Ever wonder what your trainer’s thinking during a session? (Beyond “that’s a lot of sweat” or “he’s starting to smell.”) Well, there are definitely a few thoughts racing through their heads — and TBH, some aren’t so great. According to a recent survey from TreadmillReviews, 44% of more than 500 trainers from various fitness backgrounds said they’ve judged a client for their behavior or appearance. (If you do CrossFit, instructors are even judgier, with more than 50% saying they’ve thought worse of a client for their bad behavior.)
We wanted to know exactly what personal trainers are saying about their clients behind closed doors, so we asked TreadmillReviews to send us their exclusive data. Here’s a tip: think about this the next time you’re at the gym and bitching to your trainer about a set of burpees, or regaling them with tales of your latest bad date.
That’s right — save the emotional drama for a legit therapist. Personal trainers are not there to discuss your latest breakup with you. They’re there to get you into shape — full stop. “I am not your therapist,” says Mike* (names have been changed to allow subjects to speak freely on private matters), 31, a CrossFit instructor from Michigan.
You might think your trainer is heavily invested in helping you get the bod you’re looking for — and to some extent, they are. But let’s be realistic: they’re still getting paid, regardless of whether you get that set of rock-solid abs or not. So when you let yourself slip, they notice, and they’re judging you for it.
“A student cancelled 3 appointments and I didn’t see him for a month,” Rob, 39, a personal trainer, says. “The next time I saw him, he gained 18 lbs. IN A MONTH.” Seriously, how does this happen?
If you’re complaining to your trainer about why you don’t look like some super jacked influencer you follow on Instagram, you’re gonna get on their nerves. “Stop having unrealistic body expectations from looking at people on social media,” urges Rebecca, 29, a California-based Zumba instructor. “Some people have surgery to lose weight and lie about it, so don’t compare yourself [to anyone].”
No one likes a whiner at the gym, especially not your trainer. So if you’re complaining that you’re not feeling an exercise where you should, but you continue to ignore your trainer’s feedback on form, it’s your fault you’re not succeeding. As Mark, 24, a New York-based CrossFit instructor puts it, he wants to see “less bitching, more listening.”
Be a big boy and pick up your sh*t after those sets. If you’re using dumbbells, for instance, put them back on the rack. If you think you’re entitled to have your trainer put barbells back and wipe down your pool of sweat on a mat, you’re wrong.
“Return equipment how you found it,” says John, 24, a CrossFit instructor in New York. “I’m happy to provide a service, but as instructors, we’re not your parents and we don’t want to clean up after you.”
Your trainer can’t magically change your body overnight or help you gain a six-pack if you’re chugging six-packs afterwards. “We’re coaches, not magicians!,” says Ohio-based personal trainer Jim, 29. “Genetics also play a major role in physical ability and appearance. Be the best you can with what you’ve been given.”
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In a dating context, body odor is a deal breaker — and that applies in the gym as well. “I had a student that smelled extremely bad (like dirty diaper bad),” Sam, 41, from Washington, says. “I referred them to another trainer after their second session.” Guys, it’s called deodorant. Use it before your workout.
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Unless you’re getting very, very, very clear signals (like, she is asking you out for a drink or a date), you should 100% not flirt with a trainer. Even if you’re not attracted to them, the feeling is almost certainly not mutual. They’re there to do a job: period.
“I had a student try way too hard to flirt with me knowing I was married. It made me uncomfortable,” says James, 32, a CA-based health and fitness coach. “I had to reassign the client to someone else.”
Be on time and be responsible. If you’re not making progress, ask where you can improve, instead of putting the blame on your trainer for your lack of gains. “I had a client who was consistently late/no-showing,” Molly, 26, a health and fitness coach from California, says. “The client had the nerve to ask why they weren’t making any progress.” It’s your time and your wallet. Use it wisely.
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