An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers


One thing I have realized over the past few months is that Facebook, Twitter and this blog allow me to share my writings with lots of people all over the world. As a result, I’ve been reprinting pieces I wrote in the past few years that might not have been widely read. Here’s one I wrote about three years ago that still applies to day.

” An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers

I need to take a moment to apologize to all the personal trainers who have ever attended a seminar I spoke at or read either of my two books. Why do I feel the need to apologize? Because up until two years ago I had never done personal training. My entire career until two years ago had been spent training groups of athletes. Unfortunately my lack of experience in the field didn’t stop me from telling personal trainers all over the country how to do their jobs. Why shouldn’t I, I’ve trained some of the worlds greatest athletes haven’t I?

We have all heard the old saying “walk a mile in my shoes”. Well in the last two years I have walked a few miles in the shoes of the personal trainer and have come to a few conclusions. The shoes weren’t nearly as comfortable as I thought they would be. In fact for the first few months, they didn’t seem to fit at all.

What I quickly realized is that strength and conditioning coaches, performance enhancement specialists and physical therapists should be careful when telling personal trainers how to do their jobs. Why? Because they have no idea how difficult the job is. Strength coaches and performance enhancement specialists have huge advantages over personal trainers but the advantages are not in skills or education.

The biggest advantage is time. One thing you take for granted when working in the world of sports is time. Young athletes have lots of time. Professional athletes in the off-season really have lots of time. The average personal training client does not have lots of time. For the client time and money are always issues.

Trying to make an impact on a person who works a desk job all week is far more challenging than trying to train an athlete. The average personal training client will get two to three one hour workouts a week. The average athletic client probably works out at least 6-8 hours a week. This means that the strength and conditioning coach gets on average one hundred percent more time than the personal trainer. Think about it, twice as much time.

Now combine twice as much time with the really efficient nervous system of the athlete and you have a prescription for success. On the flip side, think about having half as much time with a client who has limited athletic ability. Maybe not a prescription for failure but, a much tougher job.

I think those of us in the performance enhancement world have an inflated view of ourselves. This applies particularly to those of us who have the privilege of working with professional athletes. Sometimes we think of ourselves as geniuses. In fact our clients talent makes our job very easy. They have time, and they learn fast. Often all you have to do is show an athlete the technique and they will immediately do the exercise better than you demonstrated. The reality in my mind is that a good personal trainer is harder to find than a good strength and conditioning coach and the job of the personal trainer is far more difficult than I ever thought. Hope you accept my apology.”

7 Responses to “An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers”

  1. […] in a customer’s phase, is actually useful. I can recall an epic post from Mike Boyle titled An Apology Letter to Personal Trainers where he basically states that the personal trainer has a hard time training clients with only […]

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    The reach of my work continues to amaze me. I love that I have readers in places like Singapore.

  3. Hi Mike, i’m from Singapore & have been a personal rainer for 10 years. I’ve benefited so much from your book and your articles. It takes a great man to apologize. Much respect to you. What I have adopted is your Functional Training Continuum and that can be applied to PTs or Coaches regardless. So, more Power to you Mike! Cheers & God bless!

  4. Thanks! That was really nice to read, especially from such a smart guy!

  5. mboyle1959 Says:

    Thanks Kirby. Great to see you in Austin. Sorry we didn’t get to talk.

  6. Mike,
    You’ve always said that when you learn something new, that you are an early adapter. I believe there is something to be learned from all strength and conditioning disciplines. We all should walk in the others shoes for a while. There is a lot to be learned from each one and each step.

    Looking Forward…Kirby

  7. Takes a big man to admit that and further, to expand on that point. Respect, Mike!

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