I’ve had my fair share of gym memberships. In various gyms I’ve seen great trainers, and I’ve seen some down right horrible trainers just based on how the client responds to the trainer. I don’t hide the fact that I’m a personal trainer, but I don’t flaunt it either. In the course of conversations with other gym members, I’ve found that many trainers often leave clients with more questions than they give answers, and when I’m asked as a personal trainer to clarify something that their trainer has told them, I do my best to give an honest after getting more information. Without sounding pompous, the case has been that more often than not I was able to more effectively answer a question for another trainer’s client than was the trainer.
Some trainers would consider me giving these answers as “undercutting” them or trying to take their business, but I make it a point not to solicit other trainers’ clients as a professional courtesy. What is the most professional way to deal with situations like this, and do you think that it is wrong to simply clarify something for another trainer’s client if that client wasn’t satisfied with the answer that the trainer gave him/her? Also, do you think that as professionals we should just stand idly by and watch other trainers’ clients have less than fulfilling fitness experiences? Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Concerns? I’m open!
It all depends on the situation. I know a lot of new trainers want to jump right in and let everyone know that they know something about training the body, etc. My rule of thumb is that almost every person in the gym is going to be getting advice from someone. When I first started exercising at Holiday Health Spa (Now Bally’s) in the mid to late 1980’s, everyone in their mother was telling me something different and I tried it. After a lot of trial and error, going to college and learning about bio-mechanics and anatomical kinesiology and certifications, I finally learned. If a trainer is with their client, then I do not step in because that is their client. If you know that trainer and the client knows you, I still will not say anything. If the trainer asks me a question in front of the client and it is a rapport between all three of us, then it is okay, but only if I am asked my opinion.
On the flip side, if I someone is training by themselves and they are doing something that is either doing to hurt them in the short-term or will eventually cause where and tear on their body, I will sometimes mention something.
As Wendy said…when you’re a Group Fitness Instructor and a Personal Trainer – people tend to ask you questions because they know you from Group. I recently had this issue…a class participant told me her Trainer told her that cardio classes were “worthless”…her friend chimed in…”yeah, what do you think”. It was so hard to hold my tongue…but I had to stop and think and realize I was hearing only one side of the conversation – AND more than likely he didn’t say useless the way she did (or perhaps not at all). I prefer to use the “do unto others” rule – to maintain my integrity and ensure that no one can speak ill of my professionalism.
My response was that since I am not her Trainer and don’t know her goals or the training program he has her on, I cannot speak to that comment. I suggested she talk to her Trainer to get clafication, tell him of her concerns and perhaps he’ll create a plan that incorporates some classes into her program since she’s gonna do them anyway. Classes are not just about the workout for most women, and she needs to speak with him about why she “needs” the classes.
But of course, if she’s not satisfied with her trainer or the answers he provides to an honest question, its within her rights to look for another one.
*oh, one last point – be careful to whom you offer advice about their current trainer. That same person who is so “sincerely” seeing your advice because he/she doesn’t like what his/her trainer said – could be the same person who will run to another trainer when YOU say something he/she doesn’t like.
Good discussion! To summarize a few of the good points others made: -wait for the right opportunity to give advice-don’t be a trainer to another trainer’s client
-don’t point fingers
-encourage clients to ask their trainer questions and find a voice for their own needs without being rude
-provide friendly, casual advice that does not conflict with their trainer’s program
Anything other ideas?
Always answer questions for which you can present yourself as a certified expert. Answering questions is never “undercutting”. If the client’s trainer confronts you simply present your answer to them. You may have a perspective on a subject they never thought of and your conversation about the topic can only serve to enhance both of your knowledge.
On the other hand, tread very lightly if the client of another trainer asks you advice on exercise technique or other health related questions specific to that individual. You don’t know their history, their abilities or their contraindications enough to give them a reasonable suggestion on altered technique, diet, or similar subject. In this circumstance you can give some ideas but always refer them back to their own trainer for direct advice.
Incidentally, the only true undercutting I’ve seen never works out well for the offender because they are quickly shunned by staff and members – ruining their business.
I believe if you are asked a question and it is within your professional scope of knowledge, there is no reason to not answer it with complete honesty. As other have mentioned, it is important to obtain as much information regarding the nature of the question as possible. It could be that the other trainer offered sound advice, however it was simply misunderstood by the client.
If you are truly concerned about undercutting another trainer and taking his/her business, the simply way to avoid that is to not take on that particular client. That way you can answer any questions she/he may have, but you are unavailable to take them on as a client.