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What Your Personal Trainer Can't Fix
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Photo by Pamela Hernandez

At IDEA World 2014 BlogFest, Jillian Michaels made a statement in her almost hour long Q&A with us that spoke directly to my heart. Someone asked her what do you do with the client who just won’t do what you ask. The one who professes a heart felt desire to get fit but won’t do their exercise homework or keep a food journal? The audience member asked how do you, as personal trainer, overcome that?

Her answer?

You don’t.

She went on to say that most fitness professionals on some level have to be co-dependent. While I am sure she meant this in jest, she got close to my truth when she explained her lifelong need to “fix people” in both her personal and professional life.

Most of us get into this business (hopefully) because we have a passion for health and for fitness. We feel COMPELLED to share what we know, to help every unfit body that is reaching out for something better. We are good at what we do when we care and connect on a personal level. Sometimes that makes it hard to leave the emotional part of the job at the gym when the day is done. Sometimes that means we take the clients’ frustration and make it our own.

This is why I sometimes feel like a failure. I can’t “fix” everything and I take it personally. I don’t question the principles I hold dear. The 4 Keys to Real Fitness are solid. When this happens, I question my coaching skills and my ability to fix the problem the client has come to me to solve. Each time a client doesn’t “pick up what I am putting down” I feel like I am failing.

What I need to remember in these times is her explanation of why I can’t help them overcome. It’s because they aren’t ready to hear what I have to say. I can have the best plan. I can break it down into the small and manageable pieces. I can assign homework, send workout text reminders and email food tips after reviewing a food journal. None of it works if the client isn’t ready to make real changes. And that is OKAY.

What Your Personal Trainer Can't Fix
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Photo by Pamela Hernandez

I need to focus on the things they are achieving. I need to HEAR the positive things that they are saying.

  • I feel so much better after this workout.
  • I opened the jar without my husband’s help.
  • I did a one mile fun run with my granddaughter.
  • The doctor says whatever I have been doing KEEP DOING IT.

I too forget that success does not always lie in the end result. I have lapses where I forget to enjoy the process. I too get so caught up in THAT NUMBER I forget that getting a good workout may be the client’s only goal for today. I need to remember that everyone on this journey moves at a different pace. I forget how many rookie fitness mistakes I made in the beginning and how slowly my journey began.

Luckily, along with my need to fix people I also have a great amount of stubbornness. I don’t mind saying the same thing over and over again. I don’t have a problem preaching the basics each and every day because I know one day YOU will be ready. I know WE will get there. I know failure is nothing to actually be ashamed of. It just means we are trying. As long as we are trying…

Failure is Impossible.

– Susan B. Anthony

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