In our home over the past few months, schedules seem to be dictated by football. Even though our favorite season, college basketball time, is already underway, the Super Bowl and of course its commercials were certainly on everyone’s mind. I am actually taking a break from all the professional football team discussions, and am thinking instead about college football.

Paul “Bear” Bryant is one of the most admired college football coaches in history. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama’s Head Coach, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, Bryant held the record for most wins as Head Coach in collegiate football history, with 323 wins to his credit.

This sort of achievement doesn’t come easily, and certainly doesn’t get handed to any of us on a silver platter. One of Bryant’s most impactful quotes has touched more lives than merely those of the players he had the privilege of coaching, as it has applications in so many arenas of life, including personal training:

“Everybody has the will to win, but few have the will to prepare to win.”Plan Ahead

Whether your client’s goal is to achieve a new level of fitness, shed some unwanted pounds, or improve his flexibility, success comes in the preparation…YOUR preparation. So many trainers enter an hour session with little to no purposeful agenda. Success does not just “happen”; and to remain true to our profession, we must always have a plan.

For example, if weight loss is a top priority for a client, explain to him that eating the same foods as he has always eaten, in the same quantities, prepared the same way, will not propel him toward a weight-loss goal. Planning ahead, doing some research, and taking the initiative to prepare for every session with every client becomes an important first step toward success, both the client’s and yours.

This same paradigm applies to your client’s state of mind well. I often find it helpful to plant some ideas in a client’s head at the conclusion of our session, in preparation for the next time we train. For example, reminding a client that even before driving to the gym, he should already be preparing for the workout can be a powerful motivating force. Making the deliberate choice to adopt a positive frame of mind will allow him to conquer the challenges that await him in advance of picking up a single weight. This simple cerebral reminder will be the most helpful in propelling him toward his desired change.

It is vital that the personal trainer really listen to what the client says. Plan strength-training exercises that are both achievable and safe, build in a step-by-step way to progress as his strength increases, and always have a clear vision of where you both are heading.

It has been said, and accurately at that, how nobody trains to come in 2nd Place. True, we can’t always take 1st Place, and there will be some clients throughout your career that just might not mesh with you, no matter how dedicated and prepared you are. But if we come to work armed with the preparation required to have a successful outcome for each and every unique client, you both will always come out as winners!


Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at She welcomes your feedback and your comments!