Why is it...

I have been asked, and I know of other trainers who have been told by their clients that they I aren't pushing them hard enough. To be honest, for my part it was a fair call. I wasn't pushing. I'd grown tired of the yard-stealing, corner-cutting, half-arsedness and wanted to test a theory.

So, I set up the opportunities to work or to coast. I won't be with you every time you train or every time you go to crack open a beer and a pizza. I am not your drill instructor. There are times when I will be, and that is fine. But we don't have the relationship where I can break you down to your component parts and build you back up. We could have, but you don't really want that! In what we have, if you choose to take the easy path every time you'll a) not get fitter and b) do the same when the chips are down and then you'll leave your teammates in the brown smelly stuff because you can't or won't do the hard yakka when it is there to be done.

There are those who we need to restrain, in the interests of them not fudging themselves up. There are those who listen to instruction and give all that they have to give. But then there are the people who want it on a platter. A magic wand, served with a flourish and somebody else to tap it on the tray and wave it over them because they couldn't possibly even do that for themselves.

Despite the multi-billion dollar diet and self-help industries, the sad truth is actually quite simple- for the most part, we know what we have to do, we just keep searching to find a way to have somebody else do it for us, so we don't have to change.

But that's human. The difference is whether you bitch about fairness or it being somebody else's fault or the universe somehow owes you...or not. And everybody is entitled to feel that way, every so often. But if that's the stock response, nothing will change. Bodyweight exercises will get you fitter, but you have to break a sweat. You can do intervals or endurance set up but either way you still need to break a sweat. And while the trainer can manipulate the work and rest set up, if you don't feed meat in the top, you're not going to get a sausage out of the front of the machine.

Periodically, trainers need to be called on what they are doing. We can be as susceptible to coasting or giving up on people as people are to giving up on themselves. I was asked once whether trainers will be accountable for the shoddy advice they give out. Possibly. They are now, to some degree. The instant accountability comes from market forces- if your trainer is not doing what you need them to do, call them on it and if that doesn't work, vote with your feet. It cuts both ways, if a trainer is confident enough in their ability to pay the bills, if their victim...sorry, client, isn't compliant, walk away. They're your advert. If you're investing your energy into it and they are walking around as your banner, how comfortable are you for that to be the case?

One of the really common issues is that neither party really clarifies what they want at the front end. If a client has a plethora of amorphous objectives (be good at my sport, get bigger, but not too big, lose weight etc etc) it's too easy to wheel out client programme no 3 from your notebook and call it good. We both know they won't stick it out past the fifth week anyway, right? Alternatively, a pt who is more used to working with focused performance driven clients, takes on one who just wants a bit of fun and doesn't know where they want to start. This could be a bit of mutual light relief or intensely frustrating, time will tell. The trouble is, no trainer is going to say at the off: "I want to turn up a couple of times a week, give you your copied sheet from my training book, and stand by you looking important in my polo shirt while you go through the motions and think I'm awesome". Equally, no potential client is going to pay a trainer and say "I want to keep giving you my money to turn up, get some of the frustrations of the day out of the way, have a bit of a giggle, but ultimately not do anything differently away from here, so that I can confirm my belief in my genetic predisposition/slow metabolism/whatever but use you as my 'but I have tried'". It might make things more entertainingly transparent but neither party honestly kicks off feeling or thinking that way!

Where am I going with this? I guess, it's like [insert sport name here] where a coach or manager loses their job because of on-field/ice performances. Or a CEO loses their job because of the work of their employees. We attribute an awful lot to leadership and yet, at its heart, work is done by individuals. Somebody has to bear the responsibility for those performances, and if you take that role, it is you. A good coach or leader will add huge amounts, just as a bad one can drag people down, but as individuals within that group we have power to influence outcomes in our own way. These are things that we do or do not. Yes, your coach should be held accountable, there are no free rides...but that is, and always should be, a two-way street.

And so we return to a recurrent theme for me...disappointment takes preparation. It means that you have thought about what you wanted, at some stage. As far as other people are concerned, I have a simple rule- you don't get to be disappointed in them if you have never given them the benefit of sharing that idea of what you want. If the time has come to walk away from something, that's absolutely your prerogative. But without that set-up, save your disappointment. Keep that emotion in reserve for something which deserves it!


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