Why Honesty Is The Key To Personal Training
Honesty between a client and professional is vital when it comes to training and nutrition. The three hours a week you might spend supervised in the gym can make a huge difference to your body composition and strength, provided nutrition and lifestyle outside of the gym are where they should be. However, it isn't everything and will never promise always results.
When a client is not honest, it becomes extremely difficult for the professional to implement changes and continually progress the program towards the desired outcomes. Let’s say that you have got a fat loss client at 2500kcal per day, and over the past three weeks they have gained 1.5kg of weight.
The client says they have been sticking to the diet and extra training demands. However, they have been consuming around 3000kcal per day through a tonne of bread, plus not doing any extra sessions.
As a professional, you would look at the information at hand and then likely recommend a reduction in energy intake or increase in activity. The problem is, if they client wasn’t sticking to the plan at 2500kcal a day or three training sessions per week, these new changes won’t promote adherence and are actually likely to make it worse.
Eventually something has to give. Either the client will sack the trainer for not getting results, or the professional will lose faith and stage an intervention. While I’ve never personally had to do that, it will end up similar to option one (the client is gone).
As professionals, we tend to place the emphasis for honesty on the client – they must be honest with the professional to achieve their results. But what about the professionals themselves - shouldn't they be accountable and honest as well?
It’s common to see fitness professionals overstating their experience, education, results and even scope of practice. Walk into any commercial gym and the majority of trainers are specialists in muscle gain, weight loss, sports performance, rehab, prenatal, post-natal, group classes and boxing, among everything else.
Of course, being a fitness professional can be hard and you need clients. You want to appeal to as many as possible, because you genuinely believe they will benefit from your service. You also want stay in food!
However, you can't compromise integrity to gain a client or mislead them into signing up. Here are a few of the common ones you might see today!
Experience should be counted as time employed in the fitness industry. University or study doesn’t count. Playing sport doesn’t count. Watching YouTube videos doesn't count.
I’ve seen 25 year olds claim to have 18 years experience in the industry and playing sport. Now that’s great, but playing have-a-go cricket does provides relatively small knowledge transfer to coaching a client in the gym.
I understand experience is important, but surely 18 years at age 25 doesn’t even makes sense to them. Besides, I’d be more impressed by a trainer who had been in the industry for six months and was getting good results, exposure and reviews. If it’s taken 18 years to build a client base, it might be time to go to something else!
Shout out to the Canberran public servants out there!
In this case, professional shows no relation to your knowledge, experience or results. In that sense, many phenomenal trainers are not professionals.
The squad at Oxford define professional can be defined as "engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation, rather than as an amateur." Basically, if you work 9am-5pm and take two clients for a one-hour session per week, you’re not a professional.
Same goes for an Instagram model who takes photos at the gym promoting clothes and supplements. Yes you are fit, but you are getting paid to be good-looking (I sound jealous because I am jealous).
You can still be awesome without being a professional, and I can tell you a number of trainers who are exactly that!
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If you dropped out of uni the day before census semester one, to become a personal trainer, there is no need to put ‘university educated’ in your profile. I know Mark Zucks and BG (Bill Gates) never finished, but they aren’t trying to tell you they did.
The same goes for the crew who completed finance and then got into finance, only to realise they hated it. Now they’ve jumped across to PT and are doing well. However, macroeconomics and macronutrients are two completely different things. I think.
For this crew 'tertiary qualified trainer' is a stretch...
I mentioned this briefly before – trainers who claim to do everything, but end up doing very little well.
I'm sure trainers would claim to be heart surgeons if possible, because one time they got someone’s heart rate above 180bpm and now they are cardiac specialists. Fortunately, the medical industry is more regulated than fitness!
There’s nothing wrong with being good at one thing, but that’s a topic for another day. There's also no need to be be everything to everyone. If you are good at one thing, the clients who need that service will seek you out and head towards you.
Sure, it takes a little while to get established and you might lose money for a while, but it will be worth it and you can maintain your integrity - which is underrated!
Fitness is a results-based business, which is reflected in the marketing methods. Now I use these results myself, I have had clients review my services and if someone is looking for a service/goal, I will often put them in contact with someone who has done something similar with me.
You might now that I don’t like transformation photos, but hey, that’s just me and others love them.
I was even lucky enough to see a three-day transformation posted on social media this year – that’s right, three days! The only transformation you can expect in the first three days is the decrease in bank account, as the client pays for the first week's training!
You’ve all seen the transformation pictures where the first one is pale, bloated and under the worst lighting imaginable (aka my bathroom). The next one is a tanned, flexed and dry client sitting under the strongest down-lighting invented. The difference looks remarkable.
It’s part optical illusion and part real results. But I’m sure it’s enough trickery to get Essena O’Neil to quite social media again!
But they work as a marketing tool, so expect to keep them coming.
This post was light hearted and I made good jokes, but do take a second to think about it. Honesty is a two-way street and if we expect clients to be honest with us, it's time to start being honest with them!