Being a personal trainer is a dream job for many people. One of the top perks of the job is the opportunity to change people’s lives and watching positive transformations occur daily. But, there are downsides to every job—and personal trainers are no different.
Here are the top ten pet peeves of personal trainers.
#1 – Excuses
If there’s one thing you could banish from your client’s mindset, it would be excuses. Every personal trainer has a list of the worst excuses they’ve ever heard. It seems odd that people would pay you to motivate them, only to make excuses to not be motivated, doesn’t it? Yet it happens all the time!
Clients who come in with excuses usually tap out early. It feels like a waste of your time and theirs. It would be nice if clients came mentally prepared to make a long-term lifestyle change and not just use your services for a temporary fix. Find a way to boost their spirits by helping them set SMART goals and establishing incentives for reaching a goal.
#2 – Not Disclosing Health Issues
This is a big one. It’s not only dangerous for the client, but it can put you in a bad situation if your client’s health is adversely impacted by your workout. For example, if you have a client who has a bad back, you could structure his exercises properly so his back isn’t injured any further. If that client doesn’t disclose his back issue, you could mistakenly direct him to perform an exercise that could aggravate his spine—putting you on the hook to pay for his medical costs and even lost wages if he can’t work.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to have every client fill out a health disclosure form and to monitor them for any issues that may develop during your training sessions. It’s also a good idea to have personal trainer insurance in case you get hit with a liability claim. Insurance helps to protect your business’s finances and keep you from paying for costly claims out of your own pocket.
#3 – Friends or Acquaintances Wanting Free Workouts or Health Advice
You’re paid to develop exercise routines and create meal plans. So, it isn’t fair when friends or family expect you to assist them for free. Or even worse, when new acquaintances hit you up for pro bono advice during a social situation. After all, how do they expect you to make a living if you give everything away?
A good way to counteract these requests is to have a prepared statement on hand, such as, “That’s a great question! Why don’t you sign up for a consultation with me and if you decide you’d like to train with me, we can discuss payment terms then.” This will help you avoid discussing business during your off-hours, and it will give the person notice that you’re a professional who expects payment for your services.
#4 – Is This the Fat Burning Zone or the Love Zone?
You spend hours at the gym, either with your clients or with other personal trainers. Sparks fly and soon, there’s a love entanglement. Sometimes this is a perk and sometimes it’s not. Keeping your professional life separate from your personal life can be difficult. However, wouldn’t you say that clients who sign up just to make a love connection is a major pet peeve and a distraction?
Try your best to stay accountable and have another personal trainer you can confide in if you need it. The best thing to do is be upfront with a client seeking a connection. Kindly let them know you are not interested in having a relationship with a client.
#5 – Lying About Their Diet
When a client tells you they’ve been faithful on their diet and they’ve attended all of their training sessions and still haven’t lost weight, you know something’s up. The scale doesn’t lie. But when a client is trying to fool you, they’re just fooling themselves, and the proof is in the pudding.
Encourage clients to keep a food journal where they write down, photograph, or electronically log what they are eating each day. You can recommend healthier alternatives to their meals, suggest weight loss supplements, or check in weekly to see how they are doing.
#6 – Wanting Instant Results After Years of an Unhealthy Lifestyle
You’re a personal trainer, not a magician. You can’t wave a magic wand and make years of unhealthy decisions suddenly go away by forcing a body to transform overnight. One of the most difficult parts of a personal trainer’s job is managing client expectations.
You know that healthy weight loss and healthy transformations take time. But in today’s instant satisfaction world, clients want to see visible results right away. And when some clients take things to the extreme, such as going on very low calorie diets, it makes you want to scream. To help keep your cool, set realistic goals with them and let them know what they can expect while training with you.
#7 – No-Shows, Last Minute Cancellations, or Last Minute Scheduling
You have other clients and your own personal life, but clients don’t always respect your schedule. It can be frustrating when a client pulls a no-show or cancels at the last minute. Another problem that can occur is when a client calls and wants an immediate appointment and is upset when you aren’t available.
To counteract some of these issues, it might be a good idea to have a 24 hour no-show or cancellation policy in place. That way you don’t lose out on time or money. You could also charge a premium for clients who want to see you outside of your normal operating hours.
#8 – Late Payments (Show Me the Money!)
Unless you have a contract through a gym, most personal trainers are self-employed. This means you probably carry your entire overhead expenses, including gym costs, equipment maintenance, personal trainer insurance, and more. Plus, there’s those little things like eating and having a roof over your head that are sort of important too. So when a client is late on their payment or their check bounces, it’s a big deal.
If you have clients who regularly pay late or skip payments, you may want to offer warnings before dropping them from your client list and pursue better clients.
#9 – Your Client Is a Chatty Cathy
You know this type. You aren’t just their personal trainer, you’ve somehow become their therapist, best friend, financial planner, and closest confidant. While most clients will indulge in a little bit of personal chit-chat, a Chatty Cathy would prefer to have a conversation than to work out.
Chatty clients are annoying because it’s hard for you to focus and to get them focused on the exercises. Plus, they often take longer to finish their workouts, and that has the potential to make you late for your next appointment. Nicely talk with your client about your expectations during a workout, or suggest playing some music to help the two of you get in the zone.
#10 – The Expectation That You’re Perfect
Even the most determined personal trainer needs a cheat meal. So when a client gives you the stink-eye after catching you at a local fast-food joint, it can be a little annoying—especially when you’re wondering what they’re doing there.
Along the same lines, it can be a downer when your friends are food-shy around you because they know what you do for a living. It’s not as if you’re going to judge everybody for having that cream-filled éclair or slice of birthday cake at a party. Let your clients know ahead of time no one is perfect, including you, and it’s okay to not be 100% healthy all of the time. As for your friends, have healthy discussions about food. When you have those cravings for something sweet, try inviting them to join you so they can see you love cake too.
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While you might not be able to control every personal training pet peeve, you can control your risk management. If you ever get stuck with a client who doesn’t disclose their health history, or you have a mishap during a training session, personal trainer insurance could protect you. You can even get a free quote in the same amount of time it took you to read this article!
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Note: All insurance policies have conditions, limitations, and exclusions, please refer to the policy for exact coverages.