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35 lessons learned in Personal Training and Coaching

With fifteen years of personal training and coaching, I’ve learned a lot of valuable things. These 35 lessons learned have been life makers and game changers for me!

Personal training is an interesting art. I call it an art because it goes so far beyond what some might imagine it to be. Far from the classic superficial image that fitness professionals might conjure, a truly committed fitness professional treats much more than the physical body. An accomplished personal trainer learns to see beyond the limitations of the physical realm and into the mental and spiritual field, addressing a person’s fears, self-imposed limits, and barriers to health. A person is, after all, more than just a body.

I see my clients far more often than I see my personal friends. Most people train 2 or 3 times per week, and some of my clients have been receiving my exercise guidance for 10 years or more. I have worked with a wide range of people, from the high-powered executive to the housewife, from the child athlete to the jet-set millionaire. I have had the privilege of training the handicapped, the athlete, the elderly, and the chronically ill.

Arguably, the most interesting thing about being a trainer is the sheer volume of close personal relationships that one develops over time. I often tell people that training is like having windows into multiple people’s lives, a firsthand view of the human experience in so many of its variations. I am a witness to people’s accomplishments at work, their struggles with their children, their heartbreak at the loss of loved ones, their triumph over disease. I am the witness to their courage, their pain, their fears, and their victories. These are some of the lessons I’ve learned.

  1. Valuable people come in many varied packages because all people are valuable.
  2. Although a lot of things in life aren’t fair, when it comes to fitness and conditioning for the general population, life is pretty fair. Effort and reward are undeniably correlated.
  3. Money doesn’t make people happier. It just makes them more comfortable.
  4. Most people are limited by their beliefs, not by their capacities.
  5. More is not always better.
  6. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they move.
  7. The vast majority of people wear masks upon first contact. Be patient until they feel comfortable enough to remove those masks. It’s worth it.
  8. Some people don’t change for the better because they don’t believe that they deserve it.
  9. There is something to learn from everyone.
  10. Some of the “wealthiest” people are actually the poorest, and some of the simplest people are royalty.
  11. You can’t be a true champion if you lack humility.
  12. Some things are worth fighting for, and some are not, and you can spend a lifetime trying to understand which is which.
  13. Honest business is good business.
  14. Kids are often wiser than adults, and they should be treated with respect.
  15. Entitled adults benefit from disciplinary action, even if it is administered late in life.
  16. It is wise to learn to see the potential in people, rather than judge them for what you think they are right now.
  17. Obese people wear their addictions while others can hide them, but most people have addictions.
  18. People who really love you will support your efforts to be better.
  19. Having optimum health is a gift of immeasurable value.
  20. Negative leaders will never succeed.
  21. Helping a person achieve health can change their entire life and the lives of those around them.
  22. When people don’t believe in themselves, sometimes it’s enough to have somebody else believe in them.
  23. Champs get knocked down a lot, but they always get back up.
  24. There’s a fine line between listening to your body and being a hypochondriac. Understanding your body is an acquired skill.
  25. Most people just need someone to talk to without fear of judgment.
  26. People who blame their past for their current misery are just making excuses to remain addicted to their pain. Each day is new.
  27. People are generally kind.
  28. Divorce brings out the worst in people, but even under those difficult circumstances, some people will remain excellent in character.
  29. Sometimes people just have to be selfish in order to live a life with fewer regrets.
  30. There is a time to follow orders, and there’s a time to be your own boss.
  31. Handicapped individuals can have good lives, and healthy individuals can be extremely handicapped.
  32. Personality quirks, political views, and religious views can easily be overlooked. They don’t matter unless you decide that they do.
  33. Strengthening your body often has the effect of strengthening your entire being.
  34. Some people will never tell their secrets.
  35. Finding your life’s passion is the greatest gift of all.

I could have spent these years simply focusing on the goals: the weight loss, the performance gains, the competition victory. But those things could never have fulfilled me in the way that relating to people on the human level has. I have always loved my clients dearly, for the people that they are and for the people they are becoming. They have blessed my life with friendship, diversity, knowledge, and inspiration. I have made them healthier, and they have made me wiser.

Having just finished my degree in Public Health, I am retiring from personal training this year. But these will forever be my people, as I often refer to them. Once they have touched my life, they are never forgotten. I will take them with me as I continue my life’s journey down new and undiscovered roads. They will be my companions every step of the way.

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