your time.
  • When you start with a trainer, make a solid commitment. The better client you are, the more you will get out of your sessions.
  • Expect to pay for quality training. Cheap trainers usually result in bad results. You get what you pay for.
  • When you find someone that you trust and is a good fit, do what ever you can to keep them. Even if you cannot afford to keep training on a consistent basis, schedule a session or two every couple of weeks. Never sever that relationship.
  • Remember, even good trainers and good clients don’t always fit. Sometimes personalities just clash. Don’t be afraid to recognize this fact and move on if things just are not working.
  • Trainers should not be afraid to “fire” clients if necessary too. Bad clients are not worth the money because the headaches that these people give you overshadow any money you are making from them. I have “fired” more than my share of clients over the years and when I did, it was the best move I could have ever made. Sometimes, clients will even “fire” themselves if they know you are not going to deal with their constant “Crap.”

4 Responses to “Trainer-Client Relationships”

  1. Super-Trainer

    07. Jan, 2009

    Yeah you’re on point with a lot of this info, Keith – particularly what you said about being willing to pay for quality training – From a trainer’s perspective, the good ones do take the time to plan the session and the programs – And with someone like you with an extensive athletic training background, it’s hard to put a price on this type of expertise and personal attention- If you think about it what we charge is actually a bargain -

  2. Keith Scott

    08. Jan, 2009

    Thanks. Glad you liked the blog.

    People have no idea really how much planning it takes sometimes. A lot of people just think you wing it as you go and there is no planning involved.

  3. Tim James

    08. Feb, 2009

    Thanks for well put article Keith. I found you via Craig’s twitter and I seem to train a lot of people post injury that stay with me because they get full mobility back.

    Who are your mentors?


  4. Keith Scott

    09. Feb, 2009


    Most of my mentors are college and graduate school profs. I have been doing this for a long time now and when I hit the work force the internet was just getting started. With that said, I learn from a lot of people each day.

    Guys like Cosgrove (Fat loss), Jay Ferruggia (strength, and muscle building) and others.

    Thanks for the comments

Leave a Reply

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Site Software