Photo by Sven Mieke / Unsplash

Did you get dropkicked by your fitness trainer? One pro trainer weighs in about what you might want to do about it

Donna has lost patience. In her late forties or early fifties, she's got the tight, slim body of someone who has spent much of her life in the fitness industry. Frankly, however, she's had it.

I was sitting with Donna yesterday at lunch during a travel blogger's conference. She's the wife of one of my editors, and I am in Kennewick for three days meeting other bloggers. I'd asked her if she wouldn't mind adding her expertise to my list of experts for articles on Walkabout from time to time.

She didn't mind, but she sure had a lot to say about personal training these days. It's important enough to share with you, for she echoes what others have also told me over recent years.

First, let me preface this. Recently a good friend told me about megawatt star 75- year-old Joan MacDonald of Ottawa, who is having a moment. Well deserved, but she is now an "Influencer" with all the hype and bells and whistles that go with it. People have climbed onto her bandwagon, often not bothering to note the key aspects of her story which speak both to the commitment (workouts seven days a week with a personal trainer, in this case, her daughter, how handy) her eating choices (not inexpensive) likely some touchup surgery for the belly skin (as I wrote before I'd have done it too but it helps to be transparent about it) and kindly, the FIVE YEARS it took her to get where she is.

She's got more than a million followers, she's a THING now, and all these folks are so motivated by her example. Yes. FINE. Until you realize that five years for Joan, with her trainer daughter and seven days a week and her expensive organic foods and all her pricey supplements are not sustainable for you. AND you realize that your body doesn't respond like hers does (or better, who knows) for whatever reason. I could go on. Here was that original story:

HOLY JOAN! Why This Story Should Come With a Warning Label
As with all Cinderella stories, most of us handily forget about the coal-hauling and chimney-sweeping before Ms.’Rella got swept off her feet

But you want that transformed body. So you march off and hire yourself a trainer. And so many folks want to be Joan overnight without the work, the diet, the commitment.  

Here's where Donna comes in.

She's fed up. And she's been firing people right and left. If your trainer fired you, this might be why.

Donna gave me multiple examples of stories from various places in Tampa where she's worked, where she was doing Pilates or fitness training.

One woman, who was in her sixties, would show up regularly for her sessions. Over the course of the years, she made her way through the stable of trainers until it was Donna's turn. Much like dating in small towns.

She was rounded, short and a regular customer. She loved to take a walk to the local coffee shop after her workout, which Donna assumed was additional work to burn off calories.

At one point she called in and said she'd be out for three weeks, which, since she was an antique hunter, wasn't out of character. When she turned up three weeks later, Donna was shocked. She'd managed to put on at least fifteen additional pounds on an already overweight body.

Turns out she had bought some sort of fake "fat burning pills" from her chiropractor. Said chiropractor convinced her that since the fat pills were going to be working their magic, she couldn't be overstressing her body by working out. Oh heavens no.

No  matter that if such fat pills actually worked, said chiropractor and everyone else who made and sold said pills would be trillionaires many times over, but I digress.

Donna was irritated for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that apparently the woman somehow believed that she (Donna) and the rest of the staff were giving magic fat burning pills to everyone else BUT her.

The idiocy of this boggles the mind. Then Donna actually checked out where the woman went on her walk: to a coffee shop, for a drink containing thousands of calories and sugar, thereby likely undoing weeks of hard work in the diet arena.


She gave me other examples. Like so many of us, Donna has had it up to HERE with people demanding the magic pill, the EASY button. People who, simply  by virtue of hiring her sometimes very pricey services, expect the simple fact of a financial transaction to ensure weight loss (she refuses to take weight loss clients any more for this and other reasons).

People would learn exercises and not do them on other days, or eat so much that they would undermine the hard work to get them healthy.

She was conducting an input interview with one woman client in her sixties, and explained the kinds of changes the woman would need to make in order to improve both her fitness and health markers.

"Oh, but I can't give up my wine and my favorite foods," the woman said. Donna leaned back and bit her lip in frustration.

"Then I'm not the trainer for you."


Baby men and women, masquerading as adults, waddle into the Y every day and demand that some uber-fit trainer transform their bodies overnight into tight, light, oiled machines without any kind of real work or sacrifice on their part.

It's enough to make you quit the business entirely. Except that trainers like Donna, and in our community, JennyB and Nurit, are so desperately needed.

There are very few situations more frustrating than pouring your heart, soul and expertise into a client's well-being, then having them immediately go out and torpedo those very efforts, and then having the client return to you and ask you to fix it or take responsibility for their own moral failures.

That makes us, as said client, a waste of time and an insult to their intelligence.

Fired. Justifiably.

I shared another story that I'd written previously and will again with you here in case you missed it.

My friend Kevin (not his real name) is a military guy in his late sixties. He trains for skiing, is a runner, cyclist and much more. He got certified as a personal trainer some years back. At his gym in San Francisco, a woman friend asked him to take her husband on as a client.

He agreed. The man, morbidly obese and his late fifties, showed up regularly. Kevin got all the man's health markers and went to work. They worked out together regularly.

The man continued to pound on the weight, his VO2 and heartrate, blood pressure and other numbers continued to worsen.

Kevin confronted his client, who admitted that after every session he went out drinking, smoking cigars and stuffing huge steaks down  several nights a week. The man figured that the workouts gave him permission to keep doing what he had always done, and then some, since of course, he was working out so hard.

That's precisely the same way that I noted so many folks using their Fitbit numbers to measure how many more Snickers bars they could consume based on the number of steps they took. No matter that said Snickers bars aren't exactly the kinds of calories the body can use to make healthy cells.

Kevin fired him after a few months, with apologies to his female friend. The man was determined, and that would be his death sentence.

As someone regularly accused of being "so lucky" that I have a high metabolism (not in this life I don't, it's quite low), that I was "just born this way" (no, Sparky, I have photos of me approaching 200 lbs) or other ripe insults to the immense amount of work I've put into being healthy this life, I'm with Donna.

There is increasing power behind one of my favorite mantras about life, which is

Do the Work.

Want results? Do the work. Make the mistakes. Fail. Fall down. Break your nose. Get back up. Do the damned work.

At this conference, I watched one of the best speakers deliver critically important information to a room of just a few of us while the majority of noobs and rookies were salivating over at a breakout session on how to work with brands. They aren't EVEN ready to do that yet, but just like everywhere, people are jockeying to get jobs and do work for which they aren't prepared.

Just like in my world, we increasingly see people show up for adventures for which they are woefully unprepared.

Just like...well, you get it.

What is sad is that the resources are there for all of us. My new friend Ray Blakney, who is a very successful serial entrepreneur, told me the other night that he wanted to write a book about how he does what he does. He also said that what his potential readers don't want to read about is the seven years of hard slogging work for him to achieve that success for each company he builds and sells.

Recently, Richard Branson reached out to him to partner on some very high-level work. Blakney is barely forty.

You want summa dat? You want someone at that level to tap you on the shoulder? DO THE DAMNED WORK to earn it.


If you don't want your trainer, coach, mentor, teacher to fire your ass, then please:

Do.  The. Damned. Work.

82 years old and on the ball, credit: JennyB

Want that body? Do the work. Want a slimmer figure? Do the work. Want that contract? Do the work. Want to stand on the summit?


Or, kindly, you're fired.