Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-My Mistakes As A New Trainer-


I just started a thread over at the Super-Trainer Forums so the more experienced trainers could share stories of what they did wrong as young trainers, and the up-and-coming trainers could hopefully learn from our mistakes!  If you click on the link, it will open the thread in a new window!  

Here’s my list, which is by no means exhaustive!

1. Trained every client the same way, for the most part. I was big-time into bodybuilding/fitness competition-style training, and it’s all I really knew at the time. Machines and free weights.

2. I didn’t put much thought into programming (because I was in the mentality stated above, lol).

3. I wrote out workouts immediately before training a client.

4. I didn’t really emphasize flexibility/mobility training.

5. I dished out waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much personal info/gossip because I was self-conscious and not in a happy place in my life (to be perfectly honest).

6. If a client was a little late, I was a b*tch.

7. I was a b*tch anyway b/c I was starving & overtrained! 😦

8. I cared more about my own workouts than those of my clients.

9. I had tons of ideas but never put them into action b/c I was afraid.

10. I trusted the wrong people (ie a bad business deal that resulted in my “dream” being used and then torn to bits…fortunately I got out without having lots bukoos of money like the other investors did).

11. I was scared to death of new clients and would secretly hope they would have to cancel our first session! I’m serious! What’s crazy is that once a new client got started, everything was fine. Just the fear of the unknown combined with pressure I put on myself.

12. I didn’t maximize the opportunities I was given because I didn’t believe in myself. For example, one of my clients was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a mastectomy and removal of her lymph nodes. Years before this, she had a mild heart attack. She was diagnosed as pre-diabetic after the chemo and also had to deal with lymphedema. I trained this and another client at the same time, and they were friends, so they would chit-chat the entire time & I allowed them to lollygag. I do realize there’s a limit to what we as fitness professionals can do, BUT, I feel I could have done more and served as a better role model. Sad thing is that I was a horrible role model at the time, because I wasn’t healthy myself. 😦 Yes, i’m hard on myself!

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6 responses

  1. Paul

    I am only a fitness enthusiast and lack any formal training besides my time in the Marine Corps. The more I learn about fitness, the greater my awareness of the things I don’t know about. Perhaps for me it is a different situation because I am not supposed to be trained, but I feel better knowing that you too are learning (the process never ends I think).
    My source of information currently comes from trainers like yourself and other enthusiasts that write up articles and post videos. I appreciate what you do and wish I could give back in someway besides my sincere gratitude.

    February 19, 2009 at 7:21 pm

  2. Mel

    I find this information very helpful, so thank you very much for sharing. I will start giving circuit classes in May (if they take off) and see what I am going to be like. BUT, unlike you I have a yoga background and used to give classes in yoga as well, so I have a bit more of a gentle approach 🙂 .
    “I was a b*tch anyway b/c I was starving & overtrained!” At least you noticed and not blamed everything else for it. Not everybody can be that honest with themselves.

    “I was scared to death of new clients and would secretly hope they would have to cancel our first session! I’m serious! What’s crazy is that once a new client got started, everything was fine. Just the fear of the unknown combined with pressure I put on myself.” I have not given any yoga classes since the birth of my daughter which is nearly 3 years ago. I went back about 5 weeks after giving birth for 2 new classes. I was always in a right state with the first new classes. New people, first impression, will they like it … to the degree that my whole but was aching after class because I was so tense (and that in yoga). After given birth I sacred myself that much into the new classes that I had the worst migraines with both of them ever. I never experienced pain like that and never wanted to again. So, out of fear of a repeat attack I pulled out completely. I had to go and see a neurologist as well because after the attacks I walked around with headaches for weeks. He just told me that I was taking on to much too soon after giving birth and my body could not cope. I probably should have gone to see I psychologist as well because of my “fears” of new groups. I feel really stupid about my fears, but can’t just switch them off. At least I don’t give up and push myself over and over again. I will not be beaten by this because it is only the first class. After that I am fine. So, my daughter is in nursery now and I have told the Education Centre that I am ready to come back. I want and also need this. Somebody has taken over the yoga side, but I somehow lost interested in it anyway. When the time is right I will pick it up again, but for now I am more interested in fitness that does not involve a gym.

    I don’t think you are hard on yourself, I think you are honest and take responsibility for your actions. This is where you were at the time and you have obviously learned form those early mistakes and turned them into something more positive. Everybody will make there own and look back at a later time to say: “I could have done this better”. The point is you are doing it now and give good advice to newbie’s like us. Newbie’s! I haven’t even past my first exam yet to become a fitness trainer 😉 .

    Nobody is perfect right from the start and I don’t even think that there is a thing like perfection. We can only get better in an ever evolving world and try to do the best that be can do.
    Have a nice day and keep up the entries. I find them very inspirational for somebody that wants to become a trainer but never ever set food in a gym 🙂 .
    Mel

    February 20, 2009 at 2:50 am

  3. Paul-

    It makes me really happy to serve as a resource for fitness enthusiasts like yourself, who appreciate and utilize the info I provide!!! 🙂 My goal with this blog is to do just that – to help give you guys solid info and exercise progressions. I feel there’s a ton of exercise info here in cyberspace, and it can be overwhelming. I want to make things simpler and help people weed out the misinformation!

    Thanks for being a reader and subscriber, and for your feedback!

    Yours in Health,
    Sarah E. Rippel

    February 20, 2009 at 8:19 am

  4. Mel-

    Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your story!!!! I find the fact that you are pursuing your certification to be very inspiring, and I feel you have a lot to offer as a trainer!

    I like this:
    “Nobody is perfect right from the start and I don’t even think that there is a thing like perfection. We can only get better in an ever evolving world and try to do the best that be can do.”

    I have always said that i’m a “recovering perfectionist.” Up until I was roughly 25 years old, I had this immense fear of failure and had a really hard time because I was constantly striving to be “perfect.” Perfection is an illusion. I can remember being 12 years old and fixing my hair before going to school one morning, and it wouldn’t “fix” just the way I wanted it to. I remember throwing a fit because I was soooo frustrated. Perfectionism is a means of controlling ones life when things around them are out of control…and the same goes for anorexia. The quest for perfection is a sad and lonely road, and it is usually the case that if someone is outwardly “perfect”, their inside is a complete mess.

    Let me know if you have any questions about specific topics that will be covered in your certification exam! Maybe I can shed some light on a few things! 🙂

    Yours in Health,
    Sarah E. Rippel

    February 20, 2009 at 8:26 am

  5. Sarah,

    Great tips. I appreciate your humility and honesty. This is not a plug for my book, but I emptied my brain and published it in the form of a book titled, “A Trainers Dozen: 13 Principles for Personal Training Success” and got the chance to present at FitComXpo, Ryan Lee’s Bootcamp. Mike Boyle, etc.. said it was a great training resource for Personal Trainers, do you want me to send you a complimentary copy?

    All the best,
    Jimi

    February 21, 2009 at 3:56 am

    • Hey Jimi!
      Thank you!!!! I would LOVE a copy of “A Trainer’s Dozen”!!!!! I really enjoyed your presentation at the 2009 FitComXpo and I feel many trainers would benefit from hearing you speak and/or reading your book. I know, I know…I haven’t read it yet BUT I have no doubts! I would love to do a writeup about it here on my blog as well, if that’s okay! I’ll shoot you an email!

      Yours in Health,
      Sarah E. Rippel

      February 22, 2009 at 7:33 am

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