Updated: Nov 3
This post was originally inspired by new sign-ups to build expectations and see who is serious about "training" and working hard, cause after all that is exactly what training is when you break it all down. As a coach, it's a way to remove any potential drama, put the ball back in the client's court, and hold your clients accountable.
The Real Role of Your Trainer
Contrary to popular belief, the real role of a personal trainer is to not babysit and coddle you emotionally, although this more than often seems to be the case. Our single most important job as trainers and coaches is to provide you with a "proven" collective blueprint to guarantee success and save you much time and energy. In other words, we give you a program that gets you results better and much faster than what you could do for yourself.
It's going to suck. The quicker you accept this fact the stronger you can become both "mentally" and "physically" and you can effectively attack your goals. This is so powerful and important. Too often trainers just tell clients what they want to hear and never challenge them and their current beliefs at the onset to make sure they align with the proper mindset to handle physical and mental discomfort; AKA training. Somehow our culture has created this whole idea of overly focused "motivational" coaching which is simply ludicrous. Cut out your excuses and get to work. If you make training a priority and want to become better bad enough then good things will happen and you will save so much time, energy, and frustration. If you don't then you're going to continue being stuck in a rut.
Don't believe me?
Research shows true motivation is based on positive daily action and a very clear, precise, and challenging purpose that must come from within. Please read that again. Your motivation is an internal process that is derived from within you. Not me, not your spouse, or anyone else, just you! For example, a study years back on West Point Cadets, clearly showed that those who possessed a stronger inward or intrinsic sense of motivation had higher graduation rates and post-graduation success than those who were externally focused. so instead of focusing on what others think of you and all the fleeting admiration our culture values, look in and find a much stronger purpose for fitness that can last a lifetime. Here are some examples for you:
"I want to live longer for my kids"
"I want to be healthy so I'm happier and feel more productive in my day-to-day life"
"I want to look good so I feel stronger mentally"
"I want to be the best athlete I can be to help my team succeed"
(Optimizing training for effective fat loss. Learn more here)
A trainer's main job has never been to be a cheerleader. This isn't to say that a trainer shouldn't be a form of support, because they should be just like your family and friends. Don't get me wrong. It's a business partnership first though, and you can become friends once everything is in order. Meaning you are doing exactly what you should be doing according to a proven evidenced-based system, and getting your money's worth.
In the words of renowned coach Dr. John Rusin; The goal for clients should be to work towards self-education and sufficiency. Most trainers want your money forever instead of guiding you towards being your best self and handling things on your own, contrary to popular belief. If you want to keep your trainer and pay him/her great. But it should be an issue of wanting to, and not necessarily having to because you were trained to have to always rely on him or her for your success, or society has taught you that you always need one to be successful.
But I'm paying him or her good money for a service
We all know the common phrase "Don't bring your issues into the workplace!". The same goes for training. Figure out your issues keep that garbage at the door, and get to work. You must take your fitness seriously and train your brain to do the same. Moreover, permanently remove your excuses (i.e. I'm fat, weak, tired, lazy, bad genetics, etc.) and pick yourself up and get yourself in gear! You can be a badass regardless of what anyone or anything tells you, you just have to want it.
Reality is that many people like the idea of a trainer, but need to overcome excuses to profit from the experience and get the most from it. Trainers aren't your therapists, contrary to popular belief. Hire someone else to solve your emotional problems if necessary. For some reason, training culture has accepted this asinine idea that trainers should also serve as therapists, which they aren't and never will be simply because they aren't qualified to do so!! Not to mention, so much precious time is wasted with this belief system and approach. Oh and money. So save your money and get to work.
(Customized nutrition plans for your goals. Learn more here)
Even then, what are therapists doing? Putting it all back on you and what you can control, so take back control of yourself today and get rid of your excuses. It's that easy. Once you start doing this, you'll quickly realize the benefit and that you do have the power and courage to relinquish your vision and goals. Moreover, improving your physical health by being productive, creates a very reliable and healthy outlet to better help you deal with your baggage and you'll feel much better mentally in the process. There is as much real-world evidence as anything that clearly shows hard, intense, regular exercise helps manage mental health as good as just about anything we've discovered in applied psychology.
But you have to earn it! It's like the old saying goes; "Nothing good comes easy." There are no substitutes or shortcuts that exist here. This circles me back to my original point; the quicker you accept this reality the better off you will be. Lastly, remember that it's perfectly fine to start small, build habits and positive momentum that I assure you will add up and make the process easier over time. If you are ready to make drastic changes and up your game a few notches then that is fine too. Where you start isn't nearly as important as the fact that you are starting and that you stay "consistent" week in and week out. The rest will come.
The subtle and damaging effects of negative self-talk
Did you know that all of your regular excuses train your brain to respond poorly and sap your motivation? Negative self-talk has been proven to reinforce negative thinking, complaining, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation and confidence, and anything else negative that will sabotage you from this toxic mental pattern. So stop doing it. Excuses are the primary motivation and productivity killers. Here is a quick list of the common ones:
Obesity is a disease
My genes make me fat
It's too hard
I'm slow cause I have poor genes
I can't do it
My body can't grow muscle
My other trainer told me XY and Z
Most excuses don't matter and they aren't real. And for the select few that are you can ALWAYS work around them to a high degree. It's just mental weakness multiplying In your mind because you don't want to put in the work. Period.
The reality is that you can take any fitness-related endeavor, and there have been multiple highly disadvantaged individuals who conquered that endeavor when they were supposed to, and everyone told them they couldn't. I guarantee most of these individuals had it far worse than you and overcame their immense struggles, so there is "zero" reason why you can't either! Here is an effective exercise. Psychology science calls this "The Blue Dolphin Theory" which I talked about in my fat loss and conditioning handbook. Each time a toxic thought or belief comes up simply substitute it with a contrasting one that is positive immediately. It's pretty much an affirmation, but they are indeed powerful and they work. Over time you will begin to rewire your brain and carry a much more positive outlook on the whole dreaded training process.
Here is another thing to consider that can set you back; forget about what anyone else tells you. Most people are haters and want to see you fail miserably, so they can feel better about themselves. Do it for yourself so you can help others be better. That's most important! Also, remember I'm telling you all of this because I truly want to see you succeed, and I've seen it work too many times with my clients, it is grounded in science, and if you don't apply what I'm telling you then you are limiting your success and inevitably setting yourself back volumes from your goals. I know all of this may sound a bit harsh, but it's the truth folks.
And if you happen to be a trainer or coach reading this, then this final message is for you...
I wish someone would have shared this with me twenty years ago. It's not easy at first to do because it requires some boldness and confronting the issue, but you will thank me later once it becomes the standard you set with your people. Don't be an enabler of your client's struggles and problems. Focus your efforts on solutions and you can never go wrong. Also, once you have set expectations at the start, created a training system that automatically creates self-accountability which you can clearly prove through your training portfolio, and put it back on the client, you'll be smooth sailing!
Remember not to reward bad behavior which is anything negative I previously mentioned in this article. If you do you've now opened Pandora's Box. Flip the script, lead as a trainer, set the tone, and don't let your clients walk all over you and shift the focus, because they will, whether they mean to or not. They will also perceive you as less valuable and lose respect for you if you let this happen. Let them know that It doesn't matter how quickly they get to where they are going unless a deadline is present (i.e. figure competitor getting ready for a show, etc.). What matters is that they are constantly moving the needle forward in some small way each and every day, and "measurably" moving towards their best self. Results should always be tangible.
You as the trainer need to control the "frame" cause it's in the best interest of your clients and their success. I mean they hired you to lead and conduct a service after all, right? The Inevitable reality of this approach is that more people will dislike you and leave you, but on the flipside, you will help many more people and truly help instill proper habits and behaviors to improve and forever change lives, IF, and this is a big one, you know what the hell you are doing. If not, contact me and I can mentor you and I'd be more than happy to personally teach you my complete training system.