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Egos, Goals and Agendas

We’ve all had the experiencing of everything being good-until it’s not. Call it what you want, but typically when entering into a new role, a new job, a new relationship -the need for change and a fresh start makes everything feel wonderful and new and exciting. Even the anxiety and doubt that may go along with change are overshadowed by the overwhelmingly positive feeling of “this is exactly what I need right now.”

The truth is, change IS good, and it probably IS exactly what you need right now but is it what you will need a year from now? Two years from now? I have been thinking about this phenomenon since taking a break from my gym and coach the last few weeks, and I have some thoughts. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. After my first personal training experience that lasted a little over 4 years, I was determined not to not let history repeat itself.


Maybe I was a little overly analytical with unrealistic expectations, and maybe I was being overly sensitive when the good began to be not so good, so I decided to take a break from my gym to see if I could get my mojo back. For about 2 years I have been feeling like there is something wrong with me. Am I annoying? Do I ask too many questions? Am I not strong enough? Fast enough? Do I not work hard enough? Am I not interesting enough?


In the last 3 weeks the rose colored glasses have come off and I feel like I am finally seeing things I refused to acknowledge and see before. It is not necessarily good or bad, it is what it is. Of course this is all based on my observation and perception-but perception is everything. After sharing my head struggles with my colleague, she finally said to me one day,

“You know it is an ego thing with trainers; most of them need to feel like they are responsible for some major transformation.”

Is this the reality? I refused to believe it until I experienced it. Four years ago my first personal trainer was so excited about my running and weight lifting and weight loss. He nudged me, and showed up at races, and cheered me on. He was the proud receiver of compliments about my transformation. He was my biggest cheerleader and advocate. I could ask a million questions and he took great care to explain everything to me. And then two years later when I was no longer showing drastic improvement, and I had run dozens of races including 5  half marathons, and I struggled with little overuse injuries every now again, he started seeming disinterested, bored and annoyed that he had to take time out of his day to work with me-even though I was a paying customer. There was nothing left to transform. I was just some middle aged woman paying him to work out and go through the motions. He tried to get me to change up my goals-to try something new so he could get excited about working with me again, but they were his goals, not mine.

Now nearly two years later, I have experienced a similar phenomena with a new coach at a new gym- although not to that extreme. When looking for a new coach and trainer I really only wanted someone who could teach me what I needed to do to stay fit so I could get stronger, run faster,  and be active and not put all my weight back on. I tried something new- small group personalized training. My new coach saw it as an opportunity and a challenge to teach me something new. The first six months were amazing-with blog and book recommendations, conversations about training technique and philosophy, goal setting, encouragement, curiosity and interest. I truly felt as if my plan was personalized and the coach took a personal interest in me-my goals, my strengths and weaknesses. But eventually that personal interest disappeared. I sprained my ankle, I decided running was my primary goal, and I wanted to use my own running plan, and suddenly my “personalized plan” felt like it wasn’t much different than  Saturday Boot Camp. When I asked for an assessment of my goals and accomplishments at the end of the year, my question was met with annoyance. When I walked into the gym to workout, I felt intentionally ignored, as if to avoid any question or conflict with what I felt to be a generic plan. The feeling I had was so similar to what I experienced a couple years ago I felt like somehow it was me. It was not me.

All around me average people showing up at the gym to work hard were met with smiles, warm greetings and encouragement. They were made to feel welcome and they were embraced as part of the community. I felt like an outcast. I was treated as if I had nothing left to learn. I felt as if I did not belong to the community; not this community. This community was made up of people who were trying to get in shape-not people who were trying to master squats and deadlifts and push jerks. This community was interesting and exciting and showing drastic transformation. This community fed the ego.



Maybe this was the gym I joined a year ago and I just didn’t see it at the time because it was new and I WAS learning and going through a major transformation. But what do you do when someone has transformed? As a teacher, the last thing you want to do is lose interest in a student who all of a sudden “gets it.” Someone who has spent a year learning how to take care of themselves and their body needs just as much attention as someone who is just learning. Without feedback and encouragement, it is impossible to maintain the new self. I understand it is not exciting to work with someone whose transformation may not be visible to the eye; I understand it is not as exciting to answer questions as it is to teach and show and tell. I understand I am never going to be an olympic lifter or power lifter or win any races. But I am still transforming myself. I am not dead yet.

So just like that, I have a renewed skepticism for personal training. 

  • First and foremost it is a business-personal attention goes to those who pay the most and can bring in customers
  • Is it really personal? It is so easy to prepare a plan and make it work for everyone, I am not sure how personal even a 1:1 plan is
  • the only way to get personal attention is to pay for it


So now every blog I read, every Instagram, Twitter and Facebook post I read I am acutely aware that personal training is a business above all else. And the business feeds off of people who feel they are not good enough at life. I am one of those people. I am now on a mission to feel better about myself and ironically, the first thing I had to do was take a break from the gym and my coach.



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