10 Ways You Insult Your Personal Trainer Without Realizing It

Carly Pizzani | Dec 31, 2014 Healthy Living

Personal trainer with her client at the gymWhen you're working with a personal trainer, you often develop a friendly relationship with them. You see them when you're in a vulnerable state, they're working with you to improve areas of your life you may feel self-conscious about, and let's face it -- if you're going to be meeting at some horrendously early hour of the morning, you want them to be someone you don't hate being around. 

As a personal trainer, I can tell you we feel the same way. I've become friends with clients, and when your job is to push someone just past their comfort zone, it definitely helps -- it's maybe even essential -- to have a great rapport.

That's why it's such a slap in the face when a client says something rude or inappropriate. Make sure you don't offend your trainer by checking out these 10 things NEVER to say to your personal trainer -- your jaw will hit the floor when you read number five!!

Have you ever made one of these goofs?


Image via LajosRepasi/iStock

  • But You Seem So Smart!

    1

    As well as all the biology, kinesiology, anatomy, nutrition, and physiology that your personal trainer has to know inside and out, often trainers have changed careers to start working in the fitness profession. That means that there's a good chance the person who's whipping you into shape has a good, solid education behind them. So stop with the number one insult given to trainers in the form of faint praise: "You seem smart ... for a trainer."

    Lynda Lippin, a Master Pilates instructor and personal trainer based in NYC, says, "I have had people tell me, 'You seem so educated for a personal trainer!' That's when I tell them about my years as a Philosophy professor." 

    Stop with this one, already! Even if you do question their intelligence, do you really want to say that out loud to someone making you do lunges?

  • If It's So Easy, Why Don't YOU Try It?

    2

    If you're observing a training session from an outside perspective, it can seem pretty passive on the trainer's part. We're literally watching you while we order you around. Whereas in a group fitness class, the instructor does all the moves with you, if you've never trained before, it can seem kind of ... lazy ... for a personal trainer to just stand there.

    Before you turn to them, and snap, "How would you know how many more I can do? It's not like you're doing any of it!" think about this: The reason a group fitness instructor does the moves with you is because he or she has so many people to instruct. The easiest way is by showing them. Personal training is one-on-one, and the advantage is your trainer is watching your form, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your signs of fatigue carefully. If your trainer was doing the moves with you, you'd be throwing your money away.

  • But You Don't Look Like a Trainer ...

    3

    Everyone has a certain image in their head of what a personal trainer looks like, so when you meet your new trainer and don't see a rock-hard body that looks like it's carved out of stone, you may be tempted to mention it. One word -- DON'T. It's rude.

    As Cherie Hart Steffen, a trainer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, explains it, hearing from people that she doesn't look like a personal trainer is fairly common. "It will come from people who don't know my story or weight-loss journey. They automatically picture a She-Ra type and are shocked to find I know my stuff! I train with empathy because I've been in their shoes -- my non-washboard abs don't make me any less of a trainer."

  • Just a Little Off the Sides, Please

    4

    Sometimes, it's not that a client is rude to their trainer, it's just that they have unrealistic expectations about what personal training can do for them. 

    Personal trainer, yoga/Pilates instructor, and dance teacher Jenny Stulberg, who works in San Francisco, can recall countless times a client has responded with a certain body part when asked what their fitness goals are. "I've had people pinch one part of their body and say, 'I just want to lose weight in this one spot.' Right then, I know it's going to be a tough client, because spot training is the one thing no one can ever provide for you."

  • Making Milkshakes for Your Baby?

    5

    Sometimes people just say incredibly outrageous things. Maybe these people simply can't be helped. But if you're anything like the member of the gym personal trainer Tara Sabo works at, just don't. It's not funny, this is so rude it leaves me speechless.

    Tara recently had a baby and is back at work. In between client sessions recently, she decided to fit in a quick workout of her own. "While I was jump-roping, an older gentleman came up to me and said, 'Oh, that's nice of you to make milkshakes for your baby!' He knew that I'd just had a baby, but took it upon himself to assume I was breastfeeding. I literally had no response."

  • It's Not Me, It's YOU!

    6

    You want to lose weight, get stronger, and look amazing in that bikini? Of course you want to be healthy, but we get it. Everyone wants to look good, too. All we trainers ask is that you work hard with us, and you also don't throw it all away as soon as you leave our sight.

    It's only occurred a handful of times in my career, when a client won't see results and wants someone to blame other than themselves. Telling me I'm not doing my job or that I need to change their program because it's 'not working' is offensive. Especially if you work out with me once a week, and you've cancelled twice in the last month. Yes, that really happened. If you're spending money on a trainer, make it worthwhile for yourself by doing workouts on your own as well and eating an appropriate amount for your height, weight, and activity level.

  • I Don't Want to Get Bulky

    7

    "I don't want to get too bulky or big!" or "I don't want to look like a man." Um ... I know. You told me when we discussed your goals that you want to gain strength without getting big. I know you've read in fitness magazines or you've heard from celebrity trainers that you should only lift super-light weights because you're a woman, but guess what? That's crap.

    It would be almost impossible for you to bulk up or gain the kind of muscle and definition usually seen on bodybuilders unless you were eating an extraordinary amount of calories daily, were fastidious about your protein/carb/fat ratios, were training daily in a very specific fashion, and yup, I'm going to say it, were taking steroids or testosterone.

    Just because I'm having you deadlift or squat does not mean you will get bulky. In fact, building lean muscle through heavier lifting will actually help you burn fat by raising your metabolism.

  • So, You Come Here Often?

    8

    Your relationship with your personal trainer can be pretty intense. He or she is helping you achieve your goals, while you're dressed in Spandex, sweating. Many trainers know a lot of personal details about their clients, because they open up when they're in a session -- it's kind of like therapy.

    That doesn't mean it's cool to come on to your trainer, though. A male trainer friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous!) tells me, "It's so awkward when a client makes a move on you. I'm never expecting it, and it's always going to change the dynamic of our training relationship. It happens way more often than people would imagine -- from women and men."

    And if you think you're getting 'vibes' from your instructor, do yourself a favor and work with a new, professional personal trainer.

  • It's Just So EARLY!

    9

    Your trainer may or may not be a morning person, but either way, when we have early clients, we have to be friendly, professional, and ready to give you the best session possible. If my 6 a.m. client is a little quiet or grumpy, I totally get it, and I will give that client a little space until they feel more human. 

    But being outright rude, snapping, making snarky comments, then casually saying, "I'm sorry if I was a bitch, it's just so early!" does not make everything okay. It's disrespectful, and if it happens often, don't be surprised if your trainer tells you they can no longer work with you. 

  • I Have to Cancel, Because I'm Drinking Right Now

    10

    Cancelling on short notice because you're already out drinking is one of the most annoying things a trainer can hear from their client. What it says to us is that you don't take your session seriously, you don't respect our time, and you're probably not going to be in it for the long term. And don't even think about asking if we can waive the cost of your missed session!

    If it happens once and that's it, then I won't hold it over your head. But if it's at least a couple of times a month, then I have to weigh up whether it's worth putting the time and effort into writing your program and setting my own time aside for you. 

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