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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.
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!
By: Jamie Mushlin
When asked the most common question, “why is getting in shape so difficult?”, the flurry of responses and excuses is overwhelming.
People respond with, …its too hard, …I don’t have enough time in my day, or ….I don’t know what to do, or …..I dont want to join a gym.
Although in their minds they justify those answers, they still turn out to just be excuses.
If working out were easy, I am sure everyone would do it, or if you didnt have to sweat, or if it didnt hurt so much or if it didnt cost so much. We often find people taking the road to least resistance and when it comes to fitness, the road less traveled is usually the one that yields the most rewards and most benefits to our health.
Face it…. working out is hard and challenges you not only physically but mentally as well.
It’s no wonder why less than 40% of the population trains and exercises with a program on a consistent basis.
When we were born, no one was handed a manual on how to stay fit, no blueprint of what exercises, intensity, and duration to follow, and definately no counselor or advisor to review with us the proper nutrition avenues to take.
With saying that, we are left up to our own to figure out how to maintain a healthy heart, lean muscle mass, flexibility, and endurance… or are we?
Where do people go to figure out fitness for dummies? There are so many avenues if your serious about getting in shape where you can go to learn basic information and tools to help you live an active, healthy lifestyle.
The power of the internet is a phrase so often used but also holds so much merrit. Looking up workouts on You tube, finding chat rooms, purchasing dvds and hiring personal trainers all can help you enhance your fitness horizons. Working out doesn’t have to be difficult, or confusing. Take time to make a list and you can be well on your way to getting in shape and possibly the best shape of your life.
Take a sheet of paper out, and start writing down your “bucket list” of fitness goals or things you would like to accomplish. For example, if you have always wanted to work out consistently 3 days per week, put it down, or if you always wanted to do a pull-up, put it down, or maybe you wanted to be able to do a 5k run, or maybe even something as simple as walking around your neighborhood without being out of breath.
Whatever the goal, whatever your motivation, write it down and make it a reality. Statistics show that people who write to plan, achieve their goals or actions 65% more than those who don’t!
Exercise and fitness does’nt have to be hard, make small goals such as walking 20 minutes per day, 3 sets of 10-12 push-ups per day, or maybe you would like to swim laps in the pool. Just take action and understand every step in a positive direction towards a healthy body, is more years and life you add to your living.
If all of this seems overwhelming still and your not sure how to go about it, look into hiring a personal trainer, one who is certified, looks and speaks the part. Find a trainer who has a great personality, shows genuine care in helping you achieve your goals and ensure this trainer views you as more then just a number or source of income to them.
There are many trainers and personal training facilities/gyms to go to, pick one that works for you!
In your journey towards a better healthier you, check us out at Red Fitness Lounge and see how the Red Fitness Team can help you design and execute a plan of attack, and helping start feeling better, looking better, and living longer. We only get one body, and you should take care of it the best you can because the reality is, it will take care of you!
Getting in shape does’nt have to be difficult and we can show you how! Contact us Today!
When you think about it, for those of us striving for success, whether in life, health, love or career, wasting time is never a purposeful pursuit. So why do so many step into a gym, at times with only a mere 30 minutes to an hour to train, and voluntarily waste their time? Think about the number of minutes you spend standing in front of a stack of weights, or an endless row of machines, and ponder what to do next, during which your heart rate has slowed, and you’ve lost momentum and intensity. The fix is simple; have a plan.
I spent a number of years early on in my training having no clue what exercises I was going to perform once I arrived at the gym. Sure, I knew the muscle groups that were up for torture, but I would go from one corner to the next trying to decide my best course of action. I would see guys with notebooks and magazines, marking down reps and weight used after every set, not truly understanding the necessity of it all. I was in the gym. That’s all that mattered, right? Never forget, pulling into the parking lot and walking through the door is only HALF the battle, and the easier half if you’re training properly.
It took me a long time to be convinced that the minutes I wasted making my decision as to the next exercise to perform should have been spent kicking the crap out of myself with the next set of incline fly’s. I broke down and starting bringing in my own notebook with my plan of attack for that day already lay out before me. I tracked sets, reps and weight, no longer needing to remember what I had done and how much I lifted the previous time I worked a particular muscle group. The results were immediate. My workouts exploded with intensity, AND decreased in time.
This principle also applies to “why” you are in the gym as well. Is your plan to lose 10 pounds? Do you want to add 5 pounds of muscle over the next 9 to 12 months? Do you want to lower your blood pressure and get off the laundry list of medications you currently take everyday? Having a clear and concise plan in mind makes the ultimate goal a tangible, living thing. We need to know that the time we spend is worth something, and we have to be able to measure that worth.
Try this: next time you step into a gym, take time before hand to lay out exactly what you want to do, including exercises, sets, reps, and weight, then follow it to the letter. The promise I make is that the time no longer spent deciding what to do will give you that much more energy to put into that bicep curl!
Train hard today!!