1. It doesn’t matter if you’re severely out of shape or overweight, we’re still going to be excited to help you.
The fact that you set foot in the gym to begin with is a great step in the right direction, and you really can’t judge a person for anything against them if they’re making active steps to change the course of their life. Some of my coworkers might seem intimidated with a challenging client, but more often than not, it’s the good kind of challenge — the one where we know we can help someone change their quality of life for the better.
2. That pretty boy whose body is his business card to get clients? Yeah, chances you won’t be able to look like that.
Not unless you take steroids, or work out three hours a day or (and this is if you’re very lucky) are genetically predisposed to build muscle and lean out like that. Some people are. Some aren’t. I’m not saying it’s not impressive that he looks like his body was carved out of marble, but basing your choice of a coach on how they look rather than the credentials they hold is not only misguided, but potentially dangerous.
(This goes double for following Jen Selter on Instagram in hopes of getting a butt like hers. Sorry.)
3. We see everything that goes on.
Up to and including: the person who never puts the weights away; the person posing for #gymselfies in the mirror more than they are working out; the person coasting through their reps; the person who thinks it’s more important to have more weight than proper form; the person who thinks they really need to break out the protein shake after 3-lb weights; the person who coasts on the same treadmill setting every day; the person working out for hours at a time; the person who’s hitting on someone else; the person who is devoted to cardio and absolutely nothing else; the person who dropped a lot of weight very quickly and is all but guaranteed to gain it back; and, of course, the people who come in again and again and are slowly making progress with their bodies.
4. If you have a question about a machine or a move and I don’t have a client with me, just ask.
Most of us would be more than thrilled to offer a little advice, not even for the sake of trying to pick up a new client, but because it’s better that you do something properly than risk major injury. Trust me. A herniated disc is not worth it.
5. It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you’re not eating right.
“We just worked out so hard, let’s go get fro-yo!” makes me cringe. It’s better to get a juice or a smoothie with protein and very few additives after your workout (so no, that Jamba Juice is not a good idea). You can undo untold hours’ worth of work with just one meal, and most of the changes you see in your body happen in the 23 hours you’re not spending in the gym, anyway. If you have to choose between spending more money on good-for-you food or a session with me, the food is honestly your better bet.
6. That said, most trainers are not actually qualified to give you nutrition advice.
A lot of trainers study a lot for their certifications and degrees, but unless you have a specified certification in nutrition science, recommending people just do what you do is a recipe for disaster. It’s much better to go to a registered dietician to help troubleshoot your diet — some doctors aren’t even qualified to talk about food — as your body’s needs are vastly different from the next person’s. I know it’s tempting to hash out “what have you been doing lately?” with anyone who will listen, but it’s ultimately not going to help you in the way you’re looking for it to.
7. You need to take rest days.
There is no extra credit involved for working out for hours a day, every single day. Even if you alternate muscles. Even if you feel fine. If you rest, you’re going to be able to recover stronger, so you can hit your next workout even stronger.
8. If I can find the the time to work out, you can find the time to work out.
Coaching other people through their workout and loading racks and weights for them is not a sufficient workout on its own (though with some clients, it feels like it). Depending on the day, I can see anywhere from five to 10 clients for hour-long sessions, and am often shuttling between locations for all of these sessions. Still, I need to work out too, and often find little pockets during the day to get a few reps in if I can’t dedicate a full chunk of time to myself. It adds up. And here’s the thing — I know you’re juggling work and your family and your kids and having a social life. But even if you have to wake up early or bribe yourself to go to the gym after work, it’s going to improve your quality of life by leaps and bounds. Seriously. Do it.
9. No one workout can guarantee the same results for EVERYONE.
Unless that result you’re looking for is burnout or injury — I’ve seen so many people who did the “advanced” version of a move when they were not ready and paid dearly for it. The reason why those overhaul programs work at first is because you’re shocking your body; of course it’s going to change if you go from never working out to doing plyo-yoga 6 days a week. Your body is going to change the way your body changes, and this includes how long it takes to start showing results.
10. You need to remember that at the end of the day, this is for you.
I can tell you how many reps to do, but if you half-ass them, you’re not only wasting my time, but your own. This is your body, your health, and your wellness you’re investing in. It’s absolutely worth the money (you only get one body in this lifetime and it sucks when it stops working) but there are absolutely trainers who will suck your money out of you if they know you’re not 100% committed. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.