As a Pilates teacher I have been fortunate enough to have wonderful private clients. Our relationships are each very individual, and each one gives me an enormous sense of pleasure, purpose and value. Personal trainers have become a core relationship in many of our lives. Whether it’s a personal trainer you see at the gym, a running coach or Pilates teacher, finding someone to help you reach your health and fitness goals is an important task. Like any other relationship, there are ways to make sure that it is successful and lasting.

Be clear with what your goals are. Not only in the big picture, such as “I want toned arms” or “I want to look better than everyone else at my reunion,” but also inĀ  the day-to-day. If you’re having a rough day and you need to really up the physical factor, say so. Sometimes nothing helps you forget how mad you are that your kid wrote on his bedroom wall with a Sharpie marker like holding a plank longer than you ever have. You are there to work your body, so its a safe place to exert some extra frustration when you’re feeling it. And some days, you just need to stretch, to be in touch with your body but not push it. Let them know, they can help you gently release the tension you’re holding on to. Your trainer isn’t a mind reader, but does know how to give you what you want if you communicate it to them.

Just as your time is extremely valuable, so is your trainer’s time. Constant last-minute cancellations, rearranging of schedules and showing up 15 minutes late are not acceptable. Of course we all have the occasional flat tire, blinding headache or sick kid that keeps us from making an appointment. But these need to be the exception, not the rule. You wouldn’t continue with a trainer that constantly stood you up, so treat them with the same courtesy.

Set boundaries… in everything, from how you are stretched out to the subject of conversations — you are in charge. If you’re uncomfortable having your hamstring stretched in the middle of the gym, it’s okay to say it. If you don’t want to gossip or share personal information, you don’t have to. Working with someone in close proximity for an hour a few times a week can create a very close bond, but if you’re not looking for a personal relationship, that’s also absolutely okay. You set the tone, and you don’t need to make it a social hour.

Work hard. You have chosen this person as your trainer because you want them to help you achieve great results. So trust them. Listen to them. And do the work they set before you. As a trainer, there is nothing more frustrating than a client who I can see isn’t working to their full potential. I wonder why they are spending the money on me and why I can’t seem to help them reach their goals. When I see my clients work hard, hand themselves over to my knowledge and experience and put their trust in me, together we always achieve amazing things.

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