Personal training/Coaching is the best job in the world. You (eventually) get to set your own hours, your job “requires” you to be fit (and who doesn’t like to be fit?), you can choose to work outdoors if you like, you get to wear comfortable clothes to work (you can only appreciate this if you had to wear suit and a tie to a retail job as a college student), you can even get to work with a world class athlete or a celebrity (very unlikely but, you never know).
Your job is the most important job in the world (if you don’t trust me just ask coach Martin Rooney) and the most rewarding since you get to change/save people’s lives, watch your clients/athletes do things they never thought possible and have them tell you that the training session with you is the best part of his/her day. You get to establish relationships that can last lifetime. Did I say YOU get to change people’s lives?
Now, I know you may have heard this before, or these may be exactly the reasons why you chose this profession, but I do not want to give you advice on any of these points. I want to talk about a potentially unpleasant situation. I want to talk about the day when you have to end the professional relationship with a client/athlete.
Most of the time it is a client/athlete who decides to end the professional relationship with the trainer/coach, and that is usually not a big deal. As a trainer/coach you need to understand that he/she are paying for services (they are the boss) and that you provide services (you are the employee) and if he/she are not satisfied with your services (for whatever reason) he/she can choose to terminate your services (fire you). Pretty straight forward, at least I think it is.
On the other hand, every once in while, you, as a trainer/coach, may have to end a professional relationship with a client/athlete. That can get a little interesting. “Why would you ever want to do that,” you may ask.
Here are some reasons that you may not (as of yet) be aware of:
a) He/she needs someone with a different set of skills.
There comes a time when a trainer/coach can no longer help a client/athlete. He/she may need something different than you can offer to him/her. If you, as a trainer/coach, realize this, it would only be fair to the client/athlete to end the professional relationship and not hold on just for the sake of the paycheck.
b) He/she no longer trusts your ability to help him/her out (even you help him/her achieve things he/she never thought possible)
If you constantly get questioned about everything you ask your client/athlete to do, or if he/she has doubts that your plan is going to work, or he/she is not following the instructions you give him/her, then you have to ask yourself “Why work with a client like that?” Or better yet, ask him/her why would he/she want to work with you?
c) He/she suffers from a case of FADD* (Fitness Attention Deficit Disorder) *This is my own term for the people who don’t know exactly WHAT is it they want to achieve, and it is not a legit medical disorder.
If your client/athlete constantly changes his/her goals to the point where you really can’t have a plan for him/her and you have to start over every other week, you may consider explaining to him/her that he/she needs to focus on one thing at time. The only other fair option to both parties involved is that you, as a trainer/coach, end that professional relationship because you’ll never help your client/athlete achieve his/her constantly changing “goals”.
d) He/she demands way too much of your attention as if you don’t have any other clients or personal life, weekends, vacations etc.
This may be your own fault simply by not establishing boundaries. When you first start working with someone you want to be there for him/her and you tell him/her to call/text/email you at any time and you get back to him/her ASAP. This can backfire in the long run; simply because once you start to have more and more clients, you will have less and less time for each client, and, in order to be fair to all you should give everybody the same level of attention. Establish “work hours” and set a specific quantity of emails/texts/video chats per week a client can send you in order to avoid this issue.
When you first end a relationship with a client he/she may think that you are giving up on him/her, that you don’t care, or that you are not being professional, but in fact, it is completely the opposite. At first he/she may be angry with you. He/she may even say some negative things about you (thank you, social media), and about your “lack of professionalism”.
Don’t let it bother you! Don’t take it personal!
It may take a little while before he/she realizes that you, as a professional, made a decision which was in his/her best interest. Who knows, maybe down the road he/she may even thank you for changing/saving his/her life, for being the best part of his/her day and for all the things you helped him/her achieve. Things they never thought possible.