Trainers and Clients: Listen to Each Other - Erin's Inside Job

Trainers and Clients: Listen to Each Other

It seems like forever since I’ve talked to you guys about fitness.

I do some freelance writing for other sites, so I’ve been writing a good amount of exercise and fitness posts, just not on here. Whoops.

I also don’t write about fitness in the conventional way of prescribing workouts or talking about training plans (although that’s ALL I used to do when I started). The more I work in the field, the more I realize that fitness is such an individual thing, a theme I’ve been finding in many other areas of life as well.

This post is written for both trainers and clients. Just like in any relationship, communication is key. The better you get at listening to each other, the more successful the outcome.

Listen to your clients

What prompted me to write this post was the back-and-forth debate that lifting weights makes women look bulky. I may not hold the popular opinion here, as there are tons of posts and articles that argue the opposite, but from my personal experience that statement does hold some truth.

I have an athletic build. I am short and muscular. When I was running as my primary source of exercise, I was leaner. As I’ve now been doing Crossfit for around five months, my predisposition to put on muscle has been accentuated.

Although they are more muscular, my arms are also larger. I no longer fit in many of my jeans and shorts because my legs and butt have gained more muscle. Several of my friends who I work out with remain muscular, but are also much leaner than I am.

Not every woman who lifts weights is going to “bulk up,” but due to your genetics, you’re going to develop differently.

Here’s my point.

If a client comes to you and says “I don’t want to go much heavier in weight because my arms will bulk up,” listen to them. Don’t immediately dismiss the statement because it’s a “myth that’s been disproved over the years.” Often clients know their bodies and have a good idea what works and what doesn’t; forcing them to do something they don’t want to is going to lose you a client.

If a client is brand new to exercise, it may be a good idea to dispel some of those fitness myths and see how his or her training goes. If they feel like they’re achieving results they don’t like, listen to the feedback and adjust accordingly.

Listen to your trainer

I suggest working with a trainer the same way you do with other medical professionals — with an open mind.

Just like you are in control of your own health, you are also in control of your own fitness goals and results. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and give feedback. Any well-educated trainer should be able to tell you what muscle group a certain exercise is working, what the difference is between different styles of training, and any number of related questions.

If your trainer is doing the same workout with every one of their clients, they’re likely doing them a disservice. Each client has individual goals and what works for one may not work for another. Listen to your trainer, but don’t be afraid to question things.


Ultimately, it’s your job as an individual is to convey your expectations of training with your trainer. If you’re a trainer it’s super important to listen to those expectations. Doing so will not only ensure a longer relationship, but a happy one at that. For both parties, expectations may change and it’s necessary to continually check in on goals and feelings throughout the process.

What are your thoughts from either perspective?

6 comments on “Trainers and Clients: Listen to Each Other

  1. I’ve never gone to a fitness instructor, nor am I one myself. But it really makes sense to listen to your clients. I would be so turned off if my trainer didn’t regard my thoughts at all, and it would really make me question my trust for them!

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  2. Love that you presented this balance. Listening to each other is so important, because it can be hard if you both have an agenda, but you have a hard time agreeing with one another. I haven’t had an official trainer, but it seems like this could apply in a way to a nutritionist/client relationship. It’s been a good lesson for me to learn to listen to and take the advice of my dietitian.
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  3. I’m with you on the “lifting doesn’t make women bulky” argument. I tend to put on muscle fairly quickly, and I also notice the difference in my build depending on my mix of running and crossfit. More importantly, though, think the response of “oh, but you won’t get bulky!” bypasses a deeper conversation around the subject and perpetuates the “muscles are bad” refrain.

    I think the response to “I don’t want to get bulky” is this: are you working out to look a certain way, or are you working out to achieve some specific performance level? Neither is a right or wrong answer, it’s just a way of framing a client’s goals. Maybe there’s potential for some people to work on mindset around their bodies, maybe not.

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