I remember my first personal training client like it was yesterday. Yes, time does fly when you’re a middle-aged coach who has spent too much time in gyms watching people admire themselves.
And before you even ask, I never looked into a mirror I didn’t like.
She was originally from Ireland, loved to run marathons and worked in finance. When she was a child, she suffered serve burns to her forearm, wrists, lost part of her little finger and muscle from around her wrist from a house fire.
This made gripping anything difficult, but it didn’t stop her. If anything, it made her even more determined.
She was super fit, dedicated and ready to run through brick walls to get better. I couldn’t have asked for a better first client because she was up for anything and I didn’t need to motivate her at all.
As she was new to strength training and as I was to coaching, I tried to focus on the fundamentals (squats, presses, rows and core) as we only had 30 minutes together a few times per week.
Then one morning I got bold.
I read somewhere that runners needed to strengthen their hamstrings to prevent injuries and I had a great exercise in mind, the Romanian deadlift, a fantastic posterior strength builder.
However, there was a slight problem, I’d never coached her to do a hip hinge and I jumped to one of the more difficult progressions. In hindsight, it wasn’t the greatest idea.
But that didn’t stop either of us and it was a complete disaster. I tried and tried to coach her through it, but we were both inexperienced and all I did was confuse her more.
Normally, performing an exercise with poor technique with someone coaching them doesn’t result in injury but it did this time. Because of my inability to coach the hip hinge, she strained her lower back.
And this resulted in missed training sessions, lost income and she was unable to run in a marathon she had entered. I really screwed up.
You’d think I would’ve learnt from this, but I made the same mistake again with the same exercise a year later.
I tried to coach a client through a difficult hip hinge progression and all it did was make her made mad (because she didn’t get it) and she walked out and demanded the gym refund the rest of her sessions.
I was mad, and I blamed her, (at the time) but it was my fault because I failed to learn from my earlier mistake. Who makes the same mistake twice?
Screwing up is all part of the learning process, even doing it twice to receive a message loud and clear. But when a personal trainer screws up, it results in bad reviews, lost clients, loss of income and crappy reputation. Screw up a few times and you’re unemployed.
Dealing with the human body is complicated and nobody gets it every time. But did I crawl up into a ball, cry and quit? No, and neither should you.
The biggest mistake of all is to quit. But not cable. You have to quit cable.
Whether you’re a coach who has made mistakes with his or her clients or you’re trying to get in shape and fretting over a missed training session or the double cheeseburger you ate last night, please accept this as part of the learning process and move on.
Dwelling on your mistakes and not learning from it doesn’t make it any better. It makes worse and may lead to quitting. And quitting leads to the path of failure and that’s not a road you want to go down.
So next time life throws you a curve ball, buckle down and swing for the fences because you might just hit a home run.