What Not To Do As A Personal Trainer: 10 Things I Avoid

written by paul dermody

A lot of Personal Trainers are the least qualified people to help their clients.

They are robots. Machine-like in their approach. Methodical in their ways. The idea of poor adherence doesn’t exist. They don’t relate to the average person who doesn’t live the all-consuming “fitness” lifestyle.

You have to question whether anything “all-consuming” is even healthy in the first place.

Trainers trying to meet their client’s needs through their own lens qualifies as a definition of irony.

I like to make my own rules. Don’t call me a pathfinder just yet. Hold your praise.

Instead, dear reader, see what you think of the ten things I avoid as a Personal Trainer

1.I don’t listen to absolutes.

There is nothing you have to do. Where you should go next depends on where you are now. I have clients that swapped out full-sugar soda for the diet version to increase adherence, and I have clients that enjoy a cookie guilt-free for the first time in years. Both are their own respective wins. Can I get a woo?

2. Ignore named diets.

I like breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper. Like every other diet, they have a calorie amount. Let me tell you, not having to skip meals and compensate and blah blah blah is the most underrated weight management technique there is. I’ve seen every fad come and go. Ignore the fads and embrace routine. Routine is what we want, not rules.

3. I don’t compare myself to others on the internet.

I do compare myself to people in real life. People worth comparing myself to. People who inspire me to think bigger, and to be better and people who repulse me with bad behaviour. For different reasons, obviously. We are easily fooled online.

4. I’m in no hurry with my goal.

Time doesn’t bend to my impatient demands. Life doesn’t obey my dogmatic beliefs. Science, and that. No process skipping for me (or for you).

5. I don’t make unrealistic promises.

You won’t lose 14lbs in 4 weeks. You may not even lose it in 4 years because you’re not mentally ready yet. I don’t know you. This is your journey. I want you to enjoy it. Explore. Learn. Question your limiting beliefs. Would it even enrich your life? Listen to the client interviews on The Paul Dermody Podcast to get a better insight into this.

6. I don’t conform to industry standards.

No new engagement trends. No sleazy sales tactics. No cold messaging others. I don’t lock clients into contracts. I don’t have an agenda. No special diet or programs. I’m not reinventing the wheel. I just sprinkle my personality on it all, like everyone else. I do sell access to my brain, essentially. Buyer beware.

7. I avoid black-and-white thinking.

Nothing is good or bad. “What about sugar?” I hear you cry. Well, if it is the main ingredient in your diet, it may be contextually bad. If you are diabetic and hypoglycemic it may be contextually good. The context makes the statement good or bad. Without it, it’s incomplete. Just like a knife. I butter bread. Some murder people. It’s not the knife’s fault.

8. I don’t look at a mistake as a bad thing.

I’m respectful of the past, indifferent to the present and optimistic about the future. I’m also pessimistic towards my expectations. If you can read what I’m really trying to say here, this mindset is magic.

9. I question my own traits

When I find myself tempted to criticise the practices of another coach (or human) I ask myself what trait of mine it most resembles. That shuts me up fairly quickly.

10. Avoid “doom bait”.

There aren’t 5 foods that ruin this or 3 exercises that do that, and at this stage, more fool me for not muting the hell out of this brain diarrhoea. If you want to successfully lose weight like my clients Steve (click to read his 100 lb weight loss blog) and Lisa (click to read her 50 lbs weight loss blog) you won’t get there by falling prey to doom bait.

Science tells us what, which is amazing.

But nothing replaces the human element. It can’t be measured.

I have learned people will forgive a lot if they believe you are doing your best to be a good person.

I’ve slept in, missed sessions, offered advice too quickly, failed to listen at times, given bad advice, been (and probably am) a cringe-worthy human and everything you can imagine and I am still blessed with a career and my client base.

A good Trainer should elevate you to be your best self, not make you into their own personal “mini-me”.


Written by Paul

I want you to reconnect with the joy in food through appreciation, choice and autonomy.

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The Paul Dermody Podcast

Check out my weekly podcast. Through the podcast I want to share with you first the fundamentals of nutrition, no fads. On top of that I want you to reconnect with the joy in food through appreciation, choice and autonomy. I will share ideas from expert guests as well as poignant stories from clients of mine from those seeking weight nuetral outcomes all the way to those who have lost over 150 lbs.