Coaching Fat Loss and General Fitness Clients – A Counter Rant

I decided to sit down and write this after I was sent a “newsletter” from another fitness coach which left me at a loss for words.  The newsletter began with letting you know that  “if you think this is about you, than it is”  The next sentence really struck me. The main intro was to put everyone on alert that they’ve noticed  some of their members had maybe been ignoring or neglecting their nutrition and workouts.

So at this point I’m reading along thinking, “Great! They noticed people are having a hard time with nutrition. Maybe there are going to be some great recipes or an event coming up to get them going again.”

Instead the next sentence read  “we will not allow you to continue to ignore it and say that you are a member of our gym.”  “Do what we say and succeed, or don’t and fail”  “we take pride in what we do and walk our talk every day.”

This is what immediately came to mind…



I see this a lot in the fitness industry and feel  it is one of  the reasons that there is still such a huge barrier to entry. Despite fitness being and multi-BILLION dollar industry, obesity rates continue to climb year after year.  Fitness is quite possibly one of the only sectors that can continue to grow as it’s performance indicators are going down.

Point 1: “Do what we say and succeed or don’t and fail.”

I’ve worked with plenty of clients in my time as a coach and can tell you that no one plan or strategy has ever been the same. There are plenty of methods you can use to get the results you are looking for. Coaching is about bringing out the best out in each of your players or members in our case. Not every basketball player has the skills of Steph Curry and not every member is ready to be bringing their meals to work in little tupperware containers, measuring their egg whites, and hitting the gym 6x per week. To coach a junior high basketball player the same way you would Steph Curry would be ridiculous. The novice player needs to learn the basics of dribbling, passing, shooting, quite possibly the rules of the game even.  If you were to start him with  Steph’s warmup routine you are setting them up for failure, frustration, and possibly turning them off to a game they might have otherwise grew to enjoy.

Don't start here!

The same idea goes for nutrition coaching. Giving someone who has never stepped foot in a gym or never followed a nutrition plan before the goal of coming in 6x per week and exact macronutrients to follow is a recipe for failure.  Let me be clear that it doesn’t mean that the plan they received wouldn’t work. It is true that if they followed it precisely and survived the given time period they would have phenomenal results.

The first step with that person might be getting them to eat a healthy lean protein and some fruit  for breakfast.  While that might seem like a really small step, if that person was skipping breakfast 50% of the time and eating microwaved pancakes the other 50% of the time, it could have a huge impact on how they feel and encourage them to keep moving forward. This person might not even own gym clothes and hasn’t worked out in years so maybe for them 2-3 full body strength training workouts are a great start.

Creating a great, but very difficult plan to follow and celebrating the success is the same as rolling out the balls at gym class and hoping Steph Curry is in your class. When they succeed you claim all the glory and turn to shame the others in class that couldn’t “keep up with your program”

Coach don’t preach.

Point # 2  “We walk our talk everyday and take pride in what we do”

That’s fantastic and I think that is very important. As fitness coaches I do believe we should be a source of inspiration for our clients.  However as a coach it is important to keep my own self interests and habits separate from that of my clients. I love powerlifting and trying to get as strong as I can in big movements like the squat, bench, deadlift, and clean.  However it is important that I don’t push my own likes on my clients.  I need to choose exercises that first and foremost are safe for my client to perform.  Secondarily to that I want to include exercises that will deliver the best results for their specific goal AND the client finds enjoyable.  How miserable would every session be if we insisted on them doing deadlifts and just the mere thought of them made them cringe.  The client might hate deadlifting but LOVES doing kettle bell swings. So why not create a great program that includes a good volume of swings and delivers the results he/she is paying you for.  You can have pride in yourself and your own work ethic and dedication and still have empathy for where you client might be at this point in their life.

So before you are so quick to judge someone on where they are in their life with their training and nutrition, think about some of the things that might not come so easily for you in your life. Lots of our clients are doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, own million dollar practices and companies. To them, building that career and life for themselves was easy.  They could just as soon build another million dollar company as easy as it might be for me to lose 15 pounds. Their hard is our easy and vice versa. The sooner we can understand that the better.  It’d be impossible for me to  look at one of our members who is a new mother of 3 and tell them “I know how you feel” or to just “suck it up and get it done.”  I can however sit down with them and help them create a strategy that will get them moving in the right direction.

Why someone elses struggles reflects your own pride in what you do is silly to me.


Point 3: “We will not allow you to say you train with us.”

Had it not been for this statement I’m not sure I would have even responded.  As a professional I believe that once you accept someone’s money you are entering into an agreement to provide them with the best level of service you can for their own safety and needs.  To me it is no different if you are a realtor or a personal trainer. The agreement is the same.  If someone is going to refer us to a friend of theirs we would assume it would be because they were happy with the service or results they were receiving, not because they believe they are a walking billboard of what “fitness” looks like.  If someone is not ready to start following a nutrition program just yet that’s fine. We obviously inform them of the benefits of getting coached on it, but maybe for them getting to the gym 3x per week is the first goal they need to master.  Once coming to the gym 3x per week becomes habit maybe then and ONLY then will they have a chance at starting to address their nutrition.  So in this scenario you may have a raving fan who can’t wait to tell the world that although they might not have lost a ton of weight yet, they accomplished their goal of moving better and feeling stronger.  But because they don’t fit YOUR definition of success you threaten to “not allow them to say they train with X”  Wow…   At Aspire we have members from all different levels of the spectrum.  Former figure competitors  train along side members who couldn’t tell you the difference between a carb or protein.  A member with a new goal of doing her first bikini competition trains along side a 72year old man who’s only goal is to touch his toes.  State ranked wrestlers train in the same room as their mom who might be doing all she can for her son to make every commitment he has to be the best and can right now only make 2 workouts a week.

Aspire members!
We love when our members spread the word of where they train!


As a coach, if you are making changes and making positive steps in the right direction I feel that I am doing my job.  Everyone has different goals and their own pace they might be comfortable reaching them. Being a great coach is about providing the knowledge and inspiration to keep that person moving forward  in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.  Make no mistakes about it, I’m not saying every gym should be Planet Fitness where deadlifting and making some noise is outlawed. We train hard and push our clients to be the best they can be for the 60 minutes they are with us each day. I just think we could all be a little bit better at keeping our goals our goals and helping shine the light on helping our members reach theirs.

And to echo the beginning of the newsletter in mention… if you think this is about you… it is.

Please don’t hesitate to comment on Facebook and let us know what you think. If you think I’m way off base let me have it, if you agree, let us know too!

Until next time.

Keep moving forward!

fill out this form to get started >>

Take the first step towards getting the results that you want!