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Dual Athlete of the Month- Part 2

wildmanwill84 August 20, 2014


The reality of the Client-Trainer Relationship

unnamed (21)The client-trainer relationship is often misunderstood or portrayed poorly. Usually what you see is a good looking well-built male trainer training a wealthy cougar or you see some young female trainer screaming like a drill instructor at a group of overweight people. Until now! Before Ed and Libertine were Fitastic Athletes of the Month; before they were National Level Physique and Bikini competitors; before they were great friends; they were client and trainer.

Instead of writing my interpretation of their story we are taking Part 2 in a different direction. I sent both Ed and Libertine questions for them to answer based on their client-trainer relationship.  Whether you are a client, a trainer, someone who enjoys working out or thinking about getting a trainer; we can all learn from Ed and Libertine’s experience and successes. Read along thinking about your experiences. Would getting a personal trainer or program be a success for you? As trainers, are there techniques you can learn from Ed? As clients, are you working as hard as Libertine did, are you following the program?

What were your initial first impressions of each other after doing your first workout?

Ed-Did you see potential in Libertine?

I usually screen most of my clients before I accept them as clients; I want to make sure they are dedicated and serious about their training and personal development.  That being said, I could tell Libby and I would get together just fine.  As you know, she is very amicable and upbeat—she established a solid foundation and I could see great potential.

Libby-Did you see or feel that Ed was the right fit for you?

After the initial consultation and session, I knew Ed was the right fit for me. He understood my goals to drop fat and gain lean muscle as well as my unnamed (23)need for a variety of training methods to keep my interests piqued.

In the beginning what were some of the biggest hurdles you both had to overcome?

Ed-What did you have to focus on the most with Libertine? Diet? Prep? Workouts?

Every program I create is progressive–based on the current status of the individual client.  I don’t think there were any hurdles per se, more like accomplishments and achievements, always striving for something greater.

Libby-What where some of your early struggles/hurdles that you had to overcome?

I’m not sure that I had any struggles/hurdles that I had to overcome. If I had to pick something, I would say it would have to be nutrition.


Ed-How did you break Libertine out of her intimidation in the free weight area?        

Unlike most women, Libby was not intimidated by the “big bad” free weights.  She blended in just fine with other fitness-conscious members and is known as regular “gym rat” at our club.

Libby-How did you feel and react to be taken into the free weight area that you once avoided?

I wouldn’t say that I was avoiding the free weight area out of fear per se. I was comfortable using them in the comfort of my own home. So it was mainly learning gym etiquette and taking in the environment around me. It’s a rush being surrounded (for the most part) others who are dedicated enough to take time out of their day to lift and transform themselves. We just jumped right in and I was all for it!

unnamed (25) Ed-What kind or type of program did you create for Libertine?

It was basic as first: most new clients need time to adjust to new programming.  Depending on how often I can personally train with them and individual goals, the program can vary: upper/lower, push/pull/lower, body-part split, etc.  At first it was generalized, then it grew in intensity quite rapidly;  2-a-days, HIIT sessions, conditioning and grueling workouts became the norm.

Libby-How did you respond to Ed’s program since you were no longer in your living room w/ DVDs?

I responded really well to Ed’s program. I love a challenge and he would bring it each and every session. I’m a huge fan of HIIT and MetCon sessions, so I make sure we have at least 1 session done together each week. It’s much easier to get through it when he’s with me, but when I’m on my own, I still put the work in and bring it. Haha! 

Ed-When did you start to see the potential in Libby that she would make such a great competitor?

Libby could handle any new stimulus that I threw at her—always adventurous and ready for the next challenge.  I never like to push competing in fitness contests on any client—I only take their motivation and desire and use it to help them reach their goals.  SUCCESSFUL competitors separate themselves from the rest of the general crowd.  They are extremely serious about not just competing in a show, but possibly WINNING.  They will make sacrifices and push their bodies to the limit. From our previous trainer/client relationship, seeing what she was capable of—it was clear to me that Libby had enormous potential. To compete and possibly to win.  

Libby-When you told Ed you wanted to compete how did that conversation go?unnamed (24)

Me: So I’ve been thinking about something for a little while now and wanted to run it by you.

Ed [with a smile on his face]: You want to compete?

Me [with a huge smile on me face]: Yes! But I’m not sure if I should do bikini or figure.

Ed: Start with bikini. You have a good structure for both, but we’ll tailor your training around bikini.

Client-Trainer Relationship

Ed-Did you have to train Libby on how a client works with a trainer? (You know how some clients don’t follow the program but then still blame you) Where there any issues like that in the beginning?

Libby is pretty honest and competent—we blew through the “beginner” phase and started to conduct serious workouts and create more structured eating plans for her.  I hate babysitting clients—that is not my function.  I’m thankful that my more experienced and hungry clients will show up to do the work at the gym (and at home) even if I am not there to supervise.

Libby-Did you take issue or have any troubles with Ed’s training style, did you adapt and follow the plan?

I didn’t have any troubles or issues with Ed’s training style. I adapted well and still enjoy each session even after 18 months of training together. I knew from Day 1 that the results I would get out of this would be my responsibility. Ed would act as my well-educated guide and extra motivation.


Ed-What kind of nutrition changes did you have to make for Libertine?

Simple things like cycling carbohydrates and cutting out “the bad stuff.”  I cannot force any client to make drastic dietary changes because 90% of them will end up failing.  Just like training programs, eating plans should be progressive as well. Libby’s nutrition program gradually became more and more tailored to that of an athlete or competitor to keep up with her intense workout program—even before she decided to compete in fitness contests.  

Libby-Did you struggle or take issue with Ed’s nutritional planning?

After plateauing a bit, I asked Ed to put together a meal plan for me tailored around the food I already ate. We sat down and Ed introduced me to carb cycling. I wrote down what I ate daily and he tweaked a few things and rearranged some meals. It definitely helped break my plateau and show more results. When I saw those results, I wanted more. That’s about the time I got the itch to compete.

The basics

How long have you been training together?AOTM August 2014- Ed and Libertine

Since February 2013 (18 months)

How often did you meet while training?

We started at 2x/week. Once it was time for me to prep for my first competition, we bumped it up to 3x/week. We’re currently back to 2x/week.

Do you both still do 1on1 training or has it evolved?

We still train one on one. 2x/week.

What made you guys become such great friends?


With the common interest of health and fitness as a foundation, I think it just developed from there. Our sense of humor is very similar. We’re fluent in sarcasm. It seemed like an easy connection. I can’t really explain it. 


I’m very sarcastic—to pretty much anyone I come across.  We have similar interests, values and friendships: the question is “how could we not have become such great friends?” Libby has been a fantastic client, great training partner and an even better friend to me.  Libby and I share a very strong bond—probably the strongest trainer/client/friend relationship that I have witnessed.  

unnamed (22)Competition

Ed-How did you feel, what emotions went through your body when Libertine won her class in her 1st show?

I was going insane—quite literally.  As the names for 5th through 3rd were being called I could not sit still.  Then when her name was NOT called for second I erupted in pure joy—a very proud moment in our trainer/client relationship.  I ran to the side of the stage so I could give her a big hug as soon as she was done.  It was a great day to be her trainer.

Libby-How did it make you feel when you saw Ed’s big smile after you won?

It was an incredible feeling seeing Ed, for lack of a better phrase, “losing his shit” in his seat during my first competition (Ironman). He was sitting in the 2nd row, center and could not sit still. All of our hard work was showcased on stage and was rewarded in an epic way. The second I stepped off stage, I was greeted with a huge hug. He was JUST as excited as I was.

Final Thoughts

Ed-What makes a “good” client? What are some characteristics that you look for in training clients?unnamed (7)

Driven.  Someone who is serious about their own health and wellness–who has a desire for personal development.  I don’t care if your goal is to compete, lose ten pounds or simply have enough energy to get through the day.  

Self-reliance.  I can’t physically be with any of my clients 24/7 there has to be accountability.  I don’t mind helping anyone but I cannot be your sole-motivating factor to succeed.  That has to come from within.

Willpower.  “Diet” is a bad word.  It’s just eating healthier meals customized to your individual goals.  And I’m sorry, but sometimes “cheating” is not part of your plan.  Hard work and willpower are: when clients start to see changes in body-composition it serves as a very powerful tool to strengthen their willpower and commitment.

A little personality never hurt either.  

unnamed (11)Libby-What makes a “good” personal trainer? What should people look for in their personal trainer?

Someone who:

  • Is knowledgeable in a variety of programs
  • Is flexible with schedule
  • Can adjust programs around injury
  • Is personable and intelligent
  • Is motivating
  • Practices what they preach

Do you feel good, excited, pumped after reading this answers. I did. Ed and Libertine are the picture of what a true and positive client-trainer relationship can be. A true personal trainer is not a stud sleeping with his rich married client. It’s not a young girl strutting around a club in tight booty shorts. A true client is not an overweight person secretly eating bonbons in their car after the session. Or a person who just wants a trainer to talk to them and listen to all their problems while they walk on the treadmill. A personal trainer is someone who takes on the responsibility of their client’s physical wellbeing and health. A client is someone who has taken charge of their lives and goals and said, “You know what? I need help here.” Then listens, pushes and succeeds. Don’t let the media portrayals fool you. Trainers and clients are real people with drive, ambition and willingness to make the world a healthier happier place.

W3 (Wild Will Wilson)

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