10 Dos + Don’ts of Talking to Your Trainer

If you haven’t met me in person, you’ve probably still managed to gather a key piece of information about me just from reading my blog entries: I like to talk.

I like to talk a lot. I have a lot to say! I have strong opinions. I like to make people laugh. And, frankly, sarcasm is practically mother’s milk in my family (apologies to my grandparents, who read this blog, are really quite genuine people, and are not to blame for the rest of us turning out to be such sardonic so-and-sos).

Sometimes this penchant toward babbling can get me in trouble. And I don’t just mean the “excessive chatter” demerits on every single one of my high school report cards. We’ve all had those I really should not have said that moments of panic. I just seem to have them more than most everyone else.

Recently, one of these moments got me into some trouble during a workout with my (still fantastic!) trainer, JK. We were cross-training, doing a circuit of strength exercises, the last exercise of which was abmat sit-ups. While doing my second round, I paused and looked at JK. “Am I doing these, right?” I asked. “They seem much easier this time around.”

Her response? She told me that that clearly meant I needed to be doing more of the horrible things!

This was not what I had intended to have happen when I opened my big mouth. No matter what, even if you are trying to impress your trainer with how much stronger you are getting, saying, “This is easy” is only going to result in being given something more difficult. To make matters worse, your trainer will sweetly explain, as you suffer, that pushing you this way is their job.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with five things you might end up kicking yourself for saying to your trainer (if you’re still capable of kicking yourself once they’ve given you the workout of your life). May you learn from my mistakes.

Five Things You Should Never Say to Your Personal Trainer

1. “This is easy!”
2. “This is light!”
3. “I wasn’t sore at all afterward!”
4. “Really, we’re done already?!”
5. “I’m going to train to run a half-marathon and write a blog about it so I won’t be able to quit!”

See what I did with that last one?

But in all seriousness, a lot of us are too afraid to speak-up and ask questions when we’re working out with a professional, and that can be dangerous. No trainer, group exercise instructor, coach, or fitness floor attendant, wants you to get hurt. And when you’re training for something you’ve never done before, (like, say, a half-marathon. Have I mentioned that I’m running a half-marathon?) you’re going to encounter things you’ve never done before, don’t understand, or need help with, and the people helping you won’t know what you need unless you can articulate it to them. So, here comes the much more important list.

Five Things You Should Never Be Afraid to Say to Your Personal Trainer

1. “This hurts.” Be as detailed as possible when talking to your instructor or trainer about pain. If you can, tell them where the pain is, when it happens, and how it feels.

2. “I don’t understand. Can you explain the exercise again?” If you need one, ask for another explanation. You’re learning and you want to be sure you’re doing the exercise in the most safe and effective way.

3. “This particular movement isn’t working for me.” Every single body is different and has its own quirks. There is no shame in modifying an exercise to how your body is moving on any given day. Your trainer and instructors know how to make these modifications: that’s why they’re the experts!

4. “I feel sick/dizzy.” We all have moments when we’re pushing ourselves really hard when we start to feel a little, well, gross, (at least, I do, and I’m choosing to believe the rest of you do, too). But there is a difference between that yucky hard work feeling and truly feeling ill and/or lightheaded. If you feel like you might be sick or pass out? It is definitely time to speak up!

5. “I can’t do this.” This one might seem counter-intuitive or whiny, but I think it is important. In fact, said it to JK at the end of a recent treadmill workout. “I can’t do this,” I said. “I will never run 13.1 miles.” And you know what she did? She reminded me that a month ago I wouldn’t have made it through the workout I’d just finished. She told me just how far I’ve come already. Outside observers can see improvements that we can’t see in ourselves and sometimes we need to hear about those improvements to help us keep going and not give up. It’s okay to give into that feeling of “I can’t” for a minute, we’re all human, but it sure helps to do so in the presence of someone who will remind you that, in fact, you can.

Was that a bit cheesy? But I meant it! Pretend I ended with some sassy rejoinder instead, okay? It’ll be our little secret.

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What our members say

 Jennifer Packard
Jennifer Packard

Whether you’re just starting out, trying to get back into a routine, or are feeling frustrated with your current regimen: Your fitness journey is your own. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

 Terry Hall
Terry Hall

‘Can’t’ is no longer in my vocabulary, and I have a sense of pride in my ability to work toward a goal and not only achieve it, but often exceed it.