Personal Training -- it's not Personal

Many personal trainers / coaches get into the field of Personal Training because of their passion for health and wellness, the human body, movement and/or exercise science. Others fall in love with the work because they're committed to helping people get fitness results and love to be in a gratifying business. We all can point to a few who may have stumbled into it because they were former athletes that figured it's a no-brainer to choose a career where you spend most of your waking hours in between working with sweating bodies and wearing sweatpants. 

One of the main reasons why I was captivated by the arena of Personal Training and the catalyst for working with Personal Trainers and Fitness Entrepreneurs on their business is because of the not-so-personal role that we get to own as Personal Trainers. 

Let me explain.

As a Personal Trainer we work side by side with an individual client at least 2 times per week. 

That's two hours a week / 8+ times a month of their life that they spend with you.

Ask yourself, "Who do I see at least 8 times per month every month?".

If you're in a committed relationship, you'd say your significant other or perhaps your children. If you're a social butterfly, you'd answer that it could be a handful of close friends. Parents? Forget it. Maybe you'll see them for Sunday dinners once a week if they live close by. Shrink? Maybe once a week for 50 minutes if you're consistent. 

If you think about it, clients spend more time with their personal trainer than with most other people in their lives. Which in theory would make it more personal right? Wrong.

Many personal trainers make the mistake of becoming part of the personal lives of their clients. Often than not, you hear about personal trainers who went out for drinks with a client and his/her friends on a Friday night, or (*gasp*) even started dating their own clients (we all know of one..or three trainers who've done this...).

As personal trainers, the fact that someone is paying us money to spend most of their non-working-sleeping-eating time with us means that they trust us to fulfill a role that no one else can provide them. 

What role is that? The one of "you're the one person in my life who's not part of my personal circle who knows more about me than anyone else".

How many times has a client told you, "I actually haven't even told this to my spouse yet" or "you're the only person who knows this" or "based on knowing me what do you think I should do?".

Being someone's go-to person yet not being personally involved with them is the most sacred space between a trainer and a client, and one that I believe cultivates a long lasting professional relationship between both parties. This is the role that I always got greatest gratification from and the one that I instill in the fitness entrepreneurs that I work with for retention and long term success. 

Your duty as a trainer in this capacity is to BE this person day in and day out.  


Here are three ways to ensure you live up to your role:

1) No gossip rule - never speak about other clients and their personal situations to other clients. Not even a "yeah, Megan wasn't really feeling well today so she left our session early". The second you start talking about someone else's personal situation, your client's "can-I-keep-trusting-you" antenna pops up. 

2) Be on time - although clients speak to you like a friend or confidant, they never forget that they're paying you for a service. Being on time shows that you value them and what they're paying you for - alone time.

3) Follow up - if a client has something going on personally that they shared with you, shoot them over a text to check in and see how they're doing. There's nothing more enriching than receiving a "you're doing great", "everything is going to be OK" or "I'm here for you" message. 

What you'll find by embracing this role is that your clients will stick with you long term. Whether they're getting fitness results or not, their desire (and need) to see you x times per week becomes of utmost important to them (this is not to say that your goal shouldn't be to coach them to fitness results; that should be just of importance to you).

Many trainers find that they don't want to fulfill this role. These types of trainers typically move on into a group coaching position whereby the 1-on-1 interaction is minimal (and their ability to impact more people at once is greater). Others recognize that this profession is not what they thought it would be and switch careers ('I don't want to hear people's BS. Can't I just tell someone what to do and they show up at every session?').

My invitation to you is to live up to this honorable position. You're that person everyone wants in their life - the confidant, the one who gives you a kick in the ass when it's needed, someone who is so personally invested in your success yet distanced enough to not be intertwined in the chaos of your everyday life. 


*Dana Zilber Varrone is a leading Business Coach in the Health & Fitness Industry. She helps health & fitness entrepreneurs turn their passion into profit by managing the behind-the-scenes business so you can focus on your entrepreneurial genius. 

Known as the "coach's coach" she has worked with over 1000 professionals worldwide through her no-nonsense yet compassionate approach to leadership in Fitness. 

She has led entrepreuenrs as their part-time COO to over $1m in annual revenue in less than 24 months. Her saying is "You focus on your creative genius, I'll focus on organizing and running your business like a well-oiled machine". Read more about Dana*