After a career of truly making a difference, a beloved family physician determined it was time to end the working season of his life. Before he officially retired, he set up a final appointment with all of his patients.
This is his goodbye:
“I’ve loved being your doctor and I’m proud of the level of health and happiness that you have achieved under my care. But now that I’m retiring, I want you to know that there isn’t another doctor who will care for you like I have. There are a few other doctors at this clinic, but it will take them a while to get to know you… and quite frankly, I don’t think they’re very talented. If you ever get sick again, I’m honestly worried about how you’ll recover without me.” ___________________
Clearly, this doctor is nuts! Behavior like that would actually harm the very people he claimed to have cared for.
As unprofessional and unbelievable as situation like that is, I’ve been disappointed to see some Personal Trainers behave this way as they leave their role in the fitness industry! Discouraging your clients from continuing to work with a trainer is the best way to take your entire fitness career, everything you’ve worked to achieve, down in flames.
Why this happens As far as I know, there is only one reason that a Personal Trainer would act this way: EGO. And we’ve all met Personal Trainers with more ego than a public toilet seat has germs.
Trainers might justify acting like this because they feel that they have worked hard to find and nurture their clients and know what is best for them. Now that they’re leaving, they feel it will serve their reputation if all of their clients refuse to work with another trainer… because… well… any other trainer is clearly inferior.
Personal Trainers who position themselves in such a way take the value out of fitness and place it on themselves. Doing this leaves their clients feeling hopeless when their trainer decides to move on.
Why this should never happen What’s the reason that you got into the fitness industry in the first place? Your top answer should be some version of this: TO HELP PEOPLE.
If that’s true and if your approach to training has led you to mislead people into thinking that you have some magical method by which you and only you can help them to achieve fitness, it’s time to check your ego and your level honesty. Either make some changes to the message you’re preaching, or get out of the industry now for the sake of the people that you are lying to.
Fitness pros help people in two main ways:
Sound programming based on currently available scientific principles
Accountability offered to support real habit change
These are the ways that fitness is truly going to help another person to reach a higher level of wellness and satisfaction. If you are selling something else, please stop now. Set your ego aside and start serving other people instead of yourself. If you don’t, you will ultimately hurt those under your care.
Warning signs If clients ever make comments like: ‘I could never do this without YOU,’ ‘YOU are the the only trainer for me,’ ‘I would never work with a trainer other than YOU,’ alarms should go off inside your head!
Stay humble and redirect their attention to the process that is actually helping them, for their own lasting good… Unless you can promise them that you will be around to train them forever. And if you can, please share your mystical elixir of life and ability to control the future!
The bottom line When it is time for you to exit this exciting and rewarding industry, remind your clients that the best compliment they can give you is to continue in the process of fitness and training under the oversight of a new Personal Trainer. In fact, show the depth of your care for them by begging them not to stop the process of fitness just because you’ve decided to quit training it.
This way, if you ever leave the fitness industry, your career will continue to bring benefits to the clients you care for and who have been generous enough to have allowed you to support them.
Nate Sleger is a coach, author, and the Director of a Personal Training department in Wisconsin’s lovely Fox River Valley area. He is also the owner and founder of Even Better Coaching, a company designed to support entrepreneurs in the health and wellness industry.