One of the most fascinating things about exercise is that you get a plethora of different views from people/clients related to what they think it is. From my observations I have found that many trainers believe that exercise is about well...just that...exercise and getting people in shape. Well, I'm here to tell you that that couldn't be further from the truth. I honestly don't believe that personal training is really about exercise completely.
Let me explain further. Have you ever had a client that has stayed with you for years and you wonder why they continue to do that? Those of you who have had trainers, why do you continue to stay with a trainer for all of those years? How about when you take a class for years? I mean let's face it. Many of us can put together proper exercise sequences filled with push/pull, upper/lower, split routines, periodization, etc. And while I am a proponent of using many of those methods/sequences for exercises, I always find that in the end these things drift away and become highly secondary in the training experience.
What is number one? Simply the connection between people. The energy, the laughter, the hugs, the high fives, the difficult moments of doubt, the joys of consistency and the letters of appreciation for sticking by that person. That is what training is about. I mean do we exercise in our sessions? Hell yes! Of course we do because clients want to achieve physical goals, but I tell you I have never had a client stay with me because they just love my exercises.
How do I know that? I ask my clients how they feel about what we do each time we meet for our training experience. Yup, I don't wait to ask at special times or occassions. I just ask them, "How do you feel about me working with you? Is the training experience enjoyable? Why do you continue to train with me? I ask more questions of course, but I will tell you what each of them say.
They say this is about my heart and my mind. They say I love how we laugh and joke while still working hard. I enjoy when you tell me how much you care about me and my goals.They say, I structure my meetings around these sessions because I love the way this experience makes me feel. They mostly tell me things that honestly don't have a lot to do with "working out." So, what does this mean? I believe it means that people are being people. They want a connection with another person on an appropriate level. They want to know that you are invested into their heart as much as you're invested into their body. Hell, I beleive that for many people training is more of social and emotional experience than it is an exercise experience.
Case in point, my client this morning asked me while we were doing step ups, "Darian, what makes a trainer a bad trainer?" I told her straight up..."A bad trainer is one who is desperate for your money, eager to talk about themselves and only focused on your physical progress." My client thought for a second and nodded in agreement. She said, "my past trainers never cared about me. They seemed to give me impossible things to do and they just didn't seem interested in learning about me."
Don't we all just want someone to care about us? Again, it can't just be about exercise! I can't just be about the latest and greatest class or piece of equipment. It can't be about knowing the origin and insertion of each muscle or spouting off about how much you think you know about training. And it can never be about the power you have over another person in telling them what to do. It is about the power of love and respect for others as they make the journey to improve all aspects of themselves. As a trainer you can serve as a tremendous vehicle for change in others and in the process you will see the change in yourself.
Ask yourself this, "Why isn't your training business as successful as it should be?" Do you really care about your clients or do you really care about getting paid? Money is a byproduct of both the psychological and physiological investment you make into your clients. Without that you are just going through the motions with your clients and I promise you they will see right through that.
I'll end it off with this. When I hear other people talking about trainers they love they always make comments that have to do with everything, but training. When people tell me about Dr. Michael Norwood they say he is such a great man. When they tell me about Charles Ware they say Charles is so funny and he has a great heart. When clients at Club Ridges tell me they like Cole Orgill they say Cole is funny and charismastic. We have a good time. When I hear people talk about Troy Meier they say Troy is a stand up guy and an honest person. Listen, I meet so many people each month because of this wonderful thing called Connect to Fitness. I hear about so many people and what they do as trainers. Nothing makes me happier when I get feedback about trainers like the one's I mentioned. I could care less if you are the smartest trainer or have the most advanced exercises. And listen, I have my PhD, but it means nothing if I don't care about the people I work with.
My hope is that when people/clients talk about me as trainer that they tell me that their experience training with me brought them joy, laughter and for one hour an escape from everything that was bothering them. I hope they say that I truly care about them because I so very much do. That's what counts...
Until next time...