New to the fitness game I am not. I have worked in gyms, with gyms, with personal trainers, nutritionists, pole dancers, fitness instructors and most recently what appears to be commonly known as a “fitfluencer”. You know the ones. They pop up on your Instagram story showing you how they can eat pizza today because it fits into their macros and then show every possible angle of them doing a single exercise move.
But I figured I’d tried all the rest, why not her?
Full disclosure, I knew this woman before she got fit. Before the boob-job, before the lip injections, before the broken jaw and lashes and muscles. I’ve watched her set up her business, graft, study and work with clients.
The beginning of that sentence should have been warning enough but the end of the sentence gave me hope.
While her business name was a bit dubious surely her love for her craft was not. 6 weeks later I found out that she is indeed a pretty princess with no concept of what a coach actually does. She knew the science but not the client-facing aspects that we are actually paying for.
We can google macros, we can google workouts — they are the easiest and frankly least important aspect of your job. The thing that we can’t google is someone to ensure we actually implement the above.
So this letter is to her and any other fitfluencer who has the audacity to charge top rates for a sub-par service. Hopefully, anybody else in the industry will read this and understand something more about the client's side of the deal. And the prospective clients out there might feel heard and see what it is they’re looking for in a coach.
Because the reality is, you have to date your partner to figure out if they’re the right fit, you’ve to date your therapist too and when it comes to personal trainers they’re a dime a dozen so you may as well start speed-dating to make sure you’re not wasting your money.
Here are the facts
You’re shredded, we’re not. You have the get-up and go to get to the gym every day, we don’t. You have the knowledge of how the machines work and what muscles they work. Guess what… we don’t.
This is your life! Make no mistake, we could be just as shredded as you are if the only thing we had to do every day was workout and take pictures of ourselves.
We’re not stupid, we know enough
Let’s start here. Most of us know the deal. Energy expenditure, TDEE, calorie deficit etc etc. Certain amounts of protein, based on body weight, enough fats as needed and the remainder is carbs. 4, 4, 9. We get it. We’ve probably put enough research into losing weight that we could write a dissertation on it. We’re not stupid. Can that be put into your head?
Yes we have a life, yes we overindulge but we’re not stupid.
We want help
Can we take a minute to recognise that when we come to a personal trainer or nutritionist we want help? We know what we’re doing isn’t right and are smart enough to go to someone who is in the industry for help.
Generally, we want help with accountability, encouragement and information on the best way to implement the changes we’re trying to make.
There are a Lot of Changes
We have to change a lot. That’s why we’ve come for help. We probably have to start eating breakfast again, packing lunches, meal prepping, cooking dinners — some or all of which we haven’t done in a long time.
All this while also trying to fit X number of workouts into a week that we didn’t have time for previously and hitting the magic 10,000 steps a day. I’m not saying any of these things individually are hard. But changing a large number of things is taxing. Especially when coupled with a normal life. A busy, stressful life.
You’re supposed to work with that
Up until my most recent fitness instructor I have never been able to get what I wanted and yes I asked for it. I cannot do 4 sessions a week. It’s not sustainable for me. And yet instructors insist that 3–4 HARD sessions a week are the minimum. I get that you need your before and after results to post on Instagram but ultimately you won't get them because you’re leaving me feeling like a failure at the end of every week. Push me too hard and I will quit.
My shoulders ache, my kitchen is a mess and I can barely get the Big Mac I ordered to my mouth because I thought “fuck it, I’ve failed this week, what’s another shit show?”.
Chances are I won’t check in this week. I didn’t get all your workouts done and I definitely don’t want to tell you about my Big Mac, or the half-packet of cookies I demolished at work.
That’s when I need you to step in. To ask am I okay. Is there anything you can help me with. Don’t tell me your automated messages reminding me I didn’t do the workout I told you I wasn't able for are reminder enough.
Humans are creatures of habit
Forcing us to do something that is so far outside our comfort zone, a number of times that are too many, with the pain that ensues from owning limbs that have not been worked more than walking from here to the bus stop is not sustainable.
It’s now shown that working people too hard makes them stop. And yet you set us up for failure 3–4 times a week. Literally, “lift those weights until your arms cannot lift them even one more time”.
This is not fun. The progress is not worth the pain. I’m too new to this lifestyle to enjoy it.
This is your life
Your job is in the gym. You’re literally there every day. We normal folk don’t have all day to plan macro specific meals. We don’t just happen to be in a gym every day. It takes us extra effort on top of our lives to do this. We’re paying you to help us integrate it.
Most of all, we want you to understand
We want you to see when you’re pushing us too hard. When you’re expecting too much of us. We want to do what you’re asking. It’s shame-inducing when we can’t. Can you not just understand that we need to take it slower? Start small, give us a few wins. Let us build confidence instead of dragging ourselves to the gym thinking “I can’t do this”.
And I know not all personal trainers are like this but having been through the wringer so many times I’ve come to learn that a large majority of them are. And then when asked about us they say “she didn’t put the work in” or “she wasn’t committed enough”.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When you’re mad at yourself already for getting into this position not being able to do what you’re asking just compounds the horrible emotions.
I can’t do it anyway.
You have a responsibility
When you take a client on. You have a responsibility to them. We don’t set up a direct debit to feel like shit. We set up a direct debit hoping against all hope that you’ll take that responsibility seriously and treat us with respect. IF you don’t you lose your income and you’ll have to deal with the fact that you failed. Not me. I tried. I worked. I put my belief in you and your abilities to help me. You couldn’t live up to your own paid-for promises.