I Was Wrong
I crossed a line with her I had no business crossing. It was painful – an emotional disembowelment for each. I didn’t realize how severe my blunder was until she began crying, left the room and got in her car to drive away. Following her, not wanting her to leave, I dropped to my knees beside her sports car and begged her through the closed window to come back inside and talk things out. Voices escalated. I began crying, she still crying. Through the glass for nearly 10 minutes we would exchange strong opinions about what just went wrong. Outsiders in the area began to look on.
The relationship seemed to be over and it was over and it was my fault. I kept asking her to come back inside to discuss how we could fix this. In a moment of weakness she obliged me, exited the car, and followed me back inside where we would survive a raw discussion. No, this was not a girlfriend. This was a client, and a dear one at that. In one escalated moment, I saw my entire business flash before my eyes. But it was the friendship I wanted to salvage.
What Went Wrong; Ideals, Opinions, And Ethics
I teach exercise in a very specific way, from a narrow but sturdy value set, with an absolute belief that done properly and consistently, strength training is great medicine for nearly any ailment – even those that might push one away from the idea of strength training. She had an injury. I was trying to help. I recommended a doctor to her. Our fight began when I disagreed with the lack of diagnosis and lack of remedies prescribed by the very doctor I had recommended.
My client suggested the course of non-action recommended by the doctor might be best. I disagreed. I’m not a doctor and I never attempt to act as one with my clients. That’s not true. Every week of my life I utter this phrase;
“My non medical opinion is…”
And though I may feel I’m always right in my rightness, I am always wrong to contradict a doctor because being a doctor is a legitimate profession. Being a fitness trainer is a novelty career at best. I mean, trainers are all just gymopotamuses who don’t want to get real jobs, yes…?
I believe there are many doctors who are strangers to the gym. Those who might be gym savvy, might not be as savvy as they think. My experience has been that many physicians equate technique in exercises such as squats, lunges, leg extensions and leg presses, to the typical gym rat trying to push too hard, too heavy and do too much. Because of this mind-set, I have experienced a tendency for physicians to tell patients to avoid such movements with regard to knee injuries.
In somewhat of a renaissance, a new breed of physician and physical therapist tend to embrace the afore mentioned movements more, suggesting that done properly and not pushed they might, if not help the injury, serve to strengthen the area around the injury and offer it more support to the joint. That of course is relative to what the injury might be, and its severity. But even at the highest levels of medicine, there is no shortage of conflicting ideas, opinions, and agenda.
Ironically, the client in question provided me with a pivotal perspective on my business last year. We were on the topic of other trainers when she used the term “brand loyalty” in the context of me. Though I am unique in how I approach and teach strength training, as well in how I conduct relationships with my clients, I had never thought of myself as a brand before. That meant a great deal to me. I had come to appreciate her more for appreciating me in that context. Since that time I have walked a little taller.
In truth, I have always felt infallible in this. I teach strength training safely and I construct workouts sensibly. I have often been quick to tell clients that, one-on-one, I’m the best trainer I have ever known. Not the most knowledgeable. Not the best built trainer. But I’m the best I’ve seen at teaching form, and the best communicator of how and of why – and I stand with that.
One Man’s Passion; Doh!
If I see utility in something, I can’t imagine anyone else not seeing it. But life isn’t like that. Throughout my fitness career I have always believed I could teach people to see and appreciate the utility of my brand of exercise. That’s where I have been wrong. I will learn to accept it – that my passion is my passion. Even if my passion can be transported, it might not be received. This will take some humility and learning on my part, but it will be a priority in the future of my business psyche. Also, I will learn to accept that at the end of the day, I have an ethical responsibility to always say the doctor is right, even when I believe he is not.
To the client in question; I thank you for giving me a chance to earn back your trust. I will open my ears as well as my mind a little wider, and consider myself better for the lesson learned. Be well. rc
Oh, and there is this from the short-lived Chicago based band, Piglet. Enjoy…