fitness fail

We’ve seen on our social media feeds success stories about losing weight or moving massive amounts of it. It’s a great way to promote personal training services(or yourself) and to provide social proof. What’s not shown is the hard work and failure it takes get to that point. Well, at least for me.

The only fails I want to see is those tragic exercise ones on YouTube.


When I first started as a personal trainer in a big box gym, I thought I knew everything but in reality I knew nothing. Even after getting certified, I didn’t know how to instruct a client to deadlift or squat.  Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t hurt more clients.  Thank God for liability insurance. J

Johnathan Goodman and The PTDC came at the perfect time for me and another 200.000 trainers. Through their blog articles, videos and being able to connect with other coaches, I’ve been able to turn my passion into a career and my mistakes have been minimized.

However, before the inception of The PTDC I screwed up a lot.  I lost clients, couldn’t get clients, didn’t follow up with prospects and my exercise programming sucked.  I pretty much learnt the hard way.

Is there an easy way to learn anything?

If I could time travel back in time and had a do over, there would be a few things I would do differently, some of which are listed below. While I’m there, the new me is telling the old me that curling and grunting in the squat rack is unacceptable. Now, I know better. J

(Note– The names have been changed to protect the innocent)

  1. Teaching the basics

My very first client, Sam was a high flying banker and a marathon runner. Her cardiovascular fitness was excellent and she was in great shape. Sam was looking to get stronger to reduce her running times. But she was also very impatient and wanted it all yesterday.

During one of our sessions, I programmed in a barbell stiff legged deadlift. However, I never taught her the hip hinge and her hip mobility (which I never tested, oops) wasn’t great. The end result was a back strain that put her out of action for two weeks. This put her behind in her marathon preparations and also lightened my pay packet.

What I should have done differently-I should’ve regressed the exercise and instructed the proper mechanics of the hip hinge. When you’re faced with a similar situation you should emphasize the value of the basics and building a stable training foundation.  This will save you a lot of heartache.

  1. Trying to razzle-dazzle


 The majority of your training should be spent squatting, pressing, pulling, hinging and carrying something heavy. These exercises have the greatest carryover in and out of the gym. Programming in the correct variations for each client is the tricky part. That’s why we get paid the big bucks.:)

Tim, in his early 50’s, high powered attorney with your typical desk jockey posture. He was looking to shed a few pounds so he could look better naked and stay injury free. However, he had the shoulder mobility of a tin man.

But that didn’t stop me from programming a dumbbell squat to press into one of our sessions. Tim ended up with a very sore set of shoulders and had to take time off training because of my mistake.

What I should have done differently– Combination exercises are a great way to burn fat and build muscle but they should be reserved for more experienced exercisers. Now I make sure clients have adequate strength, mobility and co-ordination before programming in advanced moves.

  1. Not walking a mile in my clients shoes

Trainers love the gym environment. We love to exercise, get after it and push the limits. However, a lot of people (in my experience) don’t quite share the same enthusiasm. They find the gym an intimating place and feel they’re being judged by other gym goers.

Combined with the unrealistic messages/images portrayed in the mainstream media about what it means to be ‘fit and healthy’ gym goers often get the wrong idea of what it takes to get in shape. And to confuse matter further, what’s good or bad for us changes on a regular basis.

Most fitness professionals can tune out this bullshit (because we know better) but some other people cannot. They can get sucked into trying stupid stuff, buying expensive supplements and thinking lifting anything heavier than a pink dumbbell will turn you into the hulk. Shame on you Tracey Anderson.

Please tune out all the BS and stick with what works for you.

  1. Not watching other coaches’ coach sooner

 Back when I thought I knew everything, I pretty much ignored what every other coach was doing. However, this all changed when I went to a Pat Rigsby  organized event in Frisco, Texas a few years ago. It was there I first met natural bodybuilding/trainer extraordinaire Tyler English.

Tyler proceeded to kick the butt of 70 fitness professionals with a metabolic workout that only Satan himself could’ve come up with. He did this with great energy, enthusiasm and presence.  He worked the room like a pro, encouraging every individual to get the best out of themselves.


This made quite an impression and changed the way I coaching for the better.  Watching great people in their wheel house is something that everybody should do on a regular basis and something I regret not doing sooner.

Wrapping up

 Trainers make mistakes. After all, we are only human. But when mistakes are made, this can lead to injury, a loss of income and reputation. But by constantly putting yourself in learning situations and expanding your comfort zone, these can be minimized.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill



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