What you DON’T want in a personal trainer

Here’s a little story for anyone out there thinking of hiring a personal trainer….

Earlier today, I was meeting with a potential new client.

For the last six months, she had been working out on her own and was less than pleased with the results. Previous to that, she had worked with a personal trainer for four months.

She was even less pleased with that experience.

Here’s why:

  • Over the four months, she spent $4800 ($100 per session x 3 sessions per week x 16 weeks)
  • Her weight yo-yo’d during this experience – eventually settling at 11 lbs lost
  • Her initial goal was 40 lbs

When her initial personal training package expired (48 sessions), she was asked to renew for another 48 sessions at the same rate.

At this time, she expressed her concerns about her lack of progress. She thought she should have lost more weight and was hesitant to renew based upon her results after 16 weeks.

This is what her trainer said:

  • He was also disappointed with her results
  • He was surprised that she didn’t do better, because all of his clients that follow his program achieve their goals.
  • The clients that don’t achieve their goals are unsuccessful because they don’t follow his program.
  • They cheat on their diet or they don’t do their self-directed cardio sessions.

and here’s my favorite…

  • He’s only with her 3 hours per week. That leaves 165 hours (24 x 7 – 3) in the week for her to sabotage his plan.
  • His responsibility is to design & deliver the program.
  • Her responsibility is to follow his direction.

And, you know what, he’s right.

He can’t follow her around and make sure she doesn’t follow the prescribed diet or do her “self-directed” cardio sessions.

But, for $4800, doesn’t she deserve more than a training program and 48 hours of counting reps and stretching her hamstrings?

(BTW, I saw the program, and I was unimpressed to say the least)

This is what she should have got for $4800

  • They should have spent time during every session discussion discussing what happened to her in between sessions.
  • He should have known if she was having trouble sticking to the plan
  • They should have discussed motivational techniques
  • He should have asked questions to find her triggers for poor eating.
  • He should have taught her how to look inside herself and identify the thoughts and emotions attached to her poor eating habits
  • He should have known she wasn’t doing as well as she should have
  • He should have worked harder to find the buttons that needed pushing
  • For $4800, he should have mustered up some personal & professional pride and made change happen.


But enough about her ex-trainer douche-bag. Here’s what happened during our meeting


After some initial pleasantries, we go down to the question & answer period of our meeting. I asked her all of the questions that I typically ask potential clients.

And after 30 minutes or so, I was pretty sure that her eating problems are tied up in her emotions.

We talked about her life. We talked about her eating patterns. We talked about some of the tricks I have picked up through the years. I watched her get agitated while talking about certain topics. I watched her body relax and her mood lift when she talked about her kids. When we talked about her friend’s weight loss success (a former client of mine), I could see the combination of hope and doubt in her eyes.

And this is just the beginning.

I barely know the woman.

Hopefully that changes. Hopefully, she gives me the chance to help her make her life a little bit better.

And yes, I know this sounds all new-agey and sensitive.

But, if I want her to achieve lasting results and not just a short term (Biggest Loser) change, we’ve got to identify the emotions behind the obesity. When we do that, the workout & nutrition plan will work as advertised.