“Any endeavor has unintended consequences. Any ill-conceived endeavor has more.”
— Stephen Tobolowsky, The Dangerous Animals Club
No one wants things to go wrong, but sometimes life can swing that way. We often put this out of our minds by saying some version of: “this won’t happen to me;” what psychologists call an optimism bias. This can be a good habit when it comes to keeping a positive attitude, but a bad habit when it comes to preparing for the variables of life.
While blind spots are, by definition, things we do not understand; we can beckon what we do not understand better into focus when we care enough to look for it. A lot of these may not seem like blind spots, and may seem like common sense, but we all can be guilty of these “trainer sins” every now and then.
Here’s a short list of some stuff you should never get wrong:
1. Arriving late – Aside from reasonable delays you should never be late. If you find yourself running late, use the Helf Messenger to communicate that to your client. Arriving late is the easiest way to get a bad review and negatively affect the way future potential clients view you.
2. Being distant/cold – Your client doesn’t have to be happy to be there, but you do. Why? Because it’s your job. That’s not to say that you will be happy to go to work everyday. Yes, we’re all human, but you also have a pretty amazing job. Life not going so well? Your clients are your time away from that stress, and you owe it to your clients to be present.
3. Pushing your client too hard (or too lightly) – We all can bark orders and tell someone else what to do. The real question is what does the individual you are training really need? Training all of your clients at the same intensity shows a laziness and an ego to your training style. Invest into your clients by personalizing their experience and they’ll invest back into you.
4. Inaccurately counting their reps or time – You are the one who is supposed to be motivating your client and helping do the thinking. Inaccurately counting reps or keeping time can frustrate your client and build a level of distrust between the two of you. Stay engaged by talking them through the set, giving reminders of how many reps/time they have left.
5. Forgetting where you are at in the exercise / daydreaming – Concentration can be tough for a lot of us sometimes, but frankly, this is your job. Practice being present. If your mind starts running, take a few deep breaths and refocus. It may also help to use a stopwatch, even if you’re counting reps. This can help give you an idea of where you are at in the set, in case you happen to forget.
6. Failing to correct form – Yes, sometimes it can be challenging to “correct” someone you don’t know, but that’s what they hired you for! Unless your client specifically instructs you not to correct them, then that is part of your job. Corrections do not have to be physical, and depending on your client’s preference, it may be best to just talk them through the exercises. Speaking slow, concise and to the point can ensure that your client is corrected as quickly and safely as possible.
7. Checking your phone or slurping water while your client is working out – Never walk away, check your phone or start drinking water when the client is working out hard. This is not motivating and can distract your client. Yes, you might be thirsty too, but your job is to be there for them while they’re working out. If you are using your phone to write down your workouts or keep time, you may want to consider going old school and switching to a stopwatch and notepad. When you look at your phone, even for good reason, it looks like you are giving attention to something or someone else. This is your client’s time, make sure they always feel that.
8. Not saying anything the entire exercise – There are so many reminders to give when it comes to proper form. If you can’t find anything to say, do some studying. Giving pointers about form, reminders about time/reps remaining, to take a break if needed or if form slips, will give you more than enough things to talk about. Being silent the entire set can be seen as dismissive, indifferent and non-energetic. A client is hiring you to be inspirational and to lead them through a safe effective workout. If not, they will go find someone else who can.
9. Eye contact - We know it can be hard to keep eye contact, but you can unintentionally come off as unfriendly and untrustworthy when you don’t. Studies have shown that someone with eye contact can be seen as much as three times more trustworthy than someone who doesn’t. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t stare at your client either. Check their form, but keep it classy.
Like many other rules, we all stumble into a guilty occurrence every now and again. Stumbling is forgivable, but stumbling on the same thing over and over again is not. Some of these may speak louder to you than others. Want to prevent them from happening? Write the ones that speak loudest to you on a piece of paper, in your own words if necessary, and hang it up somewhere you can see for a few days.
Take control of the variables in your sessions and you will make each one as comfortable as it is profitable.