Good question, right? The answer lies within another question: How successful do you want to be with your goals?
I find it interesting that clients come to me with their goals but fail to divulge some of the most important pieces of information that can really make or break their progress. The same issue can occur when it comes to measuring their progress. If I don’t know the full story, then I can’t help change habits or formulas for them to reach their goals.
For instance, more than once I have had clients make zero progress over several months. When inquiring about their nutrition, they tell me they have been dead-on with their food journal, they are getting all of their workouts in and there is nothing they can think of that should prevent them from reaching their goals. This leaves me feeling perplexed, a little frustrated and sometimes inefficient as a professional trainer. Meanwhile, down the road I find out through a sheepish confession (or pics that pop up on Facebook) that they were drinking with friends every weekend, turning cheat meals into cheat days or not getting all of their macros in.
Although I have personally gotten past the fact that many of my clients do not disclose some of their pitfalls, I believe the first issue is that it is important to be honest with yourself. There is a reason we choose to use a coach or trainer for accountability. So not communicating our habits and downfalls does not benefit us at any level. We cannot change habits we do not admit to.
So what if you don’t trust your trainer enough to share certain pieces of important information? Then you probably don’t have the right trainer. It doesn’t matter how good the trainer is at workouts or how much experience they have; if you don’t trust them or feel they are not the right personality fit, you won’t get the best experience you pay for.
I fully believe I am not the right trainer for everyone. I do not believe in quick fixes or magic pills. I don’t sugarcoat the information or make people think that not trying is OK. But I do try to meet my clients at whatever level they are starting at and do my best to breathe belief into them. I want them to know that they can accomplish their goals if they want them badly enough and are willing to put forth the work.
Important tips in communicating with your trainer:
- Make sure your trainer knows about past and present injuries and illnesses. In order to avoid more injury or really messing something up internally, it’s important your trainer knows enough about your history. Not everything is relevant, but it is never my goal to hurt or exacerbate a former injury. And sometimes I will need to do research in order to know how to best proceed.
- Realize that there is a mental and emotional side to health and wellness. While it is not appropriate to tell your trainer EVERYTHING, it does help us to know when you are under a significant amount of stress in your personal or professional life. (Be aware that not every trainer is willing to address this side of health and wellness.)
- It’s OK to fall down and your trainer should understand and be willing to help you get back on track. Even as trainers we have bad days, eat our feelings or fall off the wagon. My goal is to help my clients learn from these experiences and find ways to deal with such a situation with better tactics. And never should your trainer make you feel guilty. We all do enough of that to ourselves.
- Do not make your trainer feel like it’s their fault when you know you aren’t being truthful. Communication should be a two-way street. Our job is to educate and problem solve. But it takes two in this relationship. To do my very best to help you, I need to know what I’m missing.
- Not every trainer is right for every goal. If your goal is to learn powerlifting, be sure to go to someone with that expertise. If your goal is to radically change your health, go to someone who understands that multiple life aspects will need to be involved (nutrition, habit changes, stress reduction, etc.)
- Don’t expect miracles. And don’t expect not to put forth some effort. Making uncomfortable changes WILL be necessary. If it were easy, you would have already done it yourself.
The trainer may lead the process, but you lead your goals. Be your own best advocate, be truthful and real with yourself!