Monday, September 19, 2011

Why a Caring Attitude Trumps All Your Knowledge

My first official trainer bio pic - 1999
I have made so many mistakes in my career as a fitness professional. First, I was never sure what to tell people when I was asked "what do I do for a living?" Its usually the second question you are asked when meeting new people. And when I responded that I "was a fitness trainer"; I always received a puzzled look. Not many people really know what a trainer is assumed that we simply meet people and accompany them in the gym at certain exercise stations. Conversing, watching people exercise, and making people sweat...thats what many people outside the "fitness circle" imagine a trainer does. For many years,  this stigma made me quite embarrassed to announce my occupation. I found myself deliberating my duties along with my title to clear any assumptions people made and to make them understand the profession. I also, wanted to make it easier for me--to clear the air and move on in the conversation. 

Flash forward about 10 years...

I have grown confident in how I am and my profession. Reason being? I have established myself as a professional merely on delivering on my service. I am sought out and singled out in a   slew of competitors merely on my position as being professional, honest, and right-to-the-point. I am an avid problem solver. I never lose sight of what is expected of me from my clients. They may lose sight of their goal from time to time--but not me. I am rabid and I seek every route to get them on that path--quickly, safely, and effectively. Sadly, not all trainers think like me. My competitors want to keep their clients comfortable while sucking their wallets dry and making them dependent. My clients become STARS in their gyms. They can be spotted on a Monday night performing exercises that those on the treadmills or cable cross-overs would only dream of attempting. My clients gain confidence and get stronger--not only through pushing and pulling weights--but by being challenged to try things that they have learned "not to attempt". Their conditioning improves,  their confidence improves, and their physiques follow suit.

I am all about people gaining confidence. Because that is the "motherboard" to who we are. Either we have it, or we don't...or we have it on the bottom of layers of life that have negatively impacted us. Whichever the case, my job is to help my clients peel each layer off and boost their confidence.

With each successful story, I develop and reaffirm my approach to each client. Listen to their goals, understand why they have not been able to achieve them on their own, and map out a success route. Mapping out a success route starts with identifying weakness--not only muscular imbalances, but taking into account: demeanor, fears, past experiences with exercise, and frequency of physical activity. In my opinion, muscular screening is never-ending. Assessments don't stop after the initial screen. They continue throughout the program. Every exercise becomes an assessment and a measure of success.

In a recent interview on the website TrainerWise, Charlie Weingroff said the most important trait for a fitness professional to possess is "a caring attitude".

Real simple, right? A caring attitude is not taught in school...its not a module on any certification exam that is tested. It is a behavioral trait that is embedded in all of us through a multi-facet grooming in our infancy, childhood and adulthood years. This grooming we receive comes from our parents, guardian, teachers, friends, family, and overall life interactions. This simple trait is what keeps fitness professionals in business. Its not all the books you read...all the big names you know...or all the products you put out. That is the clothing we wear. When stopped naked, all that we are left with is an innate attitude that cares about the betterment of our fellow man.


  1. John,

    Awesome post. You really hit home with some stuff, too. I remember having years of being a touch embarrassed when confronted with the (frequent) question of "what do you do?" and having to respond with "I'm a personal trainer".

    Like you, I immediately started trying to explain what I did.

    Now, I simply respond that I'm a "performance coach" as that's much closer to what I do, or say something like "I help people do things they never thought possible. I have the greatest job in the world". Regardless, even if I said I was a personal trainer I am now confident enough to own it.

    As for a caring attitude, there's nothing more important than that. As my clients will attest, I'm certainly not the most vocal of trainers, but every one of them knows how important they and their success are to me. That (and results) are why I measure my client life in years, not months, or even six weeks which is around the industry standard. Yet I see so many trainers that just obviously don't care about their clients. It's astonishing and sad.




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