Dear Big Commercial Gym Master Trainer,
I wanted to reach out to you to thank you for taking the time to work with my client last week while I was out of town. It was nice of you to let her use one of her complimentary sessions with you. I did have a few questions though, and was wondering if you would be so kind as to answer them.
I was curious about the assessment tools you utilized to “assess” my client, which was a bioimpedance analysis (BIA) handheld device and a scale. While the BIA handheld device is popular in gyms and in the distant past I’ll readily admit that I’ve used it as well, it’s unpredictability makes it essentially useless. It historically has a 3-4% margin of error, which can be impacted by anything from hydration levels, time of day, to the environment in the gym. It’s unrealiable.
And a scale? Really?
Knowing that there is no way for you to reliably determine body fat, the scale isn’t really going to be any more effective, is it? I mean you can’t determine how much of that is fat vs muscle, so no matter what you do, the only thing that my client is going to remember is that number. And regardless of what that number is, it’ll never be good enough. Don’t a ton of people, in particular women, already have an unhealthy relationship with their “number”. Do we really need to exacerbate that on the first date?
Throughout the workout, my client discussed that you did timed sets of conditioning for the whole session. Interval training and metabolic conditioning can be amazing tools for a trainer to use, but it was apparent that you were pursuing exhaustion, not fitness. I’m not sure about you, but having a client, or in this case a potential client, sucking wind for the entire hour isn’t exactly my idea of building up that client for success. In fact, it seems more likely that you used this method to make the client feel like they needed you. That by being out of breath, it is clear that this individual required your services. From what I was told, you actually told her that she was out of shape. Again, really? Who says that? Even if it was true, I would wager there’s not a ton of people that would respond well to that. It’s degrading.
This part is frustrating for me, as I see this nonsense plastered all over the industry and it drives me slightly crazy. Trainers and instructors making things hard just for the sake of the “workout” being tough, as opposed to things being tough because the program was well built and ended up challenging the client appropriately on varying levels, not just anaerobic or aerobic conditioning. The difference may seem slight, but it’s actually the difference between a real trainer and being a drone. A drone being someone that falls into the category of mindlessly doing what everyone else is doing. Drones don’t think about how each and every rep impacts one’s development and if that makes sense for this particular person. They just do stuff to make the client tired, so that it meets the perception of what fitness is "supposed" to feel like. It’s really easy to limit rest, use fast tempos, and work against time to create fatigue. Creating fatigue just for fatigue’s sake is embarrassingly naive.
At any point, instead of going through the “drill‘em and grill’em” routine, did you slow down? Maybe do some eccentric negatives to see how she moved? Could she control her body? Did you see the varus misalignment and correct it when necessary? Did you assess her movement as you pushed my client through conditioning sequence after conditioning sequence? Was her form perfect on every rep, even under fatigue? Did you catch the scoliosis? Or how her tight glutes and quads can sometimes limit her depth on squats or lunges?
I think that instead of focusing on what a first session is supposed to be, you tried to prove your worth by beating my client down. By telling her that she was somehow (inexplicably)18 pounds heavier than last year. Or that she needed to drop body fat based on an unreliable method of testing. Or that she was out of shape. A first session is supposed to be about gaining trust, and instead, you utilized negative reinforcement throughout this session in an attempt to create a codependent relationship. You tried to create need through negativity.
In fact, I believe you even mentioned to her that most people don’t last more than two sessions with you. If that is indeed the case, then I feel incredibly sorry for you because you are missing the entire purpose of why we do what we do. You seem to be more interested in satisfying your own ego. What we do is always, ALWAYS about the client. Everything we do is to build them up. We are the positive guiding light no matter how hard the struggle is for them.
I’m not sure if it was meant to be, but two days after I had this conversation with my client, I had a memory pop up on Facebook, and it was of my client, exactly one year ago, doing exactly the same exercise I had her doing 365 days later. Seeing how far she’s come in the past year, let alone from our start over two years ago was absolutely fantastic. You could see it all right there. Her face had completely trimmed down, her arms leaned out, midsection was tight, and her legs had developed considerably. Complete visual evidence that her whole body had completely changed and I was so proud of her. She’d be the first to tell you there’s more to accomplish, but sometimes you have to look back on those things and take pride in everything you achieved. She looked like a knockout and also fit into a size four gown for her trip to Paris next week. Baller.
Exercise principles are critical to training success, but the relationships we forge through fitness are always the foundation. I mean most of my clients attended my wedding reception. Several even flew to Italy to be at the actual wedding. Hugs are involved in almost every session. I spend more time with my fitness family than any of my friends or real family with the exception of my wife. When I was talking with my client about her experience with you, I was beyond upset. Why would someone willingly knock a person down that was clearly trying to improve themselves? I’m sorry to hear clients only last two sessions with you, but I completely understand why. You don’t get it.
Thank you for your time, but please don’t talk to my client ever again.