The Right Personality for Your Personal Trainer

Written By David Johnston

I have worked in commercial gyms for years now, and have watched every sales tactic and technique imaginable when it comes to personal training. Often times, a new client is presented with a questionnaire asking about their preferences regarding a personal trainer– “Would you prefer a disciplinarian type, or an empathetic type?”

I always thought the question was the silliest question in the world– until I started watching other personal trainers with their clientele.

See, here’s the deal with personal trainers: they are typically commission-only. Which means, when they’re not training a client, they are making no money at all. Which means they are intensely interested in acquiring a client in the first place, and by all means never offending that client.

We are taught in the sales world to “never say no”– if you want to close a sale, you should always be cheerful, agreeable, and always tell the client what they want to hear, even if you later have to modify it to something slightly different. And most personal trainers approach their new clients in this manner: they are passive, borderline fearful of offending the prospective client, for fear that they won’t close the sale. And then once they have that client, they are afraid to be blunt, to “tell it like it is”, for fear of losing the client.

But here’s the problem: you are hiring a trainer. This means, you are seeking out guidance and leadership from a qualified professional to help take you to a level of health and fitness you admittedly can’t get to on your own.

Can you imagine sending your children to a teacher who backed down her expectations every time the child said “It’s too hard”, for fear of discouraging the child? Can you imagine employing a teacher for your child who was more concerned with being the child’s friend, than the child’s instructor? Of course not! You would run screaming from a teacher like that. Why? Because a teacher’s job is to hold your child accountable, have high expectations, and help elevate them to the next level of knowledge.

The same is true with personal training. You want somebody with a strong personality, somebody who is smart (maybe a little too smart), somebody who will call you on your BS, somebody with high expectations, somebody who holds him or herself to a ridiculously high standard. This will help to elevate you to the next level, even if it’s a bit painful (and trust me, it will be– if it was simple and pain-free, you’d already be in great shape, and not spending hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer!).

So when hiring a trainer, do yourself a favor and look for the meanest, most brutally honest trainer in the gym. Yes, it will sting a bit, but at the end of your sessions, when you actually have the body and health of your dreams– along with the self-esteem that you earned in the process– you will come back and thank me!


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