Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Successful Personal Training Client

To judge the success of personal training, is to judge the effectiveness of the use of time.

People will judge training based on the price in comparison to their expected result. It should actually be judged on time in comparison to expected result. A lot of this is about putting the focus on the wrong criteria. Money you can make back. Time unfortunately you can never get back. At times I may sound frustrated, impassioned, or as if I am pleading with the fitness world. It is only because I am passionate about this business and about getting people their health back. This is the goal of All Out Effort. To change how fitness is perceived and administered.

The successful personal training client doesn't just get personal training. Though that is the first step. There are many people who get personal training and not all of them are successful at it. Finding the right personal trainer that you believe in is important.

Look at testimonials, look at their program, do they do nutrition, what are their qualifications if any, try free consultations and assessments and make an educated choice. Don't just be mesmerized by their photos. How they look and how you look are two different things, there is a correlation but not a direct cause and effect.

Once you make that choice, make a leap of faith that not every day is going to be results and sunshine but you will at the end be much better off embarking on this journey than not doing it at all. Find someone passionate who does this for a living, not does this to pay the bills while they pursue their real passion. You can get really cheap training this way, but you will get what you pay for.

Trust in the program. Allow the trainer to do their job and guide you through this process. Don't backseat coach. Let's say you have 8 weeks to train before an event or a trip. The trainer carefully prepares an 8 week program with everything you will eat and every exercise you will do. If you come in and say that you don't want to work this or that, or you don't like that routine, you don't think this will work, and eventually always want to do something else, you are lacking any faith and you don't really need a trainer. Now you the  client are the one orchestrating the program. So whatever results should come at the end of 8 weeks becomes unknown and random. But you have taken control. You are basically paying for someone to stand there and count your reps while you do only what you feel like. You are in charge of your body but not of the program.

70/30

Remember 30% of what you are paying for is your trainer, the other 70% is paying for the program you are enrolling in. And if the trainer cannot create a program, and it's always made up and random and based on nothing, you are with the wrong trainer. All our clients next 6 months of work outs are planned for them ahead of time.

We have over 50 one on one clients. I'd love to take the credit and tell you it's because I am that great of a human being. It's not. It's because our program is that good. There's plenty of good trainers, but not all of them have good programs. There's a lot of good schools but not all of them have a great program in the major you are looking for either.

Remember there is a difference between training and a hard work out. The focus is on the wrong criteria. Training is solely judged on progress. A hard work out is based solely on how tired you feel after. There's a lot of work outs and trainers and programs who market themselves as the hardest most insane work out. That has nothing to do with progress. Progress doesn't care how bad you feel after a work out. Progress is based on if you have improved. Training is about progress and should not be judged on the level of nausea you have after your session. Any idiot can burn you out, a professional can keep you fresh enough for your next work out and get you one step closer to your ultimate goal. That difference in how one judges a work out, will be the difference in your progress, your consistency, and your injury rate. We are training you in a program, not working you out mindlessly. You are a human being and must train accordingly.

Remember that you are the captain of your own body and destiny. The trainer acts as a lighthouse, guiding you home, it is your choice to go directly towards the light, or take detours, get rerouted, or distracted. If that becomes the case you may never end up where you wanted to be. And if anything you do hurts or is uncomfortable, it is your body, it is your job to voice your concerns and the trainer to modify things to accommodate. It is a collaboration and the trainer is your guide, but they can't do it for you or make you do it. Your body, their program. Remember what it is your signed up for. You looked for a trainer but stayed for the program.

Be coachable. Listen and heed the advice of your coach. Let them impact your life, how else can they help you change your lifestyle? They should not be another resource that you get work outs from. They should be one of your most trusted advisers. Do not consider your trainer and your sessions the same as some Groupon or Living Social deal that you can easily replace. It's why we don't offer any presale of our services. That chance to see how well we work together prior to you purchasing anything is a huge part of success.

You also don't want to argue with your coach. This leaves two options. The trainer and client will spend the whole session arguing, or the trainer spends the whole session doing whatever you like. They get paid the same regardless so most trainers will do whatever it is you want. Even if all you want to do is spend an hour talking about all your problems to them. Using your trainer as your shrink is also not the most effective use of your time.


Remember your training time isn't therapy time, isn't stress relieve time, or even a time to prove your mettle or toughness. It is a time to progress. Progress, mental focus, and safety are the top 3 concerns. Remember when you are at the gym, be at the gym. Don't have your body at the gym and your mind elsewhere. This will only lead to bad things and a waste of time. Whatever money you spend on training, you can make back. Time is something you can never get back. Your time is the most valuable commodity. Remember that next time you want to be off task. Be mindful and present.

Work out on your own and practice whatever moves you learn. It's like anything else, from martial arts to piano. There are skills involved and you need to practice it until you get better at it. If every session, the first 30 minutes has to be used to retrain you in moves you've already learned before, it is not the most effective use of your time. This is one of the biggest problems for progress.

What do some trainers do? Allow their clients to work out with sloppy and poor form, or don't teach them anything at all. Only have them do the easiest moves, that are basically equivalent to a step cardio class. Then, again, what are you paying for? You are paying for progress and a program. I don't care how badly you need to lose weight, you will not go any further until you perfect your form. Make the most use of your personal training time by practicing and working out also on your own. You don't have to of course but we are talking about how to be more successful with personal training. All of this then is voluntary based on the level of success you want.

Don't be that client who comes in, never working out on their own, never even thinking about working out once they leave their trainer. Then be shown a move they have seen and done many times before, and look at it being shown again, as if this was the first time they had seen it. I've seen plenty of people in the gym with their trainers, and have been training for years, and can't do one lift correctly and knows how to do ZERO complex or advanced movements. Their gym skill level is that of someone who also just walked into the gym for the first time. If that is the case, then whatever you gained can be easily lost, if you gained any results at all.


Results take skill. Working out is 50% skill building. You can't look like a martial artist or a gymnast until you can do what they can do. There are so many movements, concepts, and exercises. The longer you train, the more of these you should master. And if your trainer hasn't mastered anything themselves, they are not the right trainer. Nothing bothers me more than seeing a trainer teaching their client how to use something they have no idea how to use, from kettlebells to Olympic bar work outs. If you have been with a trainer for years, and though you are physically capable, yet just never got the knowledge to deadlift, squat, press, clean, or swing, you are missing out on all the exercises with the most metabolic payout.

People think mindless cardio is the ultimate metabolic booster, because they were never introduced to any of the more complex exercises. I never know what to say when someone asks if running or just cardio is the best way to burn fat. What about the thruster, burpee, push press, tabada, swing, etc. There's a whole world of fatburn just waiting for you, but it takes guidance from a professional and so it can't be taught through the internet or through DVD. All those DVDs have the same exercises, just in different order, and for different rep counts. Why? Because those are the only things you can have people do without teaching them anything. How to jump in place, run in place, jumping jacks, crunches, can all be done with no education, just following along. I don't think I've ever had one client do even a single crunch. Skill is something that is never brought up enough if at all in fitness. All those videos market to you by saying, it's so easy anyone can do it. Well it's not easy. Being fit is not easy. Dieting is not easy. Even losing 5lbs is not easy and to those who progress, to those who even shed 5lbs and keep it off, they should be commended. Because far too often TV makes those dramatic feats seem to easy when it is not.

Be consistent. So much of personal training gets wasted on rebuilding. Things come up. They always do. If you train twice a week, and you buy 10 session, you figure that it will last you 5 weeks. No. On average it will last you 8-10 weeks. That's if you show up all the way to the last session that is. Why is this? Because things will come up. Work comes up, sickness, vacations, trips, people visiting, oversleeping, or lack of motivation. So you miss a lot of training, and you don't work out on your own. What does that mean? Each time you show up, it's not about building progress, it's about trying to rebuild you to where you were before. You're new to training, your flexibility, cardio, and strength is low. We build it up a little in three session. Then you are out for a week and you never work out in that time. You come back, your strength, cardio, and flexibility is now back to where it was on day one. Now we rebuild it again, as we do, more things come up. It's always a game of catch up and the only thing you lose is time and results. Be consistent, show up when you are supposed to. Things will always come up, accept that, and work around them.


You will never be able to only work out when conditions are perfect because they will never be perfect. There's plenty of people busier than you in the world, and they still make it work. Make this program important. Make a point of putting your health first.

Be patient and understand this is a process. We are trying to reverse years of metabolic damage here and it doesn't happen over night. You need to build the foundations first, then use the foundations to make progress. Otherwise whatever gains you make, will be temporary. Look at weight loss shows and how quickly they gain it back after.

Commit. You have to commit for the long haul, that this will be a new way of life for you. You may not always have to stay with personal training, but health afterwards should always remain a priority.

Make yourself accountable. Use loved ones, social networks, your website, training partners, your coaches, family, your dog, whoever. The whole reason AA works is because of the accountability.

Be good with your diet and commit to all the dietary guidelines your trainer gives you. Our clients initially text everything they eat until they get the idea of what good eating is. That may be too much commitment for some. But if you work out hard and cheat on your eating, your poor eating will beat hard work outs every time.

Stay positive. Enough negative self talk. Whatever happens you'll figure it out, no matter how impossible a task seems, you'll figure it out. And you'll live. How do you know you will do this? Because that's what you've always done, and if you hadn't, you wouldn't have made it this far in life.

And I know this one is obvious, but don't flirt with your trainer and don't hire a trainer who is flirty. I've seen it too many times, when instead of training, you see a trainer talking all session with their client as if they just met at a night club. Or the whole time is the trainer massaging or stretching their client too intimately.

About the Author:

Coach Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Coach, Certified Nutritionist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Pilates and Yoga instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook and Pinterests.
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