The 5 biggest error coaches do in training female customers

Effective training and training of women is more than an understanding of the anatomical and physiological differences between men and women. It is also about understanding psychological and emotional differences, including the terms women tend to believe and say about their bodies and how they relate to their value.

With a community of more than 600,000 women from more than 70 countries around the world, we were able to gather a very strong image from our community members about their experience in co-operation with a coach or trainer and how these experiences personally influenced them as a result those who were in their relationship with the professional.

In 2017, we investigated the Girls Gone Strong community and asked women about their negative experiences with their coach or instructor – here we found.

From the women we researched:

  • 97 percent eventually dropped their trainer.
  • 16% left the gym all together to avoid seeing his trainer again.
  • Only 3.5% shared the truth about why.

What does this mean for you as a health professional and fitness?

It means that you are often at the forefront of this discussion about women and their bodies and you can deeply influence how they feel about themselves, their journey to the gym and their abilities. It also means that you have the opportunity to be a huge force for good.

To be clear, you can not make someone feel a special way for themselves. We are responsible for how we feel, how we react and how we react to others. What you can do, however, is to create a hospitable, environmentally friendly, safe and positive for the body environment that encourages your customers to develop a more positive body image.

Here is a list of the top 5 mistakes women reported their instructors doing.

1. Making comments that leave women feeling shame or shame

Some examples of trainers' comments were:

  • By telling a woman who pulled her shirt to sweat the sweat, "Wow! There are remnants under all this."
  • Saying a woman struggling with an exercise she was very weak to do it.
  • Referring to a client who has fought in endurance sports as "skinny fat".

Reported impact:

  • 71 percent of customers said they feel worthy, discouraged and should not be in the gym.
  • 68 percent of customer customers reported that this disappointment left them feeling vulnerable and as the gym was not a safe place for them.

2. It is not related to the Client's situation

Some of the examples mentioned:

  • An instructor trying to force his client on the scale, despite his repeated refusal to do so, when he came to him seeking advice on nutrition.
  • A female coach tells a customer that he could never gain muscle or lose weight while eating vegetarian diet and that Palaus was his only choice.

Women who felt that their trainer could not relate to their condition were mentioned:

  • Not mobilized
  • Angry and upset
  • It is ashamed to be unable to meet the expectations of the trainer
  • Ignored and underestimated by the trainer

3. Over- or Underestimating Customers based on their appearance

Here it may look like this:

  • Being shocked when a customer is unable to do some exercises because they seem to be "in shape" (overestimation).
  • Talking to a customer "I did not think you could do this" (underestimation).
  • Crushing a client with intense HIIT workout because it seems to be "appropriate" (overestimation).
  • Assuming that because a woman is overweight, she should not exercise or be a beginner (underestimation).

Reported impact:

  • When they were underestimated, women felt infuriated, angry, disappointed, upset.
  • When overestimated, women felt worrying and insecure.
  • 86% of women judged from their appearance felt they did not have the opportunity to gain their potential.

4. Ignoring customer requests

Here are some examples:

  • A well-mysterious male coach firmly tells his client that "he would not look like him" if he lifted weights "when he repeatedly told him that his goal was hypertrophy / muscle gain.
  • Repeatedly discussing the diet or weighing your customer when he is not interested.
  • An instructor who refuses to modify the exercises for a client with previous knee injuries, and then when he finally retires, offering "less effective" client-side exercises.

Customers were more likely to report the feeling:

  • It is ignored
  • Not mobilized
  • Angry
  • Defeats

Customers often reported that when the instructor did not hear them, this:

  • He discouraged him from reaching their potential
  • Caused or aggravated injuries

5. Tap an All or Nothing approach

Some examples include:

  • An instructor who refuses to give alternative exercises – insisting that these exercises are "mandatory" – since the client told them that their initial exercises were uncomfortable.
  • He called a client 8 weeks after surgery to tell him that he had to take responsibility for himself and would never see results if he did not start his training (the trainer thought he was "mobilizing").

How this was done by customers:

  • The trainer often pushes weight loss as a goal (even if it is undesirable), and has always ended up with customers feeling unworthy and feeling bad for themselves.
  • Customers often felt that it was impossible to meet the goals set by the trainer and felt they were victorious.
  • These trainers were more likely to shame the customer.

When you read these scenarios, it's easy to roll your eyes and ask who in the world would say these things or behave with customers, but the reality is that these things happen all the time.

And even if you are not someone who will treat the client or the patient this way – they do a lot of health and fitness professionals. This means that there is a good chance that your client or patient is entering your area with some level of trauma or "baggage" related to their experience with another healthcare professional.

What can you do

If these are the things we do not have to do with our clients, what can we do? Many things! You have the opportunity to deeply influence your client's life in a positive way. Here is a specific, energetic list of things to do and things you should avoid when working with your clients and patients.

DO: Listen to your customer

  • Ask questions about their history.
  • Repeat back to what they say and follow with important questions that show you are listening.
  • Take notes during your meeting.
  • Make sure your client is comfortable doing some exercises and / or at some points.
  • There are advances, regressions and variants available if their schedule needs to be modified on the fly.


  • Stop or talk to your client.
  • Suppose you know what your customer will say.
  • Let yourself distract yourself from your phone, yourself or other fitness attendees during your session.
  • Push them or make them feel uncomfortable if they are asking to change an exercise or location.

DO: Evaluate their skill level

  • Ask them to complete a medical history questionnaire along with a questionnaire about their previous education and / or nutrition experience.
  • Check the questionnaire with them to give them the opportunity to talk more deeply about what's important to them.
  • Discover deeper, ask for more / different questions based on their answers.
  • Take them through an appropriate physical assessment to assess their abilities.


  • Tell them what is "wrong" with them when evaluating.
  • Suggest that it can / should be pain.
  • Put them through a vigorous workout as an assessment tool or to "prove how good a
    trainer "you are.
  • Spend a lot of time talking about what they can not do (on your part).

YES: Give them the space to determine their goal

  • Ask them what they would like to finish working with you.
  • Help them become specific with their goal if they are not able to do it themselves.
  • Ask more questions to see if their goal is really their goal.
  • Help them identify what is realistic.
  • Verify your goals and discuss how you can help (or not).
  • Ask more questions and train them gently.


  • Tell things that can cancel their specific goal.
  • Let's say you know what their goals are based on their appearance.
  • Squeeze your personal preferences to your client.

DO: Identify and respect their individual situation

  • Learn as much as you can about their personal situation.
  • Ask questions to find out how their lives look like working outside with you (family, work, sleep, anxiety, etc.).
  • Easily on some of these questions, as they may be sensitive.


  • Make recommendations that are not sensitive to their situation (cultural, moral / moral, economic).
  • Make them feel bad about their personal situation.
  • Compare your customer with another customer in a negative way.

DO: Continuous evaluation, control and evaluation

  • Ask regularly what's happening in their lives.
  • Pay attention to your body language, mood and energy level.
  • Have a backup plan if they look "off" and take advantage when they feel great.
  • Work with them to define a strategy when something blows the fan.
  • Learn what motivates them (eg compliments, competition, results).


  • Reduce how important life events affect their education.
  • You push harder when it seems less motivated.
  • Make fun or ridicule them to express their concerns.

DO: Verify what your customer says

  • Verify that your customer has to say with a rewording to indicate that you have heard.
  • Customize your client's feelings.
  • Recognize the autonomy of their bodies.


DO: Be aware of your behavior and communication with your customer

Sexual assault is much more common than anyone will suspect and one in four North Americans will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime [1], most of whom are color women (mostly black, indigenous and mixed race) [2]. An overwhelming 83 percent of women with disabilities will be attacked over the course of their lives [1].

In this spirit, be especially careful:

  • The language you use
  • The way you touch your client and the manual slogans you give (do not forget to always ask for permission before touching them)
  • Your descriptions and words
  • Your physical proximity to the customer
  • How do you make eye contact and where you are looking
  • The natural environment you create (music, images, culture, location, etc.)

Above all, it is important to recognize that while you can not make your customers feel a special way – we all have to be responsible for our own reactions and feelings – you can cultivate an environment that encourages customers to they feel welcome, safe, including good ones, their abilities and their bodies.

bibliographical references

  1. Sexual statistical attack on Canada, a numerical representation of the truth,
  2. Women of color and sexual assault, Connecticut alliance for the end of sexual violence,

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