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

-The Beauty of Training Clients-


This is going to be another “post from the heart” from your’s truly.  Yes, all of my posts are from the heart, but this one may be borderline sappy.  Any fitness professional who genuinely LOVES what they do and LOVES working with clients will most likely take these words to heart.  Anyone who’s ever worked with a truly gifted and “in their element” personal trainer will most likely find these words make sense.

I’m sitting here with a tired body and mind…and even my eyes are tired.  It’s Thursday and i’ve been training hard, doing my thang training clients, making some important decisions regarding work & life, sneaking in an evening out with friends, and trying to find some much-needed “down time.”  As I discussed in my previous post, I got a massage Tuesday and it was amazing.  That hour of laying on the massage table while my massage therapist worked the hell out of my super-tight traps and glutes wouldn’t necessarily be considered “down time,” although I did lay there doing something that could be considered relaxing.  Folks, there’s not a lot of relaxing when it comes to deep tissue!  It hurts so good!

So…what’s on my mind.  Well, for the past two days or so, i’ve been in “soapbox mode” and as usual, not apologetic in the least about it.  You see, I have reached a point in my life where I realize that there are always going to be people out there who’s standards aren’t in-line with mine.  It’s just that way.  I tend to talk about the “majority” and how I have never felt I was “mainstream,” and this definitely applies to my career.  Call me harsh, but these days it seems the “mainstream” way to do things in the fitness world is to become an “Internet expert.”  This is the “easy way out.”  Since when did it become so popular to be LAZY in the fitness world?  Oh, wait…ever since someone discovered the magic of the Internet & info products.  Nothing wrong with this at all…the problem lies in the fact that a great deal of those out there hawking their products are complete idiots!  Why am I so harsh?  People seem to think they can claim they are a fitness professional, yet they don’t train clients!  Some of these types HAVE trained clients in the past, but have “discovered” they can make more money by pimping out everyone else’s Internet products as well as their own.  Some of these types have never worked with a single client.  I find this ridiculous and i’m not afraid to talk about it.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m all for fitness professionals succeeding and taking care of business, but don’t think you’re not selling-out when you decide “wow, I don’t have to train clients but I can tell people what to do, and i’ll make more money doing it!”  You ARE selling out, in my mind, and you have NO right to provide “fitness advice” to whoever is naive enough to buy into it. So, there ya have it.  If you fall into that category, there’s your sign.

You see, how in the hell can someone tell people what to do, when they:

A.  don’t use their “expertise” hands-on by training people, and

B.  most of the time don’t even work out themselves?

Makes ZERO sense to me!

Legit?  Hell no.

See how i’m not at all a fan of this trend?  Yes, I know people who have created some amazing fitness information products and do very well selling them online, but they also work with clients.  I will gladly support these hard-working trainers, and am by no means referring to them!  In my eyes, anyone who claims they are an “expert,” as i’ve said before, is a crock of hooey.

If you need to label yourself as an “expert,” you’re looking for a way to make up for a lack of something.  Much like the stereotypical “macho man” who drives a big Dodge Ram with dual exhaust glasspack whatevers, big-ass tires, and mudflaps that have bikini ladies on ’em.  I have a special term for these types, but i’m not gonna say it here. 🙂

Now, let’s get on to the GOOD stuff!  I’m done talking about the majority of “fitness personalities” you’ve most likely encountered online.  Seeing some of the garbage they produce or copycat from some other schmo’s stuff does nothing but reinforce the confidence I have in myself and my abilities.  I also am reminded that I have integrity and refuse to buy into any “quick fixes” or “easy ways out.”

If you actually work with people like I do, here’s some amazing stuff that happens:

  • You get to witness firsthand the positive changes YOU helped bring about in your clients. Yes, a trainer’s clients are the ones in control of what happens, for the most part, but the trainer is the guide.  Without the trainer, there would be no transformation…hence the reason people hire us…they can’t seem to get their on their own.

Case in point, one of my online training client rockstars, Tonya.  Yes, this is a testimonial from an ONLINE client.  I am very selective about my clients in general, but due to the fact that my time is very limited, I haven’t been promoting my online training services.  Obviously, online training means i’m not working with a client face-to-face, BUT it works for me because I have the know-how to help people in this manner.  Also, this isn’t an option for just anyone.  It requires a great deal of accountability and dedication on the part of the client.

June 19, 2009

I found Sarah around the time I injured my rotator cuff in a group kettlebell class. I was in the best shape of my life and I thought it was all going to go down the tubes with the injury. My doctor was telling me it could take up to 2 years to get back to 100% and I was clueless as to how I could workout with out further damaging myself. My doctor and PT were no help in this regard. They were NOT fitness enthusiasts and their best advice would have left me fat and flabby. All the plan and programs I had included something that was off limits for me. Also, I needed to keep the uninjured parts of my shoulder strong and incorporate exercises from my physical therapist.

Because Sarah was so knowledgeable about corrective exercises and is really truly a pro, she was able to design weekly workouts for me that kept me in shape and allowed the shoulder to heal. She even managed to work kettlebells into the mix without risking my shoulder.

Sarah introduced me to exercise bands which I had previously shunned as too “girly”. Let me tell you, there is nothing girly about working out with bands. They seriously improved the strength and stability of the muscles in my upper back and Sarah has figured out numerous challenging lower body exercises with the bands as well.

6 months later, and my shoulder is 90% healed and I’m still in great shape. Best money I spent on fitness in years.

Tonya Bednarick

TBS Web Solutions

  • You get to help people discover an ENJOYMENT for moving their bodies, and help them by figuring out just what it is that makes them “tick.” Case in point, one of my relatively-new client’s pool workout yesterday.  I met her at a local indoor pool and we discovered that the heater was broken.  Pool was FREEZING!  I did some kickboard with her but my legs were dead from the morning’s run.  Pretty funny because at one point, she looked at me and asked if I was okay…my teeth were chattering and I was shivering!  I told her i’d lost some bodyfat! 😉  Anyhow, the most obvious difference to me between this pool workout and her previous “regular” workouts? She had a smile on her face the entire time! Several times, she made comments about how much she loved the pool and could do “this kinda thing” for hours.  Immediately after training her, I was on my way to go train four 15-21 year olds in another pool!  Talk about a blast!  I partnered them up, had them do various swim strokes, kicking drills, upper body work with the Aqualogix, and towards the end of the hour I had them do a relay race!  Nothing like working with enthusiastic, upbeat clients in the pool on a hot day!  It’s fun, it’s a challenge to most, and an all around winner!

So…big lesson there for trainers:  figure out what makes your clients “tick!”  Throw new stuff at them.  Watch their faces and be aware of their feedback (not just verbal) while they are exercising.  If you figure out what activities they really dig, capitalize on them and make the results happen!

  • You get to help people “OWN” their bodies and lives. What exactly do I mean?  Well, for a great example, check out Lissa Rankin’s “Owning Pink” for a lesson in regaining some lost mojo!  Just a sidenote, in the near future you’ll be seeing a guest post from your’s truly on this amazing site!  Okay, so what am I getting at, exactly?  Well, this morning I met with another amazing client I have mentioned in previous posts, Kay.  She’s been on vacation and has gotten a bit off her mojo-track, so it was time to get her back in gear!  We spent 45 minutes talking about what WE need to do as a team to make things happen.  I told her that obstacles happen, and this is just another test.  You see, I view life as an ongoing series of tests.  If you can hack it and learn from these tests, you’re forever growing as a person.  It’s obviously easy to throw in the towel entirely and just let the old patterns take over your life.  Kay and I had and amazing heart-to-heart!  I made her aware of just how far she’s come since we started in January, and the fact that more and more, she’s “owning” herself.  So many of us are detached from ourselves.  I can say this because I lived for a very long time out of touch with my emotions.  If you live this way, it’s hard to have boundaries, and you may end up playing the “victim” more often than not.  I know I did, and I simply didn’t care at the time.  I didn’t “own” myself.  Now I do.  I own everything about myself…my health, my career, my goals, my sexuality, my decisions, my mistakes…the list goes on and on.  So, back to Kay…it was so awesome just getting to talk openly with her, as i’m able to with most of my clients.  There’s this knack I seem to have with getting on an individual level with clients, and as a trainer I feel this is invaluable.  Why?  Personal training is personal!  Exercise is very personal in general!  Exercise most definitely makes you more self-aware…therefore, it can be said that I am helping “enlighten” my clients (both literally as well as figuratively, if you’re catching my play on words)! 😉 Awesome, awesome stuff, people!  You can’t get this from anything BUT a personal connection!

Okay…i’m bringing this post to a close because it’s time for me to skeedaddle!  Got an easy pool workout to tackle, then it’s time for some R&R.  Early bedtime tonight!


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7 responses

  1. Nice post Sarah. The personal touch just makes such a huge, HUGE difference. Great job.

    June 26, 2009 at 11:36 am

    • Thank you, Jennifer! 🙂

      I wouldn’t have it any other way. Personal training is about connecting with people and the relationships are priceless! Back in the day when I got certified, one of the “rules” was “don’t become friends with your clients,” or whatever the heck it was. Basically saying not to mix business with personal life. You know what? That’s impossible for me. How in the heck can you work with people throughout the week, hear their life stories, know about their stressors, get to know their families, etc, and NOT become friends? I can’t do it. I guess there are trainer robots out there somewhere who are perhaps have their heads too far up their own as*es that they don’t really give a care about their clients? Yeah, there are…there really are, come to think of it. That makes me sad. Those types need to go bye-bye, and I feel sorry for their clients. I feel those types eventually weed themselves out…they end up quitting and probably end up becoming “internet experts.” 😀

      Yours in Health,
      Sarah

      June 26, 2009 at 11:39 am

  2. I’d like to become an internet expert. Then I could sit around at home all day in my PJs eating chocolate and icecream. Oh hang on, wouldn’t that be depressing?

    June 26, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    • LOL!!!
      Anna, you’re a hoot! and COMPLETELY right! How freakin’ depressing? You’d get fat and be obviously lazy and probably wouldn’t have any REAL friends…you’d be making love to your computer day and night!
      I think it’s very possible to blend the Internet presence with real-world work…case in point, myself. I tend to do way more than I should, and have always been an overachiever…works well, though! That warrior nimrod from the forums can kiss my kiester b/c remember how he’d always try and imply that I didn’t do anything but sit on my computer all day? Obviously full of crap. Just because there are a handful of us out there who have learned how to leverage our time…obviously it’s a threat to some. Now, the “i’m a fat loss expert so buy my $50 ebook that’s 5 pages long with crappy pictures of humdrum exercises” types? They’re not a threat to anyone…I think they will either go postal from sitting at the computer all day, suffer health complications b/c of a lack of exercise (even though they are “exercise experts”), and/or fall off the face of the Earth after a while, b/c it seems there is less and less “new and magical” stuff these types can produce.

      Have a great weekend!

      Sarah

      PS – I LOVE MY GARMIN FORERUNNER! 😀

      June 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  3. SWEEEEET!!! you get the 305? 405? the waterproof one? The Garmin software is shit, download sporttracks. Look forward to a review?

    June 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    • Hey Anna!
      It’s the 305. It’s water-resistant, I believe? Which one do you have? I downloaded Sporttracks yesterday and it IS way better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

      I will be doing a review, don’t worry!

      Also, i’m probably going to be creating my own “triathlon training” blog that will be linked to my main blog, but to keep my own workouts separate. I’m thinking it will simplify things a bit.

      Yours in Health,
      Sarah

      June 28, 2009 at 10:25 am

      • Cool, that is sooo awesome a client gave you one!! It’s not water proof though, i wouldn’t put it in the water. I have even taped up the speaker holes in the back so sweat doesn’t get in coz some people report that the beep noise dies. So I wouldn’t swim in it, but anything on land goes.

        June 28, 2009 at 3:08 pm

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