I Can’t

I’ve written a few posts about negative experiences with personal trainers, my own or observed, and I’ve also written about positive experiences as well. One of the things I haven’t talked about was the CLIENT. Which is you and me!


You Can Do This – a post I wrote about wanting to encourage someone during their first workout. I had an overwhelming urge to approach him and say “Keep doing it. Don’t quit. You can do this.”

Don’t Get Discouraged – Sadly, not all personal trainers are good ones. Don’t ever let someone diminish your efforts.

What NOT to Do as a Personal Trainer – This was a post sharing a negative experience with a personal trainer.

My Ass-Kicking and Reshaping Your Body with Weight Lifting – Some POSITIVE experiences with a personal trainer!

My fitness has evolved over the years. I go through cycles of intense cardio and then switch to weight lifting (which is where I am now). I see a lot of things in the gym that make me shake my head or wonder what that person is doing. Granted, no one’s form is absolutely perfect 100% of the time but some of the things I see people do just make me cringe. When I spend a lot of time in the cardio room on the treadmill or elliptical, I don’t see much of the scratch-your-head-in-confusion stuff like I do in the weight room. There was this guy who stacked weight plates on a bench taller than himself (seriously) and then proceeded to jump on top of it. I finally had to move because I just couldn’t watch the potential train-wreck. I was scared for him.

Despite the occasional weirdness I see in the gym, most of the time I see decent trainers doing their best to give clients a base to start from. Since I’m spending 95% of my time in the weight room near the personal training area, I get to see lots of things. I’ve gotten some ideas (poached of course) from other people’s sessions. I’ve also started to notice that there are three types of people getting personal training. Obviously this is based on my own assumptions/opinions and observations.

The first type of person is the one that is genuinely excited, determined to do a good job and wants to be there. They have a goal that they want to achieve and they are the ones that are going to try their best to do what the trainer teaches them. I thinks that is awesome!

The second type of person is the one that seems bashful. They are awkward and seem uncomfortable with the whole situation. I’m guessing they feel embarrassed. I don’t know if it’s embarrassment about wanting to lose weight, embarrassment about people SEEING them workout, or embarrassment because they are struggling with what the trainer is teaching them. This is not a judgment, just an observation. I can totally relate to this. I am mostly the first type of person (above) but when I was new to the whole thing I was definitely shy and unsure of myself. I felt uncomfortable having a trainer watch me. I was uncomfortable with other people in the gym watching me struggle (even though I know they DON’T CARE and aren’t paying attention!). I ended up wasting my time with the trainer by half-assing it in order to be a shrinking flower.

The third type of person isn’t one I see often. This type seems like a petulant, miserable teenager that is being forced to be there. I saw someone like this at the gym the other night and then a week later saw another person like this, and I was completely baffled as to why they were spending the money on a trainer when they looked so miserable and clearly didn’t want to be there.


The first one was a man, probably in his early 20’s. He definitely had the vibe and look of someone who wanted to be home playing video games instead of working out. His shoulders were hunched, he looked absolutely miserable, and as such the trainer seemed disinterested as well. The second person was an older woman and the entire time she was working with the trainer, she kept saying “I can’t do that” and “I can’t.”

Seeing a personal trainer is definitely awkward, I understand this. It’s most likely a new situation, we feel uncomfortable, we are unsure of what we are doing, maybe we’re worried about it being too hard or ending up with an injury. It’s important to trust the trainer and follow their instructions. Most of us can’t afford to work out with a trainer every single time we go to the gym, so we have to learn the moves and remember how to do them correctly on our own.


I think it’s important to change our attitudes regarding fitness. That woman that kept saying “I can’t do this” stuck with me for awhile. I wanted to ask her, “Why do you think you can’t do this? Is it because you don’t understand the moves? Or are you scared to try something new?” How many years had she been telling herself “I can’t”?

Before I actually started losing weight, I told myself all the time I CAN’T. “I can’t lose weight.” “I’ll always be fat.” You said I CAN’T often enough and you start to believe it. Thank goodness I finally TRIED to lose weight for real and realized I COULD.

My suggestion for the “I Can’t” people is to fake it til you make it. Tell the trainer honestly why you’re uncomfortable with a particular move. Do you feel like it needs to be modified? The trainer should happily do that. We don’t all start out with the ability to do a move perfectly. Sometimes it takes modifications to get us up to that point. (For example, I suck at push-ups. They are hard, they hurt my wrist, I can’t do very many. So I modify them. It’s better than not trying to improve!) Figure out the WHY and change that.

What do you think? How often do you find yourself saying “I Can’t”? Can you change that? How can you change your attitude towards the gym?

10 Responses

  1. For me it’s about taking a chance and taking a risk. I say “I can’t” when I think there is an exercise or movement that I cannot do. That my body isn’t “there yet” or I’m afraid of re-injuring myself. So, I have to really push my comfort zone and take a risk. Turns out that 4 out of 5 times, I CAN do it. 🙂
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..Yummy Sesame Dressing

    1. Great point! There is a fine line between saying “I can’t” and not even trying and pushing it TOO far too soon. Thanks for reminding me that sometimes the body says “I can’t” and we need to listen to that!

  2. I worry about saying “I can’t” when it comes to fitness, but also when it comes to other aspects of life. Dennis and I are making a conscious effort to remove (as much as we can) the words “I can’t” and “I should” from our vocabularies. If we can’t, we defeat ourselves, and if we should…just do it, don’t talk it.
    Flakey I know…but we’re on a quest to better ourselves inside and out. Have a fantastic day Lisa.
    Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..Best Billboard EVER!

  3. Great post Lisa. I try not to say or think “I can’t”, but sometimes slip up especially when it comes to anything physical.

    I would be a total number 2, that is if I had the courage to step foot in a gym. Even though I hear time and time again, how others will not care or be watching me, I still fear they will. I know I need to get over this and someday will start to work through it. One of my goals for this summer is to take walks outdoors. I have a park within a 1/4 mile of my house, but am usually too intimidated to go there. this is one of my major hang ups.
    Losing The Rolls recently posted..If it’s in the house

  4. I know what you mean about the “weirdness” when it comes to weights. From my experience it always comes in one of two forms. The first are the old men who are doing some bizarre exercise that no one would ever have thought up. These guys are fine in my mind because they genuinely believe in what they’re doing even if it is ridiculous. The second type I can’t stand. These are the guys who do odd things so that others will look at them. They want people to think they’re ” bad ass” or “hardcore” by slamming the weights or screaming. Anyway it always seems like it’s the men who do this.
    Brian @ New Me and You recently posted..5 guidelines to follow when you’re overweight and dating

    1. I see those guys a lot in my gym. I often wonder, if it’s so heavy you have to scream and grunt and then drop the weights–maybe it’s a little too heavy??

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge