Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 Things That Suck About Personal Training

I typically reside on the positives regarding the personal training profession, but I have to admit, sometimes I like to give my readers a dose of reality. I've been doing it for years...telling it how it is, basically. Even in my book, Secret Skills of Personal Training, I've been accused of "trying to talk people out of entering the fitness field".

Truth is, I'm not trying to talk anyone out of this profession that I love. But I'm a big believer in making sure people know what they are getting themselves into. And my focus when speaking to new trainers or those contemplating becoming trainers, is to cover all the basics. Good and bad. You don't see that all too often nowadays, as everyone across every social network tries to paint a wonderful life. In reality, they find themselves living life compromised at times. 

I put together  a compilation list of 10 things that suck about personal training. Hopefully, those of you that have been in the field for a while will get a  laugh, or possibly a nod of affirmation. But those of you that are contemplating entering the field or have recently entered not be afraid!

1.) Getting up at 5:30am for a client sucks. As much as you love fitness or love to motivate people, you are not going to have a good night's sleep every night; nor be as energetic as you think you are for your 5:30am client. Go to bed early? Sure...just stop thinking about waking up in a few hours and possibly your anxiety will allow you to get some Zzzzz's....

2.) People that try to get free advice suck. It's happened to me countless times. During my commercial gym days, I had so many gym members ask me for some advice--without wanting to pay me. The good man that I am, I gave them "some" advice to satisfy their hunger in hopes that they will pay for more. It never happened on many occasions.

3.) People steal your exercises! During my commercial gym days, I can remember seeing gym members on the floor using or trying a new exercise that I was just demonstrating to a paying client. Granted, no exercise is belongs to one person; but the client is paying for individualized programming. When a gym onlooker is simply copying an exercise because it looks cool, the rationale behind the selection is missing and cheapens the service. 9 times out of 10, the thief is doing it all wrong anyway!

4.) You learn to eat solid food in under 2 minutes or less. Yes, if you are a busy-enough have to eat your '5 to 6 small meals' in between client sessions. I have literally learned how to "inhale" my food and move on to the next client without getting anything stuck in my teeth.

5.) Touching sweaty people sucks! Yes,  there are times when you are coaching clients you have to touch them to direct a certain limb, movement, or direction. At times, they can be very sweaty--almost wet and you have to touch them. Albeit times,  you have to stretch them! Make hand soap and disinfectant your friend!

6.) People challenge you to various physical feats. If I had a dollar for every time someone challenged me to a race, a bigger bench press, a higher jump, a marathon time, a smaller waist, a bigger squat, or the most chin-ups...I would own at least 10 facilities. Truth is, people--including your own clients--assume that if you are a trainer you are always "on". They don't understand that like their bodies, our bodies take a beating day in and day out; need a warm up; need relaxation, and need maintenance--so we are not always capable of  conquering every physical feat under the sun simply because we are fitness professionals. Get us on a day when  we are warmed-up, mentally ready, and wearing chalk and its a different story!

7.) Listening to people make excuses for themselves sucks.  I am amazed at the energy put into   creativity when it comes to making excuses for being late, lazy, not complying with a diet, workout, or missing a workout. Tolerance and patience will become very valuable to your practice.

8.) Knowing a client is a waste of your time, but is money in the bank sucks. Not all trainers work with ELITE athletes. We'd love to all work with people that "get" fitness and performance. But for the most part, 85% of trainers work with normal Joe-Schmoes. When you own your own business or have to make the numbers for the month or the boss will get on you is the reason why we keep them around....and that sucks.

9.) Being pressured to make sales or sell supplements sucks. Don't believe in the latest Techno-STACK-77? Too bad, it costs $69.99 and you have to make quota this month. Managers that sit in their offices crunching numbers all day simply look at your clients as dollar signs. That sucks.

10.) Training clients when they sneezing, coughing, and sick, sucks! I don't like to get sick. It sets me back and robs me of life. But when clients don't understand this and show up to a sessions with a running nose and sore throat--it is annoying. If you want to be sick, fine. But don't make me sick in the process!

Not so bad of a list, right? Every profession has a top 10 list. However, what I want to point out is that the perception that people paint is not always 100% accurate. It is a REAL profession that deals with REAL circumstances. I believe that any job that you love is the "best job in the world". Personal training is not an absolute walk-in-the-park....but it is what you make of it. The better prepared you are for the good and the bad, will help you make it the best job in the world!


  1. #6! I have this one guy who is ALWAYS challenging me to some feat. I am sure he wouldn't do that with 99% of the women at the gym. But because I am a trainer...and he does it while I am training clients! Just one week ago he came in my bootcamp while I was teaching and challenged me. I told him to either pay and participate or get out. He then told me in front of my bootcampers that he was in the ARmy and this is not how a real bootcamp was. Little did he know I was also in the Army as well. But this is a gym...not the military. If I ran my bootcamp like my drill sgts did when I was an 18 yr old in the service, I would injure someone. Anyways, the list hits home. That and the 530 am clients!

  2. Most of these ring true but I definitely wouldn't trade my job for anything else!

  3. Good stuff, John. Very good indeed.

  4. #1!! As much as I LOVE my early morning group sessions (they're probably my fav), I long for every weekend so I can sleep more.

  5. What job does not have 10 things you hate about It? Have you ever had to defend your numbers to a CEO every three months? Its great when you are on plan but when your off its a painful experience. How about taking the train into NYC everyday when you leave the house at 6:30 a.m. and get home at 8:15 p.m. every night........I could go on but I won't. If your going to write about your profession than write about the positive things and let everyone know the top things they can expect that are less than ideal.

  6. Hey Anonymous, If you read the last paragraph, I acknowledge that every job has a "top 10" list.I'm sorry you hate being a little pee-on that rides into NYC everyday working for corporate America--but I'm sure you love that salary?? Buzz off Assh*le!

  7. John, I loved what you said to Anonymous! Been a trainer for 7 years averaging 7 clients a day, and I REALLY NEEDED to hear your 10 Suck things. Made me feel sooo much better knowing other trainers out there feel the same way, especially you! THANK YOU for making my day.

  8. SPOT ON!!!! Emphasis on waking up early 5:30ish and worse is if they no show!!!


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