By Ken “Skip” Hill
I have worked with a lot of different people from all walks of life from so many different countries that I sometimes have to look up the country on a map because I have no idea where it actually is. I was always pretty good with my states and capitals growing up, but had I known I would be working with people from all over the world when I got older, I might have paid more attention in geography class.
That being said, you might assume that the biggest obstacle in doing what I do would be a language barrier. However, that really hasn’t ever been the case. Probably the biggest obstacle in working with clients, is working with the client that thinks they know it all. This has nothing to do with gender, race, culture or geographic location – it is purely an ego thing.
The vast majority of people I run into, deal with or work with are GREAT people. With some of my clients I have developed such a long-standing friendship that when they are in town they stay at my home. I count myself lucky in this regard because I remember the days when I felt like I had to work with anyone that came my way with a PayPal account. These days, if I don’t get a good vibe from you, forget it. I have returned client fees to many people who give off certain red flags that identify them as being difficult to work with. These people usually end up falling into one of three basic categories and, in predictable fashion, I am now going to live up to my reputation by outing them in the next 750-or-so words.
The Young Know-It-All
I work with a lot of young kids who are just awesome. A lot of them have their head on straight and are motivated, mature people with a lot of initiative. These aren’t the ones that I am talking about. I am talking about the turds that have been training for 2-3 years and like to make it clear that they “interviewed” five other nutritionists before finally going with you. Wow, lucky me! Let this be the first red flag.
I like to emphasize a high level of communication with my clients and pride myself on being able to provide them with more information and explanation than most other people in my position. I encourage a lot of questions and I don’t feel that asking a question is questioning my knowledge. However, when I get questions that are redundant and sometimes start with “I read on FB that Trainer X does this so why don’t you?” or “I read that I should be eating this after I train,” I start to get a little uneasy.
Another issue that a lot of younger kids have is that they can’t handle gaining two pounds of body fat even if they put on five pounds of muscle in the process. Oh, they all want to get “HYOOGE” but apparently they think this is going to come with a 21-year-old waist of roughly 28 inches. What usually happens is we start out on a mass plan and everything is okay until the scale suddenly jumps two pounds two weeks later. They start to freak out and they suddenly want to go on a cutting diet. I had one kid yell at me (well, he typed in all CAPS so he “internet yelled at me”) that he was getting fat. Of course, the stats of this type of person usually fall around the 5’9” and 175 pound mark.
The Veteran Competitor
Again, the majority of my veteran competitors are great and I have worked with some of them for a very long time. Occasionally, I will get that client that pretty much lays out the plan for what he wants to do and expects to be calling the shots because he has been competing for twenty years. These guys usually have a great amount of knowledge and experience. As a result, they are a danger to themselves because they second guess EVERYTHING. These guys are masters of complicating the most simple of plans so they figure working with someone will allow them to avoid making decisions and they can just sit back and execute. Yeah, right. Usually, about 4 weeks in, a conversation inevitably takes place in which I ask them why they contacted me and paid me so much money. At that point we are either on the same page and we move forward or we part ways. I have been doing this too long and I know that if I can’t call the shots, it ain’t gonna work.
The Figure Girl/Physique Guy
Now, this one I have to be careful with because it is the most irritating of the three groups. Still, I love my Figure girls and my Physique guys with the exception of a few that I have had to kick to the curb.
Please, please don’t be a Figure girl or Physique guy and tell me how to gain muscle as if I have no clue. Please don’t tell me that your methods of “getting ripped” or for “beasting it” in the gym are superior to mine. First, Figure and Physique have been around for about a third of the time I have been training and competing and most of these perpetrators have only been training for roughly five or so years. There is nothing more laughable than someone who has been training for three years telling someone like myself that “they know their body”. No offense to any pros, but even if you have an IFBB Pro tag and have been training for three to five years, I need you to shut up before you even think of opening your mouth and arguing with me. I respect the accomplishment of getting the IFBB tag but that doesn’t mean I have to respect your knowledge of the sport.
People also need to know that as glamorous as Figure and Physique seem to be, a lot of these people can’t pay their bills despite the fact that they are doing cover shoots every other month and bragging about their latest photo shoot or supplement sponsorship. The LARGE majority of people that do photo shoots and covers for magazines are not paid no matter what they tell you or what they tell their “fans” on Facebook. Also, let me translate something for you: supplement sponsor = getting free supplements every month not a paycheck – hence the unpaid bills.
The reason the people I work with are, by-and-large, not like the people I mention above is because they know I won’t work with that type of person. If you plan to use a nutritionist or coach you must be willing to listen to them and trust that they have your best interests at heart and that they have the knowledge and experience to help you reach your goals. Feel free to ask questions to gain knowledge but if you think you already have the answers, why work with someone at all? Just Sayin’.
Ken “Skip” Hill has spent 30 years in the trenches of bodybuilding. He owns TEAM SKIP Nutritional Consulting, where he specializes in conditioning for bodybuilders and high-level athletes. You can reach Skip through his website, TEAMSKIP.net and follow him on Twitter (@IntenseMuscle).