There are a handful of things that annoy personal trainers. Pretty much anything that keeps a personal trainer’s client from reaching their goals will get on our nerves, such as:

  • cell phones
  • rejected workout plans
  • clients who cheat on their diets
  • constantly upset clients
  • wearing strong fragrances to the gym
  • clients that flirt with their trainer
  • clients who take their bad mood out on their trainer
  • the holidays
  • misleading food labels
  • chronic wardrobe malfunctions
  • communication problems
  • clients that show up late to a session

Cell Phones Interrupting Workouts

There are some clients that can look at their phone and put off answering a phone call or text message until the end of the session.

But then there are those who stop exercising in the middle of a set and shift all of their attention over to some situation on their phones. They leave their weights in the middle of the floor, have loud discussions that distract everyone, and bring their work/life right into the gym floor.

That’s why a prominent sign at the front of your gym with “LEAVE IT AT THE DOOR” will do you and everyone else in the gym some good.

Rejected Workout Programs

A lot of thought goes into making an exercise program.

Just think about it. A certified personal fitness trainer looked at your medical history, current fitness level and assessment results, carefully listened to your goals, and worked out a detailed method for you to go from Point A (where you are right now) to Point B (where you want to be).

This takes a consideration of the space and equipment on hand, and of the client’s strengths and what kind of exercise they like to do.

But to have every exercise questioned in the form of “Why are we doing this?” and “That big guy over there is doing the same thing, you want me to look like him?” and “My other trainer used to…”

All of this annoys a personal trainer to no end.

The truth is that, to a degree, we have to wait and see how your body responds to a certain stimulus (the exercise program). We can always shift directions. But who wants to tell their clients that they are guinea pigs? Tweaks here and there are always fine.

And during this time, we have to assume that you are following your diet plan 100%. Which brings me to my next point.

Clients Who Cheat on Their Diet

These can be roughest situations to deal with. The trainer is beating himself in the head wondering what is going on. The exercise program is going great, we’re seeing improvements in strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination and everything else good that comes from being physically active.

But the client isn’t losing weight. Sometimes they even gain weight.

At this point the trainer needs to sit down and talk to the client about how a gain in weight is likely due to a gain in muscle – we have to say the word “likely” because the testing methods aren’t accurate enough to give a straight answer and can be thrown off by drinking too much water.

I also say that these are the roughest because in most of these scenarios, the client is cheating on their diet. Not only are they cheating, but they are also often eating MORE than before they started exercising.

It takes a special set of communication skills to get a client to come clean on what they are actually eating. If you, as a personal trainer, are able to get your clients to talk to you openly, then you’ve made it in the communication department.

I’ve always been taught that personal trainers are in the “people” business, we just serve fitness. This is an example of it.

Constantly Upset Clients

Sometimes I’ll get an individual who says that we are doing to many weightlifting exercises. So, I’ll shift slightly over to a more cardio-based routine.

But then I get “You’re having me do too much cardio.”

I used to beat myself up over people like this because I had the silly idea that I could please everyone if I just gave them the right routine. Wrong.

You’ll run into clients who won’t be pleased with anything. These are the people who complain about every little thing at restaurants and can generally find anything to be mad about.

When you realize that you’ve signed up a client like this, find your own way to work with it. Different methods work for different people.

Wearing Strong Fragrances in the Gym

If anyone wears strong perfume in the gym, everyone else usually knows about it except the person wearing it.

Everything they touch smells like their own mix of sweat and perfume. Other clients don’t want to occupy the same space or touch machines that now smell. It is quite the distraction.

Personal trainers often have to have these silly talks with members of the gym about the amount of perfume they are wearing. I first did this when I was 20 years old. I had been a fitness trainer for three years and my boss wanted me to do it.

So, I went up to the 35-year-old businessman who had an ungodly amount of cologne on. We were on very good speaking terms, so it wasn’t too difficult to bring up an awkward subject. After asking about how he sprayed his cologne on, he told me that he takes his shirt before he puts it on and he sprays two full sprays directly into the shirt, lets it dry, then puts it on.

I told him that it was just me who noticed, but that it was my opinion that he was way overdoing it. The method I was taught was to spray it in the air in front of you and then walk through it. He was baffled. He said, “But can you even smell it when you do that?”

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation. The point is that we really jumped into the subject. He wasn’t being asked to stop using it, we were just talking a matter of technique and degree, which is much more palatable.

And I didn’t make him feel uncomfortable by saying something dumb like “People are saying you wear too much cologne.” Don’t ever do that. If it is coming from you, make it genuine and take responsibility for what you say.

Everything should come from a position of help. After a couple of weeks, he came up to me and said that his office staff had noticed he used less and complimented him on it. He thanked me for being frank with him.

Clients That Flirt With Their Trainers

This can be a big distraction and a liability. Once a trainer gets a reputation for being loose in that department, it follows him around. Best to change cities at that point.

But when clients (male or female) flirt with their trainers, it can just be awkward. Other members of the gym pick up on what is going on. Rumors start. The personal trainer needs the client because we are trying to pay our bills. The client is just playing with the personal trainer for some personal gain in whatever department they find themselves lacking.

A solution to this is to change trainers. It can be done smoothly or be done with an upset. Either way, if the person doesn’t stop once talked to about it, a swap of trainers should be done.

Keeping a space clear of these potentially bad situations is well worth the effort. Hell, you’ve even saved the client from potential harassment charges.

And if the person is really that bad, just end their contract and tell them that they are no longer going to be serviced at that facility.

Clients Who Take Their Bad Mood Out on the Trainer

This can be annoying for any personal trainer. It is especially bad when the trainer doesn’t have great communication skills.

At this point, I can generally get people to talk to me openly no matter what mood they are in. It took some time to develop those skills. But for a while, I had no clue what to do about people who were in bad moods and decided to take it out on me.

It manifests itself in clients who are there but refuse to communicate or even acknowledge you when you ask them something. Or they can explode on you and go on a crazy tirade. I’ve had both of those and everything in between.

99.9999% of the time it has nothing to do with the personal trainer.

You are an innocent bystander, and you are just the wrong target for this person’s rage. You can help them by not reacting negatively to it, carrying on through the workout, and by understanding that the person has had a rough day.

If it happens all of the time, just end it with the client. Usually, you can weather the storm and otherwise do nothing, and the client will thank you for putting up with them. They know they aren’t acting like a sane individual.

They want to be around people who aren’t put off by their bad moods. If you can do that, then you can eventually just snap them out of their bad mood, channel that energy towards a great workout, and help them achieve their fitness goals.

Besides, we all know that exercise is therapy.

The Holidays Are Not Good for Personal Trainers

Clients get distracted with family, friends, and social functions. This means that the trainer has a lot of random open hours throughout the day. It can also get weird if the client then asks to reschedule when the agreement is that they lose the training session if they miss it.

The dilemma that a trainer is put in is: Do I hold the policy firm and keep my money and risk upsetting them? or Do I keep the client happy and be a pushover?

In my experience there is a time and place for each scenario.

Sugar intake goes through the roof. Sweets, candies, treats, and all sorts of carbohydrate-loaded foods are considered “normal” and “traditional.” Unfortunately, our bodies don’t agree with high levels of sugar intake. Blood sugar levels and insulin levels get completely wacky, late parties mean less rest, and the alcohol intake leaves masses of people with headaches.

And, for some unknown reason, clients love to bring sweets into the gym. My team and I have always just laid them out along a counter near the entrance for a joke about how it is our job security.

Misleading Food Labels

I’ll often have to debug someone’s weight loss and find that they are eating something super high in carbohydrates/sugar that they thought was totally okay.

People have to look at their food labels. Just because quinoa is “the grain containing the highest levels of protein” doesn’t mean that it is a good source of protein. It just means that it has more protein than its friends.

If you’re a trainer, look at the bars that your clients are eating and take nothing for granted. If you have a personal trainer, let them look at the bars and make sure that they give it their okay.

Chronic Wardrobe Malfunctions

This can be a variety of issues.

Principle among them is having too little clothes on. This is a distraction no matter who is wearing it or whatever gender they belong to.

I have had a whole group of individuals stop working out just to look at a person of the opposite sex walking by or working out near them. That may have been the intent the whole time, but my goal is to get people through some awesome workouts.

Wear enough clothes. It isn’t a fashion show or a bodybuilding show.

Communication Problems

There are too many texts that “just didn’t make it through the network” and I smell some lying in the air.

Nowadays, we rarely have texts that don’t go through so that can’t be used as an excuse anymore. And when you’ve got your phone and smart watch, the excuse of “I didn’t see your text” doesn’t hold water.

Explain to your clients from the beginning that you are very good with your communication and whether it is an email, phone call or a text, they will get an answer back from you as soon as possible. Give them another route to get a hold of you by calling gym reception and having someone run you a message.

And then ask the client to uphold their part of the bargain by not ignoring you or not showing up without advance notice.

Clients That Show Up Late to a Session

There’s a certain class of people who will be late to anything, no matter when it is scheduled.

It’s usually about 15-20 minutes and they are late to everything by just that amount of time. If we could only reach inside and dial back their clock by 15-20 minutes, their lives would be so much better.

I do not know why this occurs in some people, but it happens and annoys trainers because we are actually personally invested in getting you through a fitness program and over to reaching your goals.

If you show up 20 minutes late, we’ve got to do the same work in 2/3 of the time.

Personal Trainers Will Go Out of Their Way To Help You

Personal trainers like to help people. You’d not be anywhere near the business if you didn’t like helping others.

The above list is not a rant and I’m genuinely not upset because there are solutions to each and every scenario. You may not fix it on the first try but keep working with the person to resolve whatever situation comes up.

Because we are trying our best to help you, it takes quite a bit to annoy us. If you’re with a trainer who has been around a long time, you’d be hard pressed to say anything that throws them off.

I’m putting this here so that new trainers know what to expect and so that clients know what to be aware of.

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