“I’d really love to work with you again,” she said.
Without so much as a breath, I coughed out, “AGAIN?” “You didn’t work with me YET,” I flatly stated.
I was following up with a lady in my network recently; and that’s how the interaction unfolded. I think she was as surprised at my comment as I was shocked and offended at hers. There are people who hired me but never even began approaching what I would consider working WITH me. We met. We had some appointments. You didn’t work with me.
I’d wake up at 2:45am to scour notes, prepare myself for appointments, give myself the most thorough review of pertinent research, and bring the full payload of focus and enthusiasm for their sessions only to find 15% of them mentally checked out, late, cancelling, overstressed, distracted, and looking for gimmicks. I’m not a trainer. I’m not a prep coach. I don’t write up plans. I DISCOURAGE people from partaking in fitness programs of 12-24 weeks or less in duration. All I do is all I’ve ever done: consult people on revisions/ways-forward which will place them in the best position for success for whatever they aim to do for life, efficiently combat all their bullshit that they tell themselves to prevent progress, and walk through life improved. I’m very clear about this. I don’t misstate it. I don’t miscommunicate it. I don’t misrepresent it. Anyone who ever “signed up” to “train” with me or “get a plan” from me was grossly mistaken about who I am and what my process is.
You can mostly be accurate if you call me a mentor, a teacher, a health and fitness expert, a professional businessperson, a performance coach. You straight up haven’t clue one about what I’ve been doing for 20 years (or the 10 prior to that) if you avoid these terms. It’s not that the term “personal trainer” is completely irresponsibly inaccurate. It’s just not sufficient or appropriate for 98% of what my business is about and what I do. My clients who are medical doctors ask my advice on physiology and biology. My clients who are physical therapists ask my advice on treatment strategies. My clients in MENSA ask for my second set of eyes on their laboratory results. My clients who are commercial real estate investors ask my advice on land purchase deals. My clients who are writers talk literature with me. My clients who are high level finance experts chat acquisitions with me. If you came here for Guido in a tank top, you missed the point completely. I’d sooner discuss Descartes and Newton than even think about barking orders for push-ups. I'd sooner teach you the etymology of a word and soar through linguistics than spend a moment pushing a workout on an already-broken person who can't think bigger yet.
Small minds do small things. Small minds live small lives. I didn't skip dinners with my wife so I could make our "workout" appointments. I didn't pass on nights out or trips to visit my family for "training" sessions. I made every dramatic sacrifice for the purpose of helping people change their lives. I didn't do all that I did because I'm a "trainer." I did it because you came to me in need. You needed to change. If you didn't understand that, that's fine. If you still don't understand it, that's fine. Just please don't say you worked with me. You never worked my process.
Nearly every article I’ve ever written, every post I’ve ever made, every conversation I’ve ever had about health and fitness is VERY clear that the journey is lifelong and holistic. More directly and overtly, I tell people that I don’t actually believe in working with someone for less than three years or only covering some exercise and diet basics. In the second year, we identify seasonal and repeated behaviors which are ruining the person’s relationships, career prospects, health, and goals. We can’t break those patterns and routines in even the second year. It’s a stretch to do it in the third. But by the third, we will have a clear idea how to do it with everyone. I can’t honestly say I’ve worked with someone MY PROCESS if we didn’t regularly meet for three or more years in a row during which that person confronted himself or herself.
It’s simple really. Anyone who works the same job, lets people walk all over her the same way, behaves the same way, and believes the same things never worked with me. People who work with me change jobs, move, speak differently, think differently, live differently. They stand taller. They fear less. They have less pain. They choose. They manage time. They say they will accomplish something, and, BY GOD, THEY DO IT. My time is not a bolt-on artifice footnoted onto an unchanged life.
I’m not being hyperbolic. You may think you know what you do around the holidays. You have written a narrative about your summers and New Years resolutions. But you have no real idea until you have a coach or consultant reviewing your stats, notes, prep, mindset, excuses, and behaviors through the same holiday at least twice. You’re not going to accomplish that for ONE special occasion in less than thirteen months. You’re not going to accomplish that for all seasons in less than twenty-five.
Those are just facts.
If you merely want to have a cool short-term success story, literally just take a decent multi-vitamin and stop eating for two weeks. Drink spring water. Move. Do some light workouts. Take liberal caffeine if needed. Meditate. Schedule a few days off work and sleep in. Boom: 20-30lbs lighter. But don’t waste my or your time pretending to “work with me.” Sure. I lost 70lbs. I gained 100lbs of muscle. I know training. I know the science of exercise and nutrition and applied biology better than most people on the planet. That’s not WHO I AM. Or all that I am. That’s not the point. That’s not how you’re going to change.
It’s not a fit for most people. Most people want to believe all the same things about themselves. That’s not going to work for my process. You’re not a good person or a bad person or weak willed or strong willed. No. We talk about WHY you’re doing all the counterproductive behaviors and refusing to make productive choices. This hurts. It’s very painful. So most people can’t handle it. And that’s fine. Don’t work with me. Also, don’t tell people you worked with me when you rejected this approach.
I have a great deal of love and respect for all people, enough love and respect that I will not suffer lies when someone hires me. Dishonesty is the primary roadblock for progress. As long as someone keeps telling herself lies to feel good about her inaction and counterproductive behaviors, she’ll keep spinning her wheels doing the same things. That’s not my process. If you work with me, you work MY process, and you confront the bullshit.
I’m not talking about shaming. In fact, quite the contrary, I want to REMOVE value statements and judgements from the equation. Change has nothing to do with “good job” or a pat on the back. Change isn’t about lists. It’s about confrontation. Very few people are tough enough and ready to confront themselves with the expectation that their former selves are likely going to be destroyed to become all that they want to become. You can’t walk into my space, listen (I mean, REALLY LISTEN), agree on a way forward, and then go back to the same old job letting people spit on you and kick you around. You do that, and you never worked with me. NEVER.
“Eat this, not that” is bullshit. “Lift this, not that” is bullshit. None of this addresses WHY you haven’t done it yet. None of this addresses HOW you do it. None of this addresses WHY you would do it.
I’m not about WHAT. I don’t care about WHAT. I only concern myself with WHY and HOW. If you want WHY and HOW, you work with me. If you want WHAT, go to bodybuilding.com or copy the latest Men’s Health routine or follow the “six week abs” on some influencers’ website. That’s fine. You didn’t work with me.
And then, after more WHAT has completely failed you, after you’ve wasted more time by avoiding who you are and HOW to revise that, I’ll still be here. When you’re ready for HOW and WHY, work with me. Until then, even if we’ve met, even if you hired me, you didn’t work with me.