3 Tips to Help You Be the Best Trainee (And Get the Most Out of Your Sessions)

good trainee

A personal trainer can be a highly valuable resource for anyone trying to achieve a certain health goal, no matter what their current state of health is. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength, prepare for an upcoming race, reverse chronic disease, or simply improve your quality of life, working in one-on-one or small group setting can truly amp up your results.

Clearly, it’s important to recognize the qualities of a good personal trainer before you commit to working with someone. But did you ever consider that personal trainers are also on the lookout for the qualities of a good client? Remember, you may not see it, but if you’ve hired a trainer, he or she is going to be putting a lot of time, effort, and energy into helping you succeed. So, for both your benefit and theirs, commit to being the type of client a personal trainer would want to have.

3 Tips on Being A Good Trainee

1. Show Up on Time.

This may be an obvious one, but believe it or not, not everybody understands how important it is to respect other people’s time. Arrive at your session on time and ready to go. Treat the session like any other business- or medical-related meeting. If you’re frequently coming late, rescheduling, or canceling appointments, it’s showing your personal trainer that you don’t truly value the service he or she is offering you. Of course, life happens, and sometimes you can’t help but reschedule. If you need to, try to give your trainer as much notice as possible, and be sure to respect their cancelation and payment policy.

“If you try it [something new] and are unsuccessful, don’t see it as a failure. See it as a step in your journey–a step that you, fortunately, aren’t taking alone.”

2. Stop Saying “I Can’t”

Our trainers believe in their clients and want to see them succeed in their fitness journey. Having a client who says they can’t do something before they even attempt it can be discouraging to both the trainee and trainer. The next time your personal trainer asks you to try something, don’t automatically say, “I can’t.” Trust that he or she is making this suggestion because they believe that carrying out their recommendation will have a positive impact on your health. If you try it and are unsuccessful, don’t see it as a failure. See it as a step in your journey–a step that you, fortunately, aren’t taking alone.

Remember, too, that the things that have the greatest potential to change us are often hard to do. Avoid complaining that things are “hard,” and challenge yourself to really push it during a workout (your trainer will be there to make sure you stay safe).

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3. Communicate as Honestly as Possible

You and your trainer will be working closely together, so you need to be clear and honest with him or her about a lot of things. For instance, feel free to let your personal trainer know what 

kind of feedback you respond well to during a workout. If you’re a tough-love kind of person who stays motivated with some good-natured cajoling, let your trainer know this. Equally, if you do better with a more supportive approach, let your trainer know this, as well.

good trainee

It’s also important to be clear with your goals and expectations. Let’s say you’re envisioning a 20-lb weight loss in 2 weeks, or something equally unrealistic. Your disappointment may become unfairly redirected to your trainer, who had he or she known what you were expecting, probably would have helped you devise a more realistic goal in the first place.

Also be honest about your health and lifestyle choices outside of the gym. After all, your trainer is only with you a few hours a week at most. Your results will largely depend on what you do when no one’s watching and keeping you accountable!

Take your trainer’s professional recommendations seriously, give them an honest go, and tell him or her what is or isn’t working so the two of you can adjust your plan moving forward.

Are you a personal trainer? Have any things you look for in a good client? Let us know about it by sharing in the comments below.


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Sara M. is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and freelance writer living and working near Boston, MA. As a former CrossFit gym owner and current fitness lover, Sara has a lot of personal and professional experience inside and outside the gym. She loves to write about various topics related to health, wellness, nutrition, human behavior, and self-mastery.