miserable at the gym

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?