I ran the best race of my very short running career on Sunday, and achieved a new half marathon PR, and accomplished one of my running goals for 2015. If not for a severe calf cramp when I tried to sprint for the finish, I might have surprised even myself with my time. I knew I could do it, but it was bitter sweet not being able to share it with one of the persons who helped me accomplish that goal-my coach and personal trainer.
After 3 1/2 years of working together to help me achieve my goals, two days before the race he decided he was no longer the right person to help me achieve my goals. I am still not sure he is right about that, considering what I have been able to accomplish, but the fact remains, he thinks we have a very different outlook on fitness and life.
I wish he regularly read my blog. If he had, he would know we are more alike than he realizes.
Maybe he will decide to check out my blog again some day, so this is for him and any other personal trainer out there who may frustrated with a client:
- Be clear about what you can help your client achieve; do not make them think anything is possible
- Write things down; you cannot possibly remember everything you say and at some point you will contradict yourself and send mixed messages
- Set boundaries; be friendly, but do not act like a friend; friends are there for you 24/7; if you do not want to be accessible any time, any day, then set “office hours.”
- Do not rely on electronic communication to relay important information; if you receive a text or email from a client, let them know you received it, and ask to speak in person to clarify its meaning
- Be careful about encouraging long term relationships-naturally there will be ups and downs-instead, recommend 6-12 week training periods and then a break with a plan for your client during the off-training cycle.
- Be professional when it feels like the working relationship is no longer benefitting your client; this is not about you; you are a service provider, the benefit you are recieving is cash. If your client is taking up precious training slots that you would prefer to spend with more challenging, elite athletes, then be honest and up front.
- When the relationship has run its course, the best case is for a mutual agreement to terminate the services so there is a plan to move on to a new trainer or gym; offer a transition workout plan and recommmendations; remember, your client may have had a solid routine of working out 2x week for several months or years, with a trainer by their side. If you sever the relationship without warning, you are essentially tossing them overboard without a life preserver, which goes against everything a personal trainer should stand for.
- When the relationship ends, feel grateful, be grateful and act graciously. The last thing you want is a former client sharing negative feelings about the experience.
So there it is, I spent the weekend feeling like I was drowning; a few folks have tossed me a life raft, and I am paddling toward shore. I want to believe this huge life change will be for the better, but only time will tell. Sometimes the universe has bigger plans.