It’s time you know what your trainer is actually thinking about you. The truth is, there are times when your trainer wants to say something that you just don’t want to hear. The trainer will feel deeply compelled to say these things, but will also have reservations based on the fact you are paying him or her money. And no matter how much you need to hear the truth, your trainer will harbor concerns that you will find the truth inappropriate or unfulfilling and take your business elsewhere. So your trainer remains tight-lipped despite the fact you continue your eye-rolling, forehead-smacking behavior.
And then there are those of us trainers who do indeed say these things to our clients. Not because we’re obnoxious, not because we’re jerks or bad at communicating – quite the opposite in fact. We say these things you don’t want to hear because we love you, we want you to succeed, and we think truth is the best medicine for what ails your health and fitness.
Sometimes a trainer will also refrain from telling you the truth because of a worry you won’t like him or her anymore. Personally, I couldn’t care less if you like me. This isn’t high school. This is your life. This is your body, your longevity, and your athletic performance. There’s no space for “liking” all the facets involved in optimizing your health, including me. One of my clients once told me, “When we’re not in class, I really like you, but when we’re in class, I really $%#ing hate you.” I must have laughed for a good ten minutes after that.
So, here’s a little dose for all of you who haven’t had the opportunity to take a class or experience a private session with me. Here’s a little “Tough Love Becca” for you all:
1. Just stop telling me you don’t like vegetables.
That might be a valid statement from a toddler. That is not an acceptable statement from a grown human being. First, I don’t care if you don’t like vegetables. Second, grown ups do things because they are the right things to do, not because it’s what they feel like doing or don’t feel like doing. Third, have you seriously tried every vegetable on the planet and you hate them all? Quit making excuses that leave you with nothing to eat except bacon and gluten-free junk food. Practice eating like an adult. You might be surprised at what you do end up enjoying over time.
2. Just stop telling me you don’t have time.
That’s not true. You have 24 hours in the day, just like the rest of us. What you mean to say is, “It’s not a priority.” If you tell me your fitness isn’t a priority, I can’t argue with that. That’s your right and your choice. And if you tell me that, then I’ll tell you to go away and come back when your health and fitness are a priority. But until then, be honest with yourself and quit making it about “time.”
3. Just stop talking about your metabolism.
We all have one. That is as much as needs to be discussed. Yes, some people have “fast” metabolisms and some people have “slow” ones. It’s far less likely that you were cursed with a horribly slow one, than it is that you are eating improperly and entirely too much. Get your thyroid checked if you insist, but I’d rather you kept a food journal and we checked that together instead. Quit using the mythical metabolism as an excuse and do what needs to be done to care for your unique body – slow, fast, or otherwise. Stop making yourself a victim and start loving what you got.
4. Just stop telling me about the eighteen other workouts you did today.
I will kick you out of the gym and send you home. I’m so not kidding. Don’t tell me you did kettlebells this morning, CrossFit class at lunch, and now you’re showing up to my strength class after finishing kickboxing. Do not take my 6:00pm class and think you’re going to spend the 7:00pm hour rowing away on the ergometer in the courtyard. I will send you home, I will take away all your toys, and I won’t laugh at your epic tales. I will threaten you with horror stories of overtraining instead, and I won’t think you’re uber-fit or even the tiniest bit badass. I will think you are displaying obsessive behavior and are likely on the brink of a biological catastrophe. Stop thinking too much is too cool. Stop training and go home.
5. Just stop asking me what ab exercises will give you a six-pack.
If any cliché off the Internet was ever actually true, it’s the oft-repeated phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Abs show up because you are lean. Leanness happens because you eat well (which means you eat things like vegetables). Neither visible abs nor leanness necessarily connotes health or athleticism. Sumo wrestlers have some strong abs, but you can’t see them. Fedor Emelianenko has a potbelly, but I wouldn’t mess with him. On the flip side, just about every homeless person in Santa Monica, California has a badass six-pack. It’s not ‘cause they’re doing sit ups. Stop asking me these “ab” questions and start lifting some heavy stuff and eating right.
6. Just stop bragging about your injuries.
Injuries aren’t funny and they aren’t entertaining. And yes, that includes your ripped-up palms you keep posting photos of on Facebook (and I can say that because I’ve done it myself a few times in my own sordid training history). I don’t care that you did a thousand reps, bro. I do care that you learn how to take care of yourself so you can keep coming back to train every day. The vast majority of us are nothing special in the athletic department. And while it’s fun to push ourselves hard, sometimes we need to tipsy-toe back to reality. Injuries are bad things. Stop bragging about them and instead do everything you can to prevent them.
7. Just stop telling me you don’t like that exercise.
That’s cool you want to share your feelings me and tell me what you do and don’t like. I actually do like having those discussions, but more from a mental toughness and psychological aspect. So please don’t expect me to take your dislikes into consideration when it comes to designing a workout, and don’t expect me to respond to you with more than, “That’s nice, now do it anyway.” I’m having you do something because it’s good for you, not because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Consider whatever it is the vegetable of exercises.
8. Just stop asking me for advice and then telling me why you can’t do it.
If you ask me, “Hey, how do I achieve [insert goal here],” and I respond by saying, “Wow, that’s awesome, here’s what you need to do – [insert steps A, B, and C],” then do not continue the conversation by proceeding to tell me why steps A, B, and C are impossible. And most certainly do not then ask me what you should do instead of steps A, B, and C.
You should do A, B, and C.
You’re just not that special. I mean, you are special and I love you, but you’re not physically special. You’re a human being, just like the rest of us. We’re all made of the same general parts and we all move about in the same general way. Yes, there are nuances, perhaps A1 and A2, but you still gotta do A, alright? Stop trying to make yourself so unique that no training program could possibly apply to you.
9. Just stop.
Yes, just stop. Stop all of it. Stop before you even open your mouth. But remember, I’m only telling you all this because I love you and I want your hard work to count for everything, not nothing. Now go eat your broccoli and sand your calluses.
Photos provided by Miguel Tapia Images and CrossFit LA.