Personal fitness trainers sometimes need to take a day off. It is common practice to have another trainer help out. I actually promote this all the time. But there are some guidelines to follow when doing so.

A Personal Fitness Trainer’s Ability To Go Out of Town

As a trainer, it is difficult to take a day off, and especially anything like a week or more.

If you have a line whereby one or more trainers will take on your clients, then you can make this much more real and get that vacation time you deserve.

This is a great thing to develop and reinforce so that if you do end up having a medical or family emergency that takes weeks to handle, you don’t lose your entire business.

I’ve always pushed trainers to help and support other trainers. I’ve seen enough back and forth over “stealing someone else’s clients” when there are so many people outside the gym that we could be servicing.

It makes me want to start a movement in the profession to the tune of: “Stop the cannibalization.”

So in order to make elbows rub easier, here are some steps to make training other people’s clients safe and easy.

Get a Program and Stick to It

So let’s say your co-worker, Jimmy, is going out of town and hands you five clients to handle.

You need to ensure that Jimmy has a program written out for each person. When he gives it to you, read it from top to bottom. Once you have that program, stick to it. If he put it together in a rush, give it back to him and tell him to rewrite it so that it makes sense.

While this is for the client’s good, it’s not just for the client’s good. It is for your own liability. If the person gets injured under you and sues for gross negligence, it may help to have a well written program that you were following. You can then show that you were simply forwarding the usual trainer’s instructions and not doing anything out of the standard practice.

Skipping this one step is the biggest mistake that I see happen.

Collect All Data on Each Person

Then have Jimmy tell you any and everything he can about their abilities, injuries, tendencies and any other applicable information that will help you train his clients.

Some clients have doctor’s orders not to bend their knee past 90 degrees, or not to get their heart rates over a certain level or to keep all overhead lifting very light. These are things you need to know.

Get the information and don’t skip this step.

Preferably you should meet them before and have a good idea about who they are so that there are no surprises. It also helps smooth the transition socially.

Don’t Assume Anything

Now, don’t train the person Jimmy told you about. Train the person in front of you. You have your own powers of observation. Use them.

Ask the person, “Do you have any injuries or medical conditions that I should know about?”

I also always tell the person that this is their workout. They are in charge. There is none of this thought of: “Ignore the pain in my knee, the trainer knows what he is doing.” If they are experiencing pain, then tell me. Don’t work through it without telling me about it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started training someone new and what the other trainer told me was not quite right.

Don’t forget that the person in front of you is who’s paying. Don’t cause an unpleasant experience for them.

Talking About the Other Trainer

Okay, so the worst thing you could do for your business relations is to pick apart Jimmy’s training style or knowledge OR to go along with the client when they do.

Don’t contrast your training style with Jimmy’s. If the client says they prefer a specific training style, exercise or anything else, then tell Jimmy.

There are critical people in this world. Don’t buy into it and start talking crap about Jimmy. Highlight his good points and say how much you’ve learned from him and how much you both agree on.

The last thing Jimmy wants is for you to undermine his credibility.

If You Don’t Feel Comfortable Taking the Client On – Don’t

You need to know your own limitations in knowledge and ability to handle people.

Maybe Jimmy wants you to take on a person who has had cancer, massive chemo treatments, multiple surgeries and also is a bit wild and wants to lift the entire gym. That, for me, is a big red flag. Unless I am absolutely familiar with the person’s situation and I’m actively in touch with their doctor, I’m not going to touch that guy.

Maybe the person is a bit rude or disagreeable and has a history of causing scenes. Just refuse to help them. There are nice people in this world who deserve and will be thankful of your help. Train them.


My goal is to make this profession ethical and sustainable. You shouldn’t work your hands to the bone just trying to help people.

If we sort out some things among us trainers, then things can be better. I’ve seen more than my fair share of client-stealing and backstabbing.

It is one of those things where, if you don’t take proactive steps to squash it out of your gym, it’ll eat into your business.

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