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"My Dog Ate My Exercise Journal" and other excuses for not exercising

As a personal trainer I hear all manner of excuses for why people don't want to exercise. (Warning, you are about to read a rant.)

Its raining outside.

Its too cold.

Its too windy.

My dog is sick.

I just broke up with my ex (plus I am depressed and refuse to exercise apparently).

And then of course there is occasions when people cancel last minute their personal training session, in which case I really need people to read the Fine Print in the Rescheduling and Missed Sessions part of my website.

Especially the part where I need at least 24 hour notice before a cancellation.

Cancelling at midnight before a lesson the next day because "I have to go to a Steve Miller concert" is not sufficient warning.

Or here is my favourite thus far "I seem to have misplaced one of my children." I am paraphrasing what they said, but that is basically what their excuse was. It was the parental equivalent of "I lost my homework." or "My dog ate it." I am pretty sure it was a lie, and if it was not a lie, then that parent is obviously disorganized. Disorganization only gives a person a bad reputation for missing / breaking appointments.

Other personal trainers will understand what I am talking about. Dentists, doctors, lawyers and anyone who uses an appointment based schedule will understand what I am talking about. You make an appointment and you stick with it.

If you cancel an appointment with a dentist and you don't give them 24 hours notice for the cancellation, the dentist charges the person for the wasted time.

I do the exact same thing. If people don't show up, me waiting for them counts as the session.

Some personal trainers also require a deposit or prepayment for each session. I have not reached that point yet, but I really am wondering if I should require a deposit of some kind. (eg. Some trainers require a 30% deposit before they will even mark someone down in their schedule, which makes sense.)

[Update - In November 2014 I added a 30% deposit for scheduling lessons, so that is now my standard practice.]

Why? Sometimes people schedule a session, forget about the session, and there I am (proverbial cap in hand) waiting outside their condo on the day of the appointment and wondering why they are not answering their phone.

It is one thing if people are running late. I don't mind starting a personal training session 5, 10 or even 15 minutes late. I can understand why people are sometimes late for appointments.

And as long as I don't have another appointment after the first, I don't mind going over time by 5 to 15 minutes just because we started late.

But if I do have appointment afterwards, well sorry, I have to go otherwise it will be me who is running late.

And I don't like being late for anything. I like being either on time or early.

Call it one of my Personal Trainer Pet Peeves, it is personal training clients who always have an endless supply of excuses for why they cannot make an appointment.

If they were sick, okay, use that excuse. If someone says they are sick or injured I always give them the benefit of the doubt.

But when they come up with excuses that sound suspiciously like "My dog ate my exercise journal" and other lame excuses, wow. Just wow. Total lack of maturity.

And when they do it without 24 hours notice and expect to be compensated by receiving a replacement session, that is when I need to point to the Rescheduling and Missed Sessions fine print on my website.

Now I would like to point out that 99% of people don't do these things. 99% of people are on time (or sometimes slightly late) for sessions. It is the 1% of people who are chronically late every time, who are always making up excuses, who are forgetting sessions entirely. Those are the people that the Rescheduling and Missed Sessions fine print page is written for in the first place.

Chances are highly likely you are not part of that 1% of people. (It isn't even 1%, it is more like 0.25% of people who are chronic rescheduling.) The vast majority of people are very good about keeping appointments.

But for the 0.25% of people who are always very late, always cancelling last minute, who are expecting an endless stream of replacement sessions because they feel they are entitled - well I am sorry you are that disorganized, but I don't want to be your personal trainer. Go find someone else. I am not wasting my time worrying about the 0.25% of people who apparently are too scatterbrained to keep an appointment.

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