Q: How do I tell people their form sucks, they are wasting their time, they are probably going to hurt themselves, and they need a personal trainer to show them how to design a proper workout and perform it effectively, without being a douche-bag?
My gym consists of mainly 16-22 year old males with big ego and very little fitness knowledge. We also have quite a few baby boomers looking to lose some weight and feel young again. There are a couple trainers here that are into cross-fit and train every client with that style. It pains me to watch some of their clients limping out of the group fitness room. My approach to training is much like your FOCUS system. I like to use the complex movements like the squat and deadlift as gauge and help me figure out what my client needs to address in order to perform these movements optimally.
I feel like when I try to help people with their program design or form they get slightly stand-offish and brush my advice to the side. I try to be sincere with my approach but it is like they either don’t care or they are just comfortable with what they are doing? What are your experiences with this as I am sure you have had a similar occurrence.
Thanks again for your help Jon, you have been an awesome resource and I strive to be a figure much like yourself one day. Can’t wait for the new book!
A: You really have to gauge each individually. My favorite approach is to earn their respect and friendship first. The way that you describe the situation makes me think that there’s nothing you can do while you’re wearing a trainers shirt.
People like this are ego-driven (as you alluded to) so you have to be really careful not to make them feel embarrassed. The best piece of advice I can give you is to give them an opportunity to show off what they know.
Do it while you’re working out and ask them for a spot. Maybe even ask them to show you the exercise they were performing. Allow them to gain the position of authority (or at least feel they have it). Let the relationship develop over time. When you see them in the gym the next time make sure you remember their name and say hi. Keep following this for a while. They’ll know you’re a trainer.
Then and only then will you have the opportunity to help them. They may approach you and complain of aches and pains or you may choose to offer up advice once they’re a buddy of yours.
The most important piece to your success is that you’re the most popular trainer in the gym. Don’t ever forget that. People buy trainers, not training. Figure out a way to get the person to like you first, then educate them second.
Hope that helps,
How would you handle the situation? Comment below.