I barely slept last night. When I got up and checked my phone, I prayed that Elizabeth, my client, had sent me a text canceling. No such luck. I texted, "Still on for this morning?" She was. Wow, it was actually happening.
As I drove to Zilker Park where Elizabeth and I agreed to meet up, I started psyching myself up to meet my first ever client. It felt like any other social encounter with weight behind it - a job interview or a first date, even. "Butterflies in the stomach," is so cliche... but that's what the feeling was.
Of course, I had nothing to worry about in reality. Elizabeth very nice and easy to talk to. She had just gotten off work and I asked her about her job a bit to break the ice. We found a spot on the grass in the park and I spoke a bit about my philosophy on working out and how consistency matters above all else.
We jogged a bit to warm up, did the work out, and cooled down. Throughout the session, I asked Elizabeth what types of exercises she liked and disliked. As I led the session, I oscillated uncomfortably between authoritative and supplicating. I wanted Elizabeth to like me and enjoy our time together so I asked for her opinions on how to proceed at points, but I started to understand that her whole motivation behind finding a personal trainer was getting someone to push her.
Elizabeth had worked out in various capacities for years. She told me that she exercised somewhat regularly alone, but did so sluggishly. She needed someone to push her. Interestingly enough, that's exactly what I thought people disliked about personal trainers. I saw the "bootcamp" approach as crass, but I think it's what someone like Elizabeth needs.
If I'm to become an effective trainer, I need to be able to assess and adapt to various personality types. I was set on being almost a counselor - a friendly big brother type who would say, "you can do this, here's how." That may be called for in the future, but it wasn't today.
Despite my feelings of inadequacy, I can only really view the session as a success. We both got a decent workout in, we got along well, and left on good terms. I sent Elizabeth a followup email and told her I'd be glad to meet again.