Want to know some awful facts about me?
I don't inbox my clients often enough and ask how they're getting on.
I seldom follow up on the tasks they haven’t completed, or chase them for food diaries that haven’t been sent.
I usually let them make their own decisions (even when their decision-making skills are terrible).
And when they tell me they don't want to do something, I always respond with "Ok, no problem".
Sure, I complete a full questionnaire at the start of their program, go into their eating and training history, ask them what their goals are and then map out a plan that will help them get there.
I answer all their questions promptly and honestly, explain what I expect from them in terms of accountability over the course of the program, and then I roll out what they need to do in bite-sized pieces.
But I don't harass them or wrap them over the knuckles if they don’t do it...
(Me accepting my pro card at the Universe in Brazil in June 2017.)
Can you see how terrible I am, FFS?
You’d think that achieving a world title and professional status as an athlete would make me a little more “onto it” and perhaps a better trainer, but all it did was make me more aware of how terrible I am.
By “terrible” I mean not prescribing twice as many workouts as the client needs to do just because they are human and life happens and will probably take time to adhere to everything that was prescribed in the first place.
By “terrible” I mean not slashing their calories and damaging their metabolism when they actually need accountability with more important things, like removing the biscuit jar at work, or no longer picking off their kid’s plates.
And by “terrible” I mean making sure they do what they have been asked to do, so they don't get distracted and go do something else.
The one particular area of being a “great trainer” that is of the utmost importance – making people stick to the plan - and yet I don't possess this skill at all... Not one bit.
(Flashback to February 2017 when I hadn't exercised at all for 10 weeks due to surgery. I used good nutrition to accelerate my recovery.)
But why would I write such damming evidence about myself when my clients pay the bills?
What if they all leave me now because they know the truth?
I figured it’s better to be open and honest than it is to try to hide it. After all, you’d feel ripped off if you signed up with me and expected a great trainer. And the first re-requisite to self-improvement is self-awareness. You can’t improve on what you don’t think you suck at. So if you want to get better at anything, you must first admit that you suck.
But what makes it even worse is that I've been aware of this deficiency for some time and never actually improved it. I started out bad and have progressively gotten worse…
So why am I so terrible at what I do?
Maybe it's because I don't really care about whether my clients succeed or not.
Maybe it’s because I’m too focused on my own goals.
Maybe it's because the less my clients succeed, the longer they'll need to keep paying me more money...
Or maybe it's simply because I’m missing that chip in my brain that trainers need to forcibly make people do what they know they need to do, but aren't...
("If you are working towards something you really care about, you don't need to be pushed. The vision pulls you." -- Steve Jobs)
It took me 4 years to go from being a complete newbie in the gym to winning a world title. Not everyone wants to be a pro (and only body-builders care what it means anyway), but if I have discovered an effective way to "do what needs to be done” to get the result I want, how can I wrap it up in a nice little box and telepathically sell it?
Because that’s the stuff that would actually help people. That's the stuff that would bring them happiness, make their lives a little bit better and cause them to think “Yes, that money I gave to Trish was money well spent.”
Rather than boasting about how much junk food I can fit into my macros or posting endless motivational quotes on Instagram, I could give my clients something useful. Something that would solve the problems that keep them awake at night and make their journeys that little bit easier.
And if not for the above, which sounds like a dream come true but so far I have failed atrociously to manifest, then what are they actually paying me for?
(Christine Brooks - Sports Model Champion did a full off-season BEFORE she started contest her prep. That way she had created a metabolism that worked for her and didn't need to eat less food to get on stage. Because that is the smart way to do it.)
Because I’m not just terrible at training clients. I’m terrible at “being” a client too.
I've hired many experts along the way to my own destination, and totally appreciate the value of being accountable. I know how great it feels to have someone to answer to and keep you on the straight and narrow.
But this is what also makes me a terrible client...
I never waited for them to contact me. If I wanted their help, I asked for it.
When I wasn't clear on something, I researched all the solutions, collated a list of options in order of most likely and then asked for their opinion.
If they asked me to send them data, I did it without being asked twice. And presented it it in a self-designed three-piece spreadsheet with separate tabs along the bottom.
And if I ever received advice and didn’t follow it (because I'm just as guilty of this as anyone else), I simply told them I chose not to do it, and that it was my fault and not theirs.
I paid them all the money, and I took every bit of the responsibility.
What an idiot.
Was I supposed to be giving all the responsibility to them?
And if not, then what the actual f*ck was I paying them for?
Because here’s the brutal truth about trainers...
- Just because you are good at training yourself, doesn’t mean you are automatically good at training others; and
- Just because you are good at training others, doesn’t mean you are automatically good at training yourself.
These are two completely separate skill sets. They do not go hand in hand. But to be a great trainer, you need both skills. And I only possess one.
(3.5 months post-Universe, still grinding)
I get it, it's lonely sometimes. I've been training alone for the better part of five years. But paying someone to talk about what you don't want to do doesn't make it happen faster... Taking action does...
The truth about why I'll never be a great trainer
Telling people what they need to do, and then pushing them and kicking them until they've actually done it... not letting them make their own decisions or having any leeway whatsoever. Controlling them. Treating them like they’re stupid. Micro-managing them.
Looking for solutions to their problems when they don’t want to look for themselves. Making the decisions for them because they don’t want to decide for themselves. WANTING IT for them because they don’t want to want it for themselves…
Sure, some people need a little extra support and guidance. Some people prefer it, and that is a perfectly acceptable service to purchase. But just like a female selling jock straps, how can I sell something I've never desired?
How can I convincingly sell the “step-by-step guide to building your dream kitchen” when I bought the do-it-yourself version with help-desk support?
(Photo-Shoot on the rooftop of our hotel in Brazil, 24 hours before I won the Universe. Best condition I've ever been in, worst client you ever had)
That is the question I ask myself every day…
Is it OK to sign people up, show them what they should be doing, let them communicate with you when it suits them instead of harassing them all the time, and actually letting them get on with it?
Is it OK to wait for clients to take action before giving them the next set of advice and instruction, so they don’t get confused or ahead of themselves?
Is it OK to actually want to educate them so they can feel empowered to make their own decisions, enjoy the accountability and not need others to think for them all the time?
Come to think of it, does asking these questions in the first place not only make me a terrible trainer, but a complete and utter fraud as well?
Maybe I’ll never find the answers. But one thing is for sure - being a terrible trainer is what I’m best at.
So if you’ve read this far and you resonate with any of this, then maybe I'm not the only one who sucks. Maybe you're just as terrible at being a client as I am at being a trainer...
In which case we are a match made in heaven, and you should definitely think about hiring me. ;-)
PS: To claim your free consult and find out if we’re a good fit for each other, click the link below. But if you ask me how you can fit that burger into your macros, I won't respond. ;-)