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You are here: Home / Media Resources / Articles / It’s all about me: The 'influencer' style explained. DISC [article] 3

It’s all about me: The 'influencer' style explained. DISC [article] 3

The influencing style can be fun, challenging but will never be dull for a personal trainer. Here's a run down of what's ticking inside the I and how to deal with it as a fitness instructor or personal trainer.

When looking back at my personal training career, my clients who had high ‘I’ DISC styles stand out by a country mile. I’ll never forget the day I met Pippa, by far my most entertaining client!


About Pippa

I had been Personal Training for almost a year when Pippa was referred to me by her friend. I stood in the reception area waiting as I usually did when I had a new client. I waited, and waited. After fifteen minutes I had given up all hope, when a flurry of blonde hair, designer heels and a rather nice handbag flew through the door.


“I’m here!” the blonde bundle, who I presumed must be Pippa, announced as she threw her gear down, grabbed me in an enthusiastic hug and planted a noisy kiss on one of my cheeks. “Uh, hi” I stammered as I untangled myself from her embrace and tried to remove my clipboard from my ribcage where it had been lodged during the vigorous greeting.


“You must be..” I tried to regain some of the formality I was used to when greeting new clients.


“Pippa, yes hi. Lucy has told me so much about you. Where are we heading… over there? I’m sooo sorry I’m late, you will never believe what happened on my way here…” Linking my arm through hers Pippa began to lead me through to the consultation room as she regaled me with a story of her eventful and very social trip to the gym that morning.


Pippa was most definitely an 'I'. After a screening session that lasted an hour and a half, had me crying with laughter, and left me with no notes on the screening form, I knew the names of all her past boyfriends, family members, and her favourite colour.  I noticed after she had left that I had very little information that was actually relevant to writing a potential exercise program for her (had we mentioned exercise? I really wasn’t sure), however something told me that it wouldn’t really be an issue!


Pippa’s Strengths

Pippa was fun. She was entertaining, spontaneous and loved to be the centre of attention. Sometimes I think we both forgot that we were at the gym and that she was supposed to be exercising.  Instead we focused on the scandal and gossip that seemed to follow Pippa wherever she went. Pippa LOVED to talk; she did things quickly, and loved variety.  She was happy to do whatever I wanted in her gym sessions - as long as it wasn’t boring and she could tell me about her weekend while she was doing it! She was very social, she knew everyone at the gym, and knew all about what was going on in their lives. She went out of her way to always be nice to everybody, and was greatly concerned (and a little indignant) if she thought that somebody didn’t like her. Our sessions flew by, and Pippa wasn’t too concerned with achieving goals and sticking to time frames as long as we were having fun (which we usually were!).  She was definitely an ‘easy’ client to train.


Pippa’s Weaknesses

While I loved Pippa dearly, I had got into Personal Training with a goal of forming close relationships with my clients AND helping them to achieve their fitness goals. Pippa and I had the close relationship down pat – sometimes I thought it was a little too close as she revealed every detail of her personal life to me – including things that I definitely didn’t want to know!  However what I found frustrating was the fact that she had no set fitness goals, an extremely short attention span and very little follow through, meaning that we made limited progress on the gym floor! While she kept training with me because she liked me, her technique was awful - as instead of listening to my cues, she was waiting for her turn to talk again.  She had to have a Personal Trainer because ‘everyone else was doing it’, however I couldn’t help but feel that she used our sessions primarily for socialising and ‘being seen’ at the gym.  


Training Pippa

Pippa and I had a tremendous friendship and a lot of fun on the gym floor. However to get anything done I was forced to develop a few underhand tactics to keep her on task.  I had to remember that what made Pippa tick was having a good time, so the challenge was to try and get her working hard in the gym, while at the same time creating something of a party atmosphere!  I tried to structure our training sessions in a way that would keep us both relatively happy (see programme below). 


 Pippa's programme 

What the programme 'said'
What I really 'meant'
 Warm up:
10 minutes of cardio
Pippa's talk time, de-brief on the week so far
Weights: 2 x 10 reps weights exercise 1
2 x 10 reps weights exercise 2
No talking rule imposed during sets, open season during rest.
Machines with simple movement patterns to limit bad technique
and the amount of concentration required
Cardio: 5 mins of intervals
1 minute talk, 1 minute of actual working
Weights: 2 x 10 reps weights exercise 3
2 z 10 reps weights exercise 4
Same goals as above - work during sets, talk during rest.
Maximum 2 sets allows as 3 we deemed boring and repetitive
Cool down:
5-10 minutes cardio at low to
moderate intensity
Pippa's talk time, de-brief on session, who we'd seen in the
session and what we thought of their outfits
Stretch: 2-3 minutes
Conversation had to be 'spicy' here as stretching was 'boring'



Moral of the story  

I loved training Pippa - the drama, the gossip, the entertainment!  However when talking to other trainers I could sympathise with those who wanted to train their clients hard, and felt frustrated when their client just wanted to talk about themselves.  What I tried to do was set some ground rules early on (in a light and entertaining manner..?!) and realise that a high 'I' usually values social interaction above all else, including, shock horror, their fitness. A good idea is to schedule times throughout their session where you both know that it is their time to talk.  It’s usually all about compromise, when Personal Training an 'I', it really is all about them!