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By: Jamie Mushlin
What separates a great trainer from a mediocre trainer isn’t the location, size of the gym, number of degrees or certifications behind their name. It’s the ability to listen to a clients needs, asses their ailments, concerns, and ultimately be able to design a program that not only fits the clients needs, but one that allows you to maintain constant communication with the client.
Twenty seven years in this industry and I am still learning my trade, but one thing I have mastered is the ability to listen to the client and communicate. If you have these skills as a trainer, you are top of your game in my book! Yet so many trainers can get it wrong, realizing the mistakes are key, and if you have a trainer that isn’t listening, its time to find a new one.
Take a moment to read what Jonathan Goodman over the The PTDC says about losing a client and not making the proper connection.
I lost a personal training client not because I didn’t listen to him but because I didn’t read the signs properly. Learn from my mistakes…
This is embarrassing.
It’s a story about how I lost a personal training client, I’ll call him “X” and how I screwed up losing the client and thousands of dollars of business to a trainer down the street.
It’s a story about the importance of listening more to what a client isn’t saying than what he or she is.
I’ll start at the beginning…
Well maybe it was raining. Or it was sunny. I don’t remember. Rainy just flowed better. So picture a rainy day in August–overcast skies, warm and muggy–one of those days plagued by lethargy.
I was the only one in the gym, it was around 1pm; the middle of the mid-day lull. X walked in, “I was just passing by and thought I’d have a look at the place” he said.
After complimenting his red leather jacket, I immediately noticed how much of a genuinely good person X seemed to be. He was talkative, had a big smile, and asked a lot of intelligent questions. We got along great from the start.
“I’m an actor,” X said. “We just finished filming a season for the series I’m working on so I’ve got a bit of time and want to put on some muscle.”
A younger guy, 33 years old, he seemed to be healthy and had a good frame. I’d worked with some actors and musicians before and was familiar with the ebb and flow of their lives and stresses that being in the public eye hold so could talk candidly about this.
He had 3 months to work hard and was ready to go. Money didn’t seem to be an issue but, to be honest, I always tried to avoid thinking about it and would start by pitching the package I thought would work best for the client regardless of perceived affluence.
Walking back to my office, I closed the door and asked about his diet. It seemed quite good. He was into the organic trend and seemed to believe that he was intensely in-tune with his body–something that, in retrospect, I should have identified as a potential red flag.
We then spoke about his injury history. He said that his osteopath, and named him by his first name, said that he was OK to exercise but needs to be careful about 3 or 4 different things.
I wrote down all of the ailments but thought it odd that if X were so broken as his osteo seemed to believe, why was he walking normally and wanting to exercise intensely.
I did his assessment on the spot and he seemed to be in perfect health, none of his injuries showed in my assessment and at no point did he say there was any pain.
I decided that the 50 session package costing over $4,000 was the best option. At 3x training per week for 3 months, it would be sufficient. He balked at the price so I went to my second option–20 sessions split over two payments a month apart. He paid for the first installment and we were good to go.
I already had a full schedule but X was able to be flexible and come in to workout midday, so we scheduled the first session for noon the next day.
For the next two hours I researched all of his “ailments” and built the best damn workout I could put together. It was a 3 month plan–2 week transitional period, 2 4-week hypertrophy programs, and a 2 week peak at the end right before he was set to start filming again.
Noon came the next day and I excitedly took him through the program, the reasoning behind it, what he should expect, and both when and how I expected the gains to come.
One of the ailments that the osteopath had told X he had was an impingement in the hip so I decided to start with a regression of the squat–the first day we worked to a 25lbs DB goblet for 2 sets of 8 reps at a 4010 tempo (4 second eccentric, 0 second pause, 1 second concentric, 0 second pause).
Another ailment was an impingement in the left shoulder, so I started X out with an incline neutral grip DB press with 20lbs for 2 sets of 8 reps at a 4021 tempo telling him to squeeze his chest at the top.
The first workout went great. X worked hard and I figured that he would be a bit sore so took a minute to describe DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)–why it happens, what to expect, and how to manage it–gave him a couple of nutrition guidelines–and booked a workout with him two days later, on Friday.
X walked in a bit more serious. He told me that he was in pain after the workout and went to go see his osteopath Thursday who told him that he needed to “take it easy“.
The pain vs. sore discussion was one that I was familiar with so I went into my line of questioning:
In my mind, there was no question that X experienced DOMS and wasn’t injured in anyway. The pain was gone two days later.
However, this put in a precarious position–X had been seeing an osteopathic doctor for years who convinced him that he was broken. I believed that X was fine and believed that he needed to both increase his pain threshold and learn to recover better. After 30 minutes answering X’s worried questions, he agreed to go back onto the gym floor and continue the workout.
That was the last 30 minutes I trained him. After the session he said that he wasn’t sure of his schedule the following week and asked me to call over the weekend.
I called 3 times, left two messages, and sent an email–no response.
Two weeks later my manager told me that X had asked for the unused portion of his package to be refunded. He was officially a lost personal training client.
4 to 5 months later I saw X in the gym working out following what appeared to be a program; he looked the exact same and the weight he was lifting was lighter than the introductory weight I had him doing during out sessions.
We spoke and he told me that again he was sore and again he saw his osteopath after the workout who told him he should “take it easy”. X found a new trainer down the street who assured him that the training would be different–from what I gathered, the guy pretty much called me an idiot for hurting X and working him too hard.
…We had done 2 sets of 8 reps of a goblet squat with a 25lbs DB…
1. Complaining is different than worrying. Clients complain, that’s fine. Worrying is not OK though, it means that they don’t understand or that they don’t trust you. Learn the difference before it costs you your paycheck.
2. Always book at least two sessions in the future. This is a lesson that helped me a lot in the future. Before a client takes a weekend or week off for a break, book the next two sessions. After the Christmas break, for example, this allows you to get right back into training to avoid spending the first week frantically trying to book in clients.
3. Ask the right questions. When X described his relationship with his osteo and told me of the multiple diagnosis to which I found no evidence myself, it should have immediately been a red flag. Before training X, I should have called the osteo and, to be honest, I probably would have never taken him on as a client.
The signs were there. I listened to what X said but didn’t pay attention–he seemed like the ideal client and might have been if I had handled it properly. The best trainers don’t just listen, they ask the right questions and think critically about all clues and unfortunately this time, that was not me.
No Weights! Just use your bodyweight and BLAST this WORKOUT! We are keeping this workout super SIMPLE Today! So simple you may have thought we didn’t finish writing the post. But when your workouts are driven, focused, and consist of great form you get results and feel the BURN! This is designed to be done in 3 complete cycles yet if your a Rockstar and want to push yourself, try it up to 5 complete cycles! We found this from Domestic Mama, and we enjoyed how this simple workout made us feel the burn we just wanted to share it.
By: Brian Shaw
Anything worth building must start with a solid foundation. This statement is true in every aspect of our lives, but none more important than our physical fitness. This workout will challenge what you have always believed were your limits in leg training. Take a deep breath, and get to work!
At this time finish off with abdominal work.
When you are ready to take your training to the next level, workouts with the intensity required to complete programs such as this will help you break through plateaus and shock your body into growth.
Ask ten hardcore training fanatics what they feel is the most important meal of the six or more they consume in a 24 hour period, and you will be likely to hear 10 different answers, all with science and testing results to back them up.
So what is my opinion?
I like to keep things simple. As you may have read in my previous entries, I am all about intensity during training.
Changing your body is hard work, and hard work cannot be accomplished without intensity. So I subscribe to the basic “fuel principle.” Yes, I just made that up. But let me explain what I mean.
To work hard you need energy. To create energy you need fuel. To possess the necessary fuel you need to consume the right nutrients. The timing of intake for these nutrients is the most important aspect of the principle. For years now we have seen the benefits of eating 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day to maintain metabolism and energy.
But a complete meal containing a combination of protein, “slow-burning” complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats approximately one and a half hours before training is key! Notice I did not refer to the always loved caffeine powered pre-workout supplements that provide that extra push to complete your training, but a full, solid food packed meal.
A commonly spoken complaint by my clients is the difficulty in planning and timing your meals properly. I understand how hard it is to get this done, but we cannot fight how our bodies function, and it is the dedication and diligence that is required to see real change. Planning your day so that you can get your “fuel” prior to hitting the gym will far outweigh the time spent working out an eating schedule.
So where does this place the importance of post-workout meal planning on my list of important meals?
It is still a vital part of the equation, but to get to your “post-workout” stage, you must first COMPLETE your training! Without the proper nutrition intake before you hit the gym, you will fall short of your goal for that day.
So for me, every meal you consume is important, but if asked to pick one that makes the most difference in your training, you have my answer.
Train hard today!