Surely many trainers and I share the same frustrations regarding clients and their alcohol consumption. Sobriety is a big deal to me, so much so that in an initial client assessment, it’s one of my specific “deal-breaker” questions that I ask. If a would-be client refuses to change their diet and, in particular, will not stop drinking, I won’t train them.
For years I was generally lenient, but as time has passed, I’ve become more strict in my business. I’m not judging anyone for their decisions; but I’ve seen how alcohol disrupts the process of self-development, and I know how frustrating it becomes for both the client and trainer.
Most people come to me thinking they are ready to change their lives, but many actually aren’t ready. I ask them if they are prepared to do whatever it takes to lose weight and get in shape, and the answer is always “yes.” I ask them first if they will change their diet — some are hesitant but reluctantly will agree. Then, when I ask them if they will quit drinking until they reach their goals, the silence that follows is deafening.
Can I drink on weekends or on special occasions? My answer is no, and here’s why: alcohol is probably the main reason they’ve let their health go in the first place. Not only is booze empty calories, but it’s also a massive distraction. Even if their diet is excellent all week, drinking almost always derails the client’s progress…and quickly. Having a few drinks typically leads to binge eating; having a few more leads to a hangover the next day. And when I’m hungover, diet is the least of my concerns. Nor am I inclined to show up for a training session.
My attitude towards alcohol has evolved gradually as a trainer and businessman. In the past, I needed money and was desperate to build up my client list, so I would take on clients without setting terms and guidelines. I believed I was doing us both a favor: leniency for them, more business for myself.
But I wasn’t doing any favors. Clients were canceling and paying my cancellation fee at least once or twice weekly, but their progress stalled. Sometimes we would only get one training session in a week. You can see where this is going.
Months would go by, and they wouldn’t be closer to their goals than when we started. Many even admitted that they knew they would be further along if they wouldn’t go out as much. Then they’d go out and drink again.
Soon after, I told myself that any trainer with integrity would sever the business relationship and part ways. So I did. In my opinion, taking money from someone paying for a service that isn’t producing results is wrong. And ultimately, it was my fault for drawing a line and being tougher on them.
Alcohol is my number one deal-breaker. If the desire to get drunk is more significant than the will to get healthy, the booze will always win. I’ve had to make similar decisions; and thankfully, someone shot me straight, too, because I could not change my life without changing my ways.
So what’s my advice to anyone wanting to make drastic improvements in their life? Ask yourself what contributing factors have led you to the desperate place you’re in. Then, ask yourself if you are completely ready to leave those things behind. If the answer is no, save yourself time and money and wait to invest in personal training until you’re ready. All the training in the world will do you no good if you can’t commit.
There’s no big changes on the horizon until you can make the small changes necessary to prepare yourself.