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  1. #1
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    A tale of 3 clients...

    Here's a short tale of 3 of my current clients. Before I work with any client I sit them down and explain to them about calorie tracking, learning how to create a deficit, and the importance of staying active while outside of the gym. I explain very carefully that since I only get them for 2-3 hours a week in a gym setting, there is lots of time for them to un-do all the work we do in the gym with poor nutrition or sedentary activity.

    Tom - is a 43 year old male, he's 5'10" and when we started training 4 weeks ago he weighed 287 lbs and coming off several surgeries last year. Got him on a good strength training program, and man does he put in effort with his intensity and drive in every single set. He doesn't mess around, stays focused and works his butt off. When I come into the gym to start our session he's already been on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and is warmed up and ready to go. On his off days he's doing a ton of walking, he's watching his diet carefully and in 4 weeks has dropped 18 lbs. He is pretty much the dream client, he shows up early and has never missed a session.

    Dick - is a 25 year old male, he's 5'9" and weighed about 210 when we started training about 3 weeks ago, also coming off foot surgery last year so he was very inactive for a long time. He also works very hard, pushes himself on every set, with a high level of intensity. He likes to talk a lot between sets, he's generally a chatty guy, but when its time to work he gets after it. He's not quite as driven as Tom but he's managed to stick to his calorie target generally, and has managed to drop about 10 lbs in 3 weeks.

    And that leads us to Jane. Jane is a 34 year old female, who is 5'3" and weighs 250 lbs. She's following a very similar program as Tom and Dick, but her obesity severely limits her body mobility. She's lost exactly 0 lbs in 4 weeks, and all she does is complain that "I hardly eat". But perhaps the biggest problem I have is that she just doesn't know how to exert herself. At the first sign of heavy breathing or perspiration she will immediately reduce her intensity and/or put the weight down and say "I'm tired" or "I can't do any more". I'm not sure how to create the drive and focus that she needs in order to really bear down and get the most out of her sessions.

    Anybody else here ever work with a "Jane" and have any tips?
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Anybody else here ever work with a "Jane" and have any tips?
    have you asked her what she would think or suggest if she were training a 'jane'? i wonder if she has herself held up her mirror (emotional mirror, i mean - like really looked at herself). i wonder about this with trainers in general - how do you ever handle these clients? do you just keep taking their money and spending time and effort - and risking them neg-ing you in socials/to friends whatever - knowing you cannot motivate someone to care for themselves?

    i have seen trainers handle it both ways - keep the client and the money until client moves on and fire client for non-compliance. (like therapists with clients who never improve, i guess)

    i do NOT envy you this position.

    do you do regular 'assess where we are today' type things every 3-6 weeks? if so - would wonder how the janes reply. like hostile or teary bc they didnt do their part....sorry dude - no recommendations - just commiserating.
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    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Its definitely a challenge. She paid for 10 sessions and so I thought she might just get through her 10 and then quit, but nope, she said she's going to keep going with the 3x a week sessions but I think its really only so she can tell herself she's going to the gym and justify that she's doing "something", but TBH she really isn't getting anything out of it.

    I thought about just flipping into boot camp mode and just working the piss out of her, which I easily know how to do, but I'm wondering if she'll just quit and leave me a bad review saying "I was too mean".
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    Registered User Darkius's Avatar
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    I would start by explaining the objective of the set, what it should feel like, what discomfort is good (broad mild burning, heavy breathing), what discomfort is bad (pain in joints, muscle feeling out of track), etc, covering many possibilities. I once coached an anorexic classmate to do dumbbell chest press with 5 pounds each arm. She never told me it hurt, and I never told her not to push through that kind of pain. At rep 10 she suddenly stopped and said it hurt too much to continue.


    For food, show her a food log, ask her what kinds of foods she eats, start filling in a table for her, tell her which ones to not eat and how much protein she must add, then ask her to fill in the rest at home and bring the log next time. Tell her she might fall off track, but that logging stuff every time will make it easier to build discipline.


    You can point out her lapses a few times and watch carefully how she reacts. First sign of annoyance, switch modes to just taking her money. The fact she wants to complain about not eating much tells me she may bail regardless or blame you later. Passing her off to someone else early might be the best way to avoid a bad review.




    As for the talkative one, he might be lonely. Many older people are. As long as he talks about decent topics, let him talk. He is losing weight. No need to stop him from having fun unlesd you think it is highly detrimental to his results.
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    Registered User Darkius's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Its definitely a challenge. She paid for 10 sessions and so I thought she might just get through her 10 and then quit, but nope, she said she's going to keep going with the 3x a week sessions but I think its really only so she can tell herself she's going to the gym and justify that she's doing "something", but TBH she really isn't getting anything out of it.

    I thought about just flipping into boot camp mode and just working the piss out of her, which I easily know how to do, but I'm wondering if she'll just quit and leave me a bad review saying "I was too mean".

    It is very possible she just wants a good looking trainer. She might think that is the closest she will get. She might have no goal of improving and be very willing to keep paying you to watch her half lift and listen to her talk. She might even stick around as you go boot camp mode, as long as you sound marine corps rather than nit picky / disappointed. You decide if you need the money.
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    I would start by....
    i suspect our humble OP has done all of this and much, much more.



    @squid - idk - sucks dude - does she seem satisfied with the lack of progression?
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    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post
    i suspect our humble OP has done all of this and much, much more.

    @squid - idk - sucks dude - does she seem satisfied with the lack of progression?
    No and that's what really gets to me. She's my second session after Dick, and she saw how he looked yesterday after our session and even had the wherewithal to ask me "how come I don't look all dead and sweaty like him when my sessions are done?". And I just wanted to look her straight in the eye and say "because you don't work hard", but I had to bite my tongue because that definitely wouldn't have gone over well. Instead I just said "well he's very intense and driven, and it takes time to work up to that point".

    She doesn't seem to have any interest at all in tracking her food. We talked about her daily diet, but she's very vague and says "all I do is drink coffee for breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch, and a salad for dinner", and I tried to explain that a coffee was not zero calorie if using cream and sugar (which she is), and a sandwich could be 500 calories or 1500 calories, so you need to be very specific about what you're putting on it, and things like salad dressing and other salad toppings can be extremely high calorie. But she just kind of blew me off and seemed like she was starting to get annoyed. :/
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    .....seemed like she was starting to get annoyed. :/
    ive never really known janes in person - like we dont end up being friends or whatever - so i really cant imagine. always had a sense of competition between my friends and myself - they were all also athletes - and in general the non-athlete group didnt seem interested in friendships. as an adult - same kind of thing - like the people who were repelled by me might have been janes. not saying im special - just that as a friend - i think i come off as intense and the other side doesnt really want to deal with me?

    with a client - and in a profession that requires clients to have and use their commitment, willpower, athletic endeavor - it must just deflate you....

    even my heavier friends who were not athletes - they were like your toms and dicks...

    perhaps she needs a friend - and feels she has found one in you?
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    NASM-CPT xsquid99's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post

    with a client - and in a profession that requires clients to have and use their commitment, willpower, athletic endeavor - it must just deflate you....

    even my heavier friends who were not athletes - they were like your toms and dicks...

    perhaps she needs a friend - and feels she has found one in you?
    Its definitely deflating. I think she really just has no idea what intensity level is required or how much more she is capable of. I'm wondering if I should do a few demonstrations in front of her of the level of intensity that I'm looking for so that she can actually read my body language and see what I'm expecting out of her. I think I may try that with her tomorrow and see if that helps "wake her up".
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    that sounds like a plan....or allow earlier client to run late to show her 'on accident'
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post
    that sounds like a plan....or allow earlier client to run late to show her 'on accident'
    Well, I sat her down and told her that I didn't think she was reaching her whole potential with her intensity. Of course it was met with "I'm doing my best", and "well its not like I'm not trying" etc. I explained to her that there are visual clues that I'm looking for when watching a client get through a set, including stress on your face, heavier breathing, perspiration, etc. Then I had her watch me do a set of leg presses, and I went to a true almost max effort RPE 9.5 or so, and the look on her face was just pure mortification. She's just like "I'm not doing that", when I asked why she said he was too embarrassed to work to the point where she had to make "an ugly face", which why she said she stops when things start getting difficult.

    Ahhhh the life of a trainer.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    too embarrassed to work to the point where she had to make "an ugly face", which why she said she stops when things start getting difficult.

    Ahhhh the life of a trainer.
    is she willing to now? holy crap - im certain i've never known my 'ugly face' and me no care - just wowowowkwokwkekelwkkwkwkkwkwkwkwwowowowowow
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post
    is she willing to now? holy crap - im certain i've never known my 'ugly face' and me no care - just wowowowkwokwkekelwkkwkwkkwkwkwkwwowowowowow
    The most I was able to push her yesterday was to the point where she was just barely opening her mouth to breathe out, but maintaining a completely straight face, probably RPE 3, maybe 4 at most.
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    There are guys at the gym who grunt and moan during reps as though they are having sex, and then throw the big weights down on the floor to make their presence further known. But you got the student who is worried people will think her face is ugly.



    I don't know if I make faces or not. I definitely breath a lot more and have to catch my breath after each set. I don't think I sweat from upper body lifting. I just get that from cardio.
    Another cue is my pace slowing as I near the end of a set, especially the last few reps, though I don't go all the way to failure.

    I think funny faces happen more when someone goes to failure or is doing a final sprint in a race.
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    There are guys at the gym who grunt and moan during reps as though they are having sex, and then throw the big weights down on the floor to make their presence further known. But you got the student who is worried people will think her face is ugly.



    I don't know if I make faces or not. I definitely breath a lot more and have to catch my breath after each set. I don't think I sweat from upper body lifting. I just get that from cardio.
    Another cue is my pace slowing as I near the end of a set, especially the last few reps, though I don't go all the way to failure.

    I think funny faces happen more when someone goes to failure or is doing a final sprint in a race.
    Yeah, but she's also capable of speaking in full sentences DURING her sets without any struggle at all, which she often does.
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Here's a short tale of 3 of my current clients. Before I work with any client I sit them down and explain to them about calorie tracking, learning how to create a deficit, and the importance of staying active while outside of the gym. I explain very carefully that since I only get them for 2-3 hours a week in a gym setting, there is lots of time for them to un-do all the work we do in the gym with poor nutrition or sedentary activity.

    Tom - is a 43 year old male, he's 5'10" and when we started training 4 weeks ago he weighed 287 lbs and coming off several surgeries last year. Got him on a good strength training program, and man does he put in effort with his intensity and drive in every single set. He doesn't mess around, stays focused and works his butt off. When I come into the gym to start our session he's already been on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and is warmed up and ready to go. On his off days he's doing a ton of walking, he's watching his diet carefully and in 4 weeks has dropped 18 lbs. He is pretty much the dream client, he shows up early and has never missed a session.

    Dick - is a 25 year old male, he's 5'9" and weighed about 210 when we started training about 3 weeks ago, also coming off foot surgery last year so he was very inactive for a long time. He also works very hard, pushes himself on every set, with a high level of intensity. He likes to talk a lot between sets, he's generally a chatty guy, but when its time to work he gets after it. He's not quite as driven as Tom but he's managed to stick to his calorie target generally, and has managed to drop about 10 lbs in 3 weeks.

    And that leads us to Jane. Jane is a 34 year old female, who is 5'3" and weighs 250 lbs. She's following a very similar program as Tom and Dick, but her obesity severely limits her body mobility. She's lost exactly 0 lbs in 4 weeks, and all she does is complain that "I hardly eat". But perhaps the biggest problem I have is that she just doesn't know how to exert herself. At the first sign of heavy breathing or perspiration she will immediately reduce her intensity and/or put the weight down and say "I'm tired" or "I can't do any more". I'm not sure how to create the drive and focus that she needs in order to really bear down and get the most out of her sessions.

    Anybody else here ever work with a "Jane" and have any tips?
    Inb4 Jane discovers the fat acceptance movement
    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.

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    I paid attention to my signs this workout.

    Turns out I do sweat during upper body lifts. I just don't drip sweat like during cardio. My gym is at least 72 degrees.

    I definitely don't grunt. Just heavy, audible breathing. I forget if I'm supposed to exhale during power and inhale during return, but I get my rhythm going.

    During my warmup, (trainer found me upstairs before I got off the cycle) I conversed with my trainer about my goals and limitations 3-4 words at a time. Ended up being a longer warm up.
    Last edited by Darkius; 09-30-2021 at 05:47 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    Turns out I do sweat during upper body lifts. I just don't drip sweat like during cardio.
    i was gonna mention this before - but decided maybe im the freak - thanks for the check in i laughed
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    Today during lunges I was definitely making faces, and glad I only had to do 10 reps. I think she even miscounted in my favor a few times, which I was glad of. Depends on the exercise though. I don't recall making faces during curls, but I'll find out next time.

    Resistance training is very cardiovascular. I felt the lunges in my lungs, half the intensity of my cross country days, but intense enough.
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    Great Video on the subject.

    https://youtu.be/9rntl-L8HWc
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Great Video on the subject.

    https://youtu.be/9rntl-L8HWc
    His description matches a set done to failure. He also says not every set need be that far, but some should.

    I've heard that the last set of an exercise should go to failure, or that the last set of a muscle group should, or that failure for a muscle group should be done once a week.

    Going to failure works the central nervous system, which is different from delayed onset muscle soreness, which means the muscle itself was extra challenged.

    I agree with what he said but just am unsure how often is best for the CNS. I do think one needs to go to failure often enough to know they are making progress, just as getting sore here and there proves one is indeed challenging their muscles.

    Tricky part is I can wait till a muscle is no longer sore, but how do I know when the CNS is recharged? A burned out CNS can be mistaken for other stuff. I guess if performance drops, focus on recovery not more lifts.
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    I just got back from my first upper body session.

    Unanticipated grunts do happen sometimes when failure is neared. But they would not be heard across the room. I doubt someone in the next station over would notice them over the music unless they were being nosey.

    Anxiety before sets also happens, though I think that is only on repeat sets when muscles feel like they might still be recovering.

    I don't recall sweating this particular session, though I have on previous workouts. I think room temperature has something to do with it. I did a lot of sets to failure, and my muscles still feel like they are in oxygen debt or something even 10 minutes later.
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    Originally Posted by Darkius View Post
    His description matches a set done to failure. He also says not every set need be that far, but some should.

    I've heard that the last set of an exercise should go to failure, or that the last set of a muscle group should, or that failure for a muscle group should be done once a week.

    Going to failure works the central nervous system, which is different from delayed onset muscle soreness, which means the muscle itself was extra challenged.

    I agree with what he said but just am unsure how often is best for the CNS. I do think one needs to go to failure often enough to know they are making progress, just as getting sore here and there proves one is indeed challenging their muscles.

    Tricky part is I can wait till a muscle is no longer sore, but how do I know when the CNS is recharged? A burned out CNS can be mistaken for other stuff. I guess if performance drops, focus on recovery not more lifts.
    I (almost) never purposely train to failure and I agree with everything in that video.

    Most people have no idea what actual failure looks and feels like. Just training close to failure (1-2 reps away from failure) should be really tough. And the increase in challenge from 2 to 1 rep away from failure is much greater than from 3 to 2 reps away from failure.

    If you are really training hard, you should hit failure occasionally «by accident» IMO. If it never happens you are further from failure than you think.

    I find it useful to film myself training. A good sign of approaching failure is that the rep tempo slows down during the set. As you are approaching failure the rep tempo slows down dramatically. A true 1 rep away from failure is a grind.

    This is how I discovered I was further away from failure on my lower body training than my upper body training even though I thought I was training with the same intensity. Apparently I wasn’t enough of a masochist to go as close to failure when training legs as when training my upper body!
    Last edited by EiFit91; 10-09-2021 at 11:43 AM.
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    I (almost) never purposely train to failure and I agree with everything in that video.

    Most people have no idea what actual failure looks and feels like. Just training close to failure (1-2 reps away from failure) should be really tough. And the increase in challenge from 2 to 1 rep away from failure is much greater than from 3 to 2 reps away from failure.

    If you are really training hard, you should hit failure occasionally «by accident» IMO. If it never happens you are further from failure than you think.

    I find it useful to film myself training. A good sign of approaching failure is that the rep tempo slows down during the set. As you are approaching failure the rep tempo slows down dramatically. A true 1 rep away from failure is a grind.

    This is how I discovered I was further away from failure on my lower body training than my upper body training even though I thought I was training with the same intensity. Apparently I wasn’t enough of a masochist to go as close to failure when training legs as when training my upper body!
    That makes perfect sense. I found during my recent workouts with my trainer that when I think I no longer have enough power for another rep, if I really concentrate and use my central nervous system, I can summon a few more reps. Sometimes my belief I've maxed looks believable enough on my face that she ends the set, when I then realize I could have gotten another out.


    Lower weight high rep is much trickier. If feels like failure never comes. Just slowing down the pace a bit is enough to recharge and then pump out more. She had me do a plank that she hoped would make me fail in 30 seconds, but I was just uncomfortable at 2 minutes. I did not want to spend another 2 minutes even more uncomfortable and so ended that set. I like how weighted sets end the discomfort sooner.
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