What makes a fantastic personal trainer?

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I am a personal trainer…

but honestly, I am more than a personal trainer. I am a coach for life. I see more than others see. I see a whole person – looking to be better tomorrow than he/she is today. And I guide individuals to betterment.

What separates a fantastic trainer from the others?

A fantastic trainer is the one with the personality that best matches your needs. I have been doing research on what sets me apart from my colleagues. The responses are heart warming and tear jerking. Some responses relate to my enormous education and love for learning. But more mention my heart.

I am with my client every step of the way.

I am a role model – living what I teach.

I genuinely care about a client – including her spirit, not just her physical being.

I am honest. As this blog is titled: strong, brave, and honest.


The one aspect that I would add to the meme is passion. I am passionate about my work, and being my best so that I can be the best for my clients. I have the opportunity to live out my dream daily – through this blog and through my teaching and training.

Are you living your passion?

The bottomline

I sometimes feel like a broken record, but not all trainers are created equal. IF you are looking to hire a trainer, do your research and find one with not only the education (please click and read the link) but also the spirit and heart to match yours!


An overlooked component of goal setting

In a recent discussion with a friend, I was asked about how I measure success with my clients – seen as it is well known that most individuals do not attain their desired results with personal trainers. Well the good news is, I can honestly say that I have had 95+% success with clients. Does that mean that all my clients have successfully lost weight? No. It means that I set my clients up for success. There is no room for failure.

How do I set my clients up for success? By giving them the tools that they need. By listening to their pains, needs, and desires. By asking questions – what has or has not worked in the past, what are the challenges and obstacles, what is the easiest, what is the scariest, etc.?

And among other strategies – success can be molded with appropriate goal setting.

Goal setting, plus photo (19)

I know, I know. You have heard it before – you must set goals. We are bombarded with the advice to set goals, but are we shown HOW to set goals? I often see one common flaw in most goal setting advice – negative terminology. I suspect that most of us do not give it a second thought. Most individuals do not even see the negative.

For example, I will not let a client set the goal, “I will lose __ pounds.”

Do you know what is wrong with this goal? You may immediately suspect that I do not want my client setting weight goals (which is true). However, I do not allow the use of negative terminology. This means, no goals with the words lose, less, not, don’t, won’t, decrease, etc.

Instead, we use the words more, improve, increase, will, etc.

Language and perspective can be incredibly influential. True, it is semantics. But our brain processes “I will wear a size 8” far differently than it processes “I will lose 2 dress sizes.” Successful goal setting is associated with acceptance of where we begin and building a map to where we will go. You want to improve? Talk with positivity. You want to fail? Use negative terminology. In the schools of psychology and philosophy this is called the Law of Attraction – that “like attracts like” and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results


The bottomline

“Like attracts like.” You have to believe. You have to be optimistic. You must focus on the improvements and the behaviors you want to increase, rather than the negativities (e.g., telling yourself that you cannot eat something you actually want to eat). Below I have included the foundational steps of goal setting. Let’s set goals!


You must be honest and realistic with a self-evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can set appropriate and challenging goals. Also, you must be honest with your process as you move towards a goal. If the goal is too hard or too easy, you can adjust it. If it is easily accomplished, reset for a higher standard. It is okay to adjust the goal based on your feedback and learning. By having a deadline or timeline for your goal, you are able to examine your progress and re-visit the feasibility of the goal.

1. Commit your goals to paper

2. Review your goals on a regular basis. Make your list of goals accessible, so that you can review it on a regular basis. Frequent reminders will help keep you on track.

3. Be specific. Set the goal to exactly what you want to achieve.

4. Be realistic. Begin by setting small, attainable goals in order that they will propel you into future success. For example, set a simple goal that you will avoid excess food at a party this weekend. Set another goal as simple as having a great workout tomorrow.

5. Focus on the short-term goals, as short-term changes in behavior will help you reach long-term goals. Set small goals to get the ball rolling, and success will breed success.

6. As you achieve your goals, return to your list and update the entire set of goals.


A good problem to have?

I like to think that I am humble – but confident. That confidence can be mistaken for arrogance – but I simply know what I know. The key to this is that I also know what I do not know. I know that I am good at what I do. The fitness industry is known for pushy sales. I never sell myself and individuals still find their way to me. Why? I know what I am doing and they can see that. Further, it helps that I look the part!

I recently relocated to Minnesota. I have been training a few clients here and there – keeping one foot in my passion for health and fitness. The problem? Other gym goers see me training and want to train with me. Your average trainer would probably kill for the number of walk up clients I could have. But I do not have the time for these clients. Between a full time job, online clients, in-person clients, and leaving time for this blog – my schedule is booked. (Time to raise my rates!)

A problem with the industry

I have also had a couple of individuals admit that they were happy to see someone they felt they could trust. Awesome? Well, yes and no. I wish I trusted my colleagues, but I do not. I am happy that at least some gym-goers can identify quality trainers when they see them. I wish I could refer my overflow…but I am not sure where to send them. Who can manage bum knees, hips, and shoulders and still achieve weight loss or muscle building? 80% of my colleagues do not know how to build a program (i.e., 4-12 weeks’ worth of workouts that complement one another while working for a common goal) let alone how to successfully work around comorbidities (not to mention that a ‘personal trainer’ is only qualified to work with asymptomatic individuals). I have talked about qualified personal trainers and I will again and again. And again. Because I do not want to see you get hurt. And I do not want I see you fail. I do not want to see you throw your money and time away.

I am not good at saying no – because I want to help. I want individuals to feel and move better. I have conversations and hear pain indicators –

“I have tried everything” or

“I just don’t know what to do” or

“I am tired” or

“I have given up”.

I love the excitement of being able to bring life back to someone’s eyes. I love watching someone MOVE. I love seeing improvements – empowering others to be their best.

The bottomline

I need to practice using my ‘NO’ muscle. I can only take on so many clients. And what happens to the others? Do I let them wander aimlessly? Do I refer them to an unqualified trainer? A bit of a professional ethics dilemma.