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Although I’m a technical writer, I also earn a decent living as a part-time personal trainer. It’s what I enjoy doing because it gets me away from the desk and moving around.
I have a list of loyal clients, many of whom have been with me for a decade or so. I’m grateful, but what I find interesting is this:
I tell all of my clients that I cannot help them. Yet year after year they continue to pay me nearly $100 per session.
It is no hiding that most potential clients come to me with one goal in mind: lose fat and get lean.
Well, it took me several years to realize that there was no exercise I can prescribe within my scope of practice as a personal trainer that could help them achieve their goal. In short, I cannot help them lose weight. And I make that clear.
What I tell them, though, is that exercise (particularly resistance training) may improve their health: it can increase insulin sensitivity, regulate their glucose, and improve their mood. It builds muscle and may give their bodies some shape. Exercise may also help them prevent weight or fat gain.
But, exercise will not help them lose weight.
Only eating better and eating less can help them lose weight. Plenty of evidence suggests this.
They understand. And amazingly, this up-front disclaimer and honesty has made my personal training service more valuable to them.
First, it addresses the ambiguity and misinformation so prevalent in the fitness industry: selling people the false hope that exercise causes weight loss, which encourages them to rely on exercise and half-ass their diet.
Second, telling them the facts will effectively remove the exercise-weight-loss BS so that they can finally accept that they are indeed accountable for their eating behavior.
Otherwise, you’ve seen it: clients paying their personal trainers to baby-sit them with hours of cardio, or to beat them to pulps using strength-and-conditioning methods meant for elite athletes, yet they look the same month after month, year after year.
I believe that personal trainers must first devalue themselves as weight-loss experts, in order to increase their value as health and fitness professionals.