PERSONAL TRAINER RESPONSIBILITIES: Keeping it professional or does a personal component enter in?

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 14, 2012 5:03 PM GMT
    So I was on the phone with another RJ member who was talking about his personal trainer and the fact that he (the RJ member) made a mistake in
    making the trainer "a professional" and a friend. We got into a discussion that
    there are probably many trainers that, while focusing on the training at hand,
    can become sort of a "personal sounding board" for some clients, meaning that those clients might be comfortable with sharing (and getting feedback) from the trainer about various parts of the client's personal life.

    A trainer friend of mine concurred, saying that he's like "a amateur counselor" in some cases.. using a "listening talent" as much as giving out training advice.

    I'm just curious about how you guys feel about this. I am making no judgements.
    I personally view the trainer as a professional and he or she has a job to do, but I think that personal interaction is going to happen and in fact, a comfort level may be part of what the clients react to.

    What are your thoughts... and what have you seen?
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    Jul 15, 2012 4:29 AM GMT
    I see no problem with becoming friends with your trainer. I have mine on my Facebook and we talk very casually with each other about a wide array of topics. I think I'd avoid any type of romantic or sexual feelings, though.
  • ATXnative

    Posts: 240

    Jul 15, 2012 4:45 AM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidSo I was on the phone with another RJ member who was talking about his personal trainer and the fact that he (the RJ member) made a mistake in
    making the trainer "a professional" and a friend. We got into a discussion that
    there are probably many trainers that, while focusing on the training at hand,
    can become sort of a "personal sounding board" for some clients, meaning that those clients might be comfortable with sharing (and getting feedback) from the trainer about various parts of the client's personal life.

    A trainer friend of mine concurred, saying that he's like "a amateur counselor" in some cases.. using a "listening talent" as much as giving out training advice.

    I'm just curious about how you guys feel about this. I am making no judgements.
    I personally view the trainer as a professional and he or she has a job to do, but I think that personal interaction is going to happen and in fact, a comfort level may be part of what the clients react to.

    What are your thoughts... and what have you seen?


    I'm a personal trainer, and though i only encourage my clients to share their life with fitness. I have talked about various other personal things, and am sort of a life coach to some clients.. though they may be 10-20 years older than me. Depends on lot on their personality and self confidence level.

    My boss, owner of my studio, also gay... he has a degree in psychology and I think his clients (mostly women) use him very much as what you describe.

    It's part of the job.
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    Jul 15, 2012 5:21 AM GMT
    My trainer is barely old enough to drink. He/girlfriend are nauseatingly cute. I'm out to him with a mind block against "checking him out".

    I share personal aspects of my life only if I can spin humor into it. I'm doing a machine pec fly to exhaustion. He's ready do negative reps by standing directly in front of me. "head up, chin straight, stop squinting". Ok...I'll stare at your chest if you insist. icon_rolleyes.gif

    For my posture and lack of core strength/balance problems, I need a physical therapist more than just a trainer. All three trainers I've had at 24hr fitness I would describe as gifted in this aspect.

    I need psychological help as much as anyone else. If you have a connection with your trainer, you will be motivated to choose them again in the future and keep using them. Nothing to gain by giving them the impression I do anything but work hard.

    Have a coworker who invests heavily in friendships so he can slack off with impunity. I have to piss him off so he will shut up and focus so I am not trapped in the middle of a personal conversation.
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    Jul 15, 2012 5:34 AM GMT
    In Manhattan I was always flabbergasted by relationships I've observed between trainers and their clients. Just as golf gives you several hours of access to someone you'd otherwise barely get to see, a personal trainer is an authority figure to and has the undivided attention of very important people for at least a few hours a week and, I suspect, a smart opportunistic trainer can make quite a living or career off these connections. For their part, VIPs who would otherwise be in charge both cede control to their trainers and treat them as they would hairdressers, telling them things publicly that they'd probably never even relay to anyone else privately. More than once I've actually overheard high ranking company executives give their trainers insider stock tips right on the gym floor!
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    Jul 15, 2012 8:18 AM GMT
    A big component of what we do is psychological.We listen to all kinds of stuff, but I always try to turn around whatever they are going through in their personal lives into motivating them to keep fit.
    I've heard it all.
    I always bring it back to how lifes challenges are always easier met when your fit...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 15, 2012 8:18 AM GMT
    depends on the client
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    Jul 15, 2012 8:19 AM GMT
    How personal do you mean?
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    Jul 15, 2012 8:41 AM GMT
    I think ive made this mistake myself as well, ive gained an amazing friend from it, but from a perspective, i wouldve been better keeping my personal trainer, just that, once you enter the friend zone, a lot of the professional qualities go out the window because youre now "friends" "sorry im late"'s etc etc start happening, and they think its not too bad because youre now friends..

    id refrain from it. but shit happens.
  • BardBear

    Posts: 533

    Jul 15, 2012 11:29 AM GMT
    There's also that element of, "sometimes its easier to talk to a stranger," bit. Hairdressers and their ilk also have this issue where, suddenly, a client just starts jabbering about really, really personal items. There's nothing wrong with it per se.

    I know for myself, I'm an intensely private individual in such situations, but there have been times I'm just chatting away and I'll let a bone slip out. And then I'm like, "whoa. Where did that come from? You don't need to know that."

    It all depends on the trainer and what they do with the information.

    Peace,
    Bardy
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    Jul 15, 2012 11:56 AM GMT
    I think there is always a line between friendship and business that has to be maintained. The friendlier you become, the more lax the trainer maybe? On the other hand, you might learn some things you wouldn't have if you both become good friends. Also if you become personally involved with the trainer and you both end up hating each other over views on things like religion and sexuality, it can strain the trainer / trainee relationship. Maybe. Just a thought.
  • fmrhugger

    Posts: 199

    Jul 15, 2012 11:58 AM GMT
    I always assume that anything I tell my trainer might end up posted on the bulletin board. There isnt even any implied confidentiality involved with a PT.
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    Jul 15, 2012 12:00 PM GMT
    If I ever get a trainer i'll let you know.
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    Jul 15, 2012 7:39 PM GMT
    I think one always needs to realize bounds. I've had people work for me (painters, trainers, etc) that just talk way too much [at me] about things I don't want to hear about, keeping me from my work and theirs. Here are some things that you should never delve into conversation with unsolicited when you don't know someone that well:

    -your banking issues
    -bad things about your business/work environment
    -what you and your spouse/other fight about on a day to day basis
    -your methods of slacking and still getting awarded (so annoying)
    -how you used to be really cool

    Acceptable topics: Life, love, interests, habits, life choices, things pertinent to the task at hand (you're hiring someone to help you get things done after all).

    Always always always, and please, constantly be gauging how the person is reacting to what you have to say. You are a human being you can do it. If they have that "why are you telling me this I kind of want work out"-look you should probably change the subject.
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    Jul 15, 2012 7:53 PM GMT
    It depends on the client and is not black and white. Some days they have no questions and don't expect them to be silent for an hour. I often like to fill in with stuff they may be interested in knowing--I did go to school forever. It would be bad not to share some of this knowledge with the population who would find it valuable.

    Yes, I've overdisclosed in the past, but now I have a therapist and can be more professional because I can tell all the shit I want to the therapist with no repercussions but that is risky when your paycheck depends on them liking you.
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    Jul 15, 2012 7:55 PM GMT
    Eh, I think it depends on whether you become genuine friends or not. My trainer in Austin was a great guy, and he invited me to his housewarming party. Of course I went. He spent just as much time telling me about his life as I did talking about mine. I didn't feel victimized, or like I was a therapist. I felt like a normal, social human being interacting with someone else for an hour. [For the record, he wasn't gay]