It has been 5 years since I began working with a personal trainer; it is amazing to me what I have learned and what I am capable of in a relatively short time, yet 5 years is literally thousands of hours, maybe millions of pounds lifted, and unwavering commitment and determination on my part to keep progressing-to get stronger, faster, and more powerful. I should be happy and proud of my accomplishments, but instead after a year and a half I am still feeling the negative affects of a trainer who just didn’t want to work with me any more. It has negatively affected my self esteem and my ability to feel confident in the gym without feedback and attention.
I have high expectations, but I do not have unreasonable expectations. Yet, time and time again I find myself holding back sharing how I feel for fear of being over bearing or needy. I guess if I am at a gym that claims it coaches you through every session, that is what I expect. I expect coaches to watch me and provide feedback throughout the hour session-every time. But if it is not happening, I will not speak up for fear of appearing to have unreasonable expectations.
Expectations: Assessment and Feedback
I expect a quick assessment of how I am feeling when I walk into the gym. But more importantly, I expect feedback. The key to learning is receiving just the right feedback. Giving feedback is an art and a science that requires careful, consistent observation. The art of giving feedback can mean the difference between learning and engagement and simply going through the motions. Feedback should not be reserved for the beginner, but it can be difficult to provide just the right feedback in a room full of students, with everyone at different levels, doing their own thing.
Receiving feedback is even more valuable for the coach! Feedback is necessary for proper planning, programming and individualization. When you don’t take time to observe and coach, you don’t receive the feedback necessary to properly plan and individualize programs.
How do you give everyone just the right feedback?
It is easier said, than done.
- Strive for consistency. By starting each session the same for everyone, you are setting the expectation and goal for the session. If you physically cannot greet everyone showing up by name and check in with them when they walk into the room, there is the potential of creating an exclusive environment, the perception is that some people matter more than others.
- If it is an extremely busy session or if you have new students walking in the door, or you have booked a 1:1 session with someone let the “regulars” know you will not be observing them and providing constant feedback during the session, unless they need something. Let them know what you expect. Even saying, “come see me and check in with me” let’s them know it is okay to interrupt for moment. That little bit of communication before things get started will make a world of difference. After all, coaches, trainers and teachers are human and can only do so much in an hour.
- As well, if it is an extremely busy session, keep chit chat and social talk to a minimum, if you cannot observe and provide coaching and feedback to everyone, the last thing you want is to have someone overhearing a social conversation with another student or colleague when you should be coaching.
- Make sure you keep track of who you work with during each session; it is easy to forget, especially if there are students who need more attention showing up at the same session every week. You need to make sure you get around to everyone regularly so we don’t feel like we have fallen through the cracks.
- Check in with everyone before they leave, some of us will not interrupt without an invitation to do so; again, be explicit by asking your student to come see you before they leave. You want to know how people are feeling before they leave. Do not assume everyone will feel okay with that. During an especially busy session where observation and feedback are not possible, it is especially important to know how people feel when they leave.
After 5 years, I have learned a lot but I am still learning. I am not done yet. I have a hard time just showing up and going through the motions, so my goal is always to give 110% effort every time I walk into the gym. I need to know if it matters. I need to know how to improve. I need feedback. I show up to be coached; if I am not going to be coached I might as well stay home.