Health / Expert Advice

10 Things Trainers Wish You Knew

Basically, how to help trainers help you succeed.

When you’re drenched in sweat during a tough workout, and your trainer says, “just five more push-ups” or “another two miles”—it’s appealing to sigh and hit them with the side-eye. But it’s important to remember that trainers have one goal in mind: to help you be the strongest, healthiest, happiest version of yourself. So, next time you’re cursing your trainer’s name, remember that. And these nine other things trainers wish you knew.

We aren’t judging you.

“Working with a new trainer can be intimidating,” says personal trainer Annie Brees of Healthy Habits, Happy Moms. “I often hear people express concerns that their trainer will disapprove of their fitness levels, body composition, or eating tendencies—and this often leads them to lie about their behaviors.”

Instead, Brees recommends honesty, even if you’re feeling the urge to impress your trainer, because a good trainer-client relationship is primarily built on trust. “Remember, our ultimate goal is to help you overcome your obstacles. The more honest you can be about your struggles, the better we can help you!”

What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.

Aaptiv trainer Candice Cunningham says exercise and nutritional needs vary, so what works for your friend may not work for you. Now, if your bestie raves about yoga and you want to give it a try, that’s fine. Just know results will vary greatly, as each body requires something different depending on goals.

“For example, you may need to focus more on fat burning versus HIIT workouts,” says Cunningham. “Find a trainer to help you personalize a plan of action for you specifically.”

It’s okay if a trainer isn’t the right “fit.”

“Each trainer typically has a ‘style’ of training they prefer,” says Brees. “Some trainers prefer to be more aggressive, while some a little more soft-spoken. Some prefer high-intensity cardio and some specialize in yoga and pilates. If you book a session with a trainer and realize it’s not a good fit for whatever reason, it’s ok to say so! Most trainers are happy to recommend another professional that can be of better service to you.”

Food is not your enemy.

It’s great to be mindful of healthy food choices. It’s also completely fine to set weight loss goals and do all you can to work toward them. However, trainers wish you knew that food is critical for success. Cunningham warns against viewing food as your enemy when it comes to a smart fitness journey—namely, the bad habit of not eating enough.

“Starving yourself can actually cause your metabolism to slow down, which in the long run, can make you gain weight,” she explains. “Your metabolism needs to be working, meaning processing foods, to burn fat and calories.” In other words, give yourself permission to nourish your body, and you’re likely to see better overall results.

Don’t cheat yourself.

Look, there are only so many hours in a day, and when you show up for your workout (whether in real life with a trainer or at home using Aaptiv), trainers wish you knew it’s important to give it your all. Limit distractions whenever possible, and push yourself to be focused.

Fitness expert Nadia Murdock sees this all the time, such as when people take phone calls during a session. She also wishes more clients paid closer attention in general. “Not only is it rude to others [talking during a workout], but you are missing out on valuable information—that you’re paying for! To me, it’s almost like being in school: when your teacher (the trainer) talks, you should be quiet.”

You don’t have to workout every day.

“You don’t have to workout every day,” says Aaptiv trainer Meghan Takacs. “It’s not about the quantity; it’s about the quality. You don’t become a better runner by running more.”

Not only should you embrace the power of rest days, know there’s a fine line between pushing yourself and overdoing it. “Listening to your body is key,” says Murdock. “And it will help you ultimately achieve the goals you are working towards!”

Use good hygiene.

This one seems obvious, but trainers agree: practice good hygiene, particularly at the gym. Wash your hands, and wipe down machines and weights after use. Also, don’t walk on other people’s yoga mats, says Murdock.

Speak up!

Feedback is key during a workout. “If you’re finding a movement too challenging, too easy or just not what you’re looking for—say something! We need feedback from you to be able to best serve you, and communication is key to doing that,” says Brees.

Stay positive.

Of all the things trainers wish you knew, this may be the most important. “ I wish clients knew that the success to losing weight is making a shift in your mind,” notes Aaptiv trainer Kelly Chase. “If you’re constantly frustrated, your body will use the cortisol (stress hormone) to hold onto those unwanted pounds, no matter how hard you workout. Therefore, if you stay positive, love yourself the way you are, but make the changes necessary to FEEL better, then you will start to see and feel the changes you’re wanting.”

Takacs’s advice? Don’t doubt yourself. And as for Cunningham, she says every little bit counts. “Celebrate the small stuff you achieve along the way to your big goals. After all, they are what get you to your overall goals.”

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