I Speak Body Language

Have you heard, “OMG, he’s such a creep.” or “You’re way too close, bro.” in reference to a personal trainer? Yea, I have…and if you are in the fitness profession or just love being in the gym, you have DEFINITELY heard it.


On the other side of that, if you are reading this and slightly offended, this may be you! No worries, this will help steer the ship on the right path so you can get more personal with your clients without pushing the line and catching a charge.


            One thing I’ve learned since day 1 when I began my career is people need their space.  You constantly hear how working with a trainer is/can be intimidating. The client usually feels self-conscious about himself or herself to begin with and now they have this stranger, overbearing and straight up hovering them. If they can smell your breath, that’s a problem.


           With that said, I don’t think one should sit incredibly far away to the point you need a speakerphone to coach a client.


            How do you cue a client in a way that is comforting to them while being close enough to spot them but not too far that you need to scream their reps and cues?


RULE #1: Spot only when requested!


          Common sense isn’t always common knowledge. When working with free weights, know your client. If it’s a warm-up set, its just that, a warm-up; not a 1RM. They don’t need a spot. If the request assistance, position your body most appropriate for the movement (I.E. – During a squat, about a foot behind, arms just under the clients armpit, hinging back with them. You’d be very surprised how wrong people make this look. Lol). Sit back and just focus on their movements. If it looks off, let your client know you are going to assist and the REASON as to why. They will know be conscious to their mistake and be more proprioceptively aware of the movement.


RULE #2: Stop Looking Uninterested!

        Look, I am not a cue coach Nazi. I will sit with my clients. I will stand with my clients. I will kneel with my clients. I will be ENGAGED with my clients. If a client, for instance, is doing a standing military press, stand with the client. On the contrary, if there is a short plyo box box and a client is barbell bridging, be THERE. The biggest take-away from here is be eye-level at all times. You standing while they are on the ground will make you look too superior to them and if theyre standing and working while you’re sitting and coaching, not only is that a slap in the face to your client, it makes you look extremely uninterested.


RULE #3: Cue to THEIR Reality.


I’ve learned that not everyone will respond to the same cues. Sometimes, using what they do in daily life will the client to think outside the box. FUNCTIONAL TRAINING AT ITS BEST. ;-). Anyhow, here are a couple of my personal favorite cues that have worked WONDERS with clients (and even a class I teach)


Hinging: This is one I actually got from another trainer/mentor, Dave Quevedo. I couldn’t hinge to save my life for a lonnggg time hence why my RDL’s and Deadlifts looked like shit along with ever other bro. All he said to me was: “Imagine you are a waiter with both hands occupied by drinks. You need to open the door behind you with your butt. Push back, keeping your back straight and don’t drop those drinks!” In about 5 minutes, I felt my hamstrings for the first time ever. Lol.


Glute Activation: I AM SICK OF SQUEEZE YOUR GLUTES! Not everyone knows their ass is formally known as the gluteus min/med/max nor do they care. They just want an ass that doesn’t look like it’s been wacked with a fraternity paddle board unto oblivion. One day, I was on a date and hey, beer gives me gas. The first thing I could think of is “Lou, do NOT fart. Squeeze those cheeks!” Boom! I was with a client and said to her, “imagine you are in a crowded room and you have to fart. DON’T FART. Squeeze those cheeks!” I swear, it works 100000% of the time with men and women. No one wants to be embarassed, right? Squeeze those cheeks!


*Adult Language here!* – KB Swings: This one came out of nowhere with a client of mine. She is AWESOME and we can joke around like this (so clearly, use this with a client that can handle being a bit crude and fun). It’s a hinge obviously but that “violent snap of the hip” is something not everyone can grasp. As I am telling her to snap her hip, pop her hip, etc, just to get her hips through and glutes squeezed, she laughs and says, “Lou, I feel like I’m humping the air…haha, Im beaver bumping.” 😀 lol, I couldn’t help but laugh. Needless to say, she swings damn good but if she breaks form, I tell her to “hinge then bump the beaver.” Works like a charm.


            So there you have it folks. If you want to be a better coach, you must find the perfect balance of professionalism, humor, and straight-up common sense. Know your client. Know what is acceptable and unacceptable…and please, pLeAsE, PLEASE, do not lose a client because you couldn’t respect their space. Last thing you need is to be known as the “creepy trainer”.



          Louie Guarino is a trainer out in the mean streets of Hoboken, NJ. Besides being incredibly handsome and charming, he has a passion to make the non-believers in to believers that they too, can achieve all goals in life, if they just make it happen.




Written by Louis