We've all been there. We're leaving the date, the meeting, the job interview, whatever, and we think of something we wish we would have said. Something that is so obvious now that you're thinking of it, but just didn't cross your mind. It happens all the time, at least to me, and often all I can do is to hope for a chance to mention it the next time.
Of course we all know someone who has no issue with it, but many people find talking about themselves to be difficult. When you're in a consultation with a new or potential personal trainer, that's exactly what you've been asked to do, in detail, about a topic you may not exactly love discussing. There were times in my life when french fries were a part of most meals, and when carrying my guitar amp ALL THE WAY to the car was considered exercise. I don't always enjoy talking about that stuff, and as a result it tends to make me leave out the details of some of my other, more important obstacles.
During a consultation, and even after that, a good trainer is asking you questions to get a picture of who you are, where you are now, and where you want to be. They aren't judging you, but they do need to know certain details so that they can help you be the version of yourself that you want to be.
With that in mind, here are a few things that you absolutely must tell your personal trainer. Some of these will seem obvious, but they are all examples of things that have been left out by clients in the past.
This is first on the list because there is a reason you decided to hire a trainer in the first place. Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, be better at playing softball on the weekend with your buds, you need to let your trainer know. While this seems like a no-brainer, clients often leave out specifics which could be crucial in developing a truly personalized workout plan. Also, keep in mind that your goals will change over time. Have you recently became engaged and are thinking about fitting into a dress? Did your friend sign you up for a 10km run, and its only 3 months away? They can't help you achieve your goals if they don't know what they are.
Almost all of us have dealt with some sort of injury in the past. A sprained ankle, a broken collarbone, whatever it is, these are things your trainer needs to know about. Even if it's an old injury that doesn't cause you pain now, starting a new exercise regimen can cause things to flare up again, and your trainer needs to be prepared for this. It's also common for clients to have chronic, nagging pain that they've become used to, and therefore neglect bring up in a consultation. It is important to mention this as well, since a good trainer can help you work with your pain and may be able to help you work past it.
We don't all like the same type of exercise, and there may be exercises you really don't want to do. Ever. This is the type of thing you have to tell your trainer. Maybe you saw an interesting thing on TV and want to try it. Maybe you find that pushups put too much strain on your wrists. Maybe you absolutely LOVE doing burpees. That's all fine, but if you keep it to yourself you can't expect your trainer to know about it! One thing bears mentioning though; it is important to know why you want to avoid a certain exercise. If you don't like holding plank because it's hard, then it's time to suck it up. However, if it hurts your back, you have a case for modifying the exercise or doing a different move that targets the same muscles.
For many of us, the path towards a healthier lifestyle is uncharted territory. With so much information out there about health and wellness, there are concerns that will arise when we are considering working with a personal trainer. People frequently worry that weight training will make them look bulky (it won't), that they'll have to quit smoking (ideally they would), or that they won't be able to enjoy eating their favourite foods anymore (in moderation, of course they will). Your concerns might be related to finances, to chronic pain as mentioned above, to time constraints, or to anything else. Just ask! It likely won't be the first time the trainer has been asked that question, and even if it is, your concerns are important and deserve to be addressed.
Your trainer is not just there to make you sweat, or to tell you to do one more rep, they are there to be your cheerleader as you work towards your goals. If you decided to skip the muffin at breakfast, or you went to check out a spin class with a friend, or your pants from a few years ago fit for the first time since, well, a few years ago, I promise you that your trainer wants to hear about it! Nothing is more rewarding than a client who is seeing results, so share them as much as you want, no matter how small you think they are.
The most important thing to remember is that your trainer is there for you. They are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, and a good trainer relies on the information you provide in order to make your workouts safe, fun, and as effective as possible. Your feedback is extremely important to a good trainer, so be sure to speak up early and often.
Ryan Casselman is a personal trainer, musician, and the founder of Real Trainers. Stay tuned as he finds out what he's going to write about each week or so!