Dream Killer

by tinareale on February 11, 2013

Morning, lovelies! Did you happen to catch my post yesterday with some link love and announcements you really don’t want to miss? If you did because you were out living life (yay!), then be sure to give it a quick look today. Good stuff going on.

Alright, time to chat. Something happened this weekend that really irked me pretty badly. If you follow me on Twitter, then you have already heard about it.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/tinareale/status/300243115976040448"]

Totally happened. And I wanted to throw the dumbbell I was lifting at his head.

This trainer was working with a boot camp group training type of set-up and I could tell some of the guys in the group were very familiar with him. I tried giving the trainer the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t actually serious and was more goofing off with his “training buds,” but oh no. He meant it as he was “joking around” with the entire group, including individuals that looked newer to the training and not so comfortable with all the harping.

It was like a bad car wreck. I couldn’t stop watching with my jaw dropped and my blood boiling.

Sure, that may work for some group dynamics – say a group of fairly close friends who have trained together for a decent amount of time. I do not think it’s the right technique as a trainer at work with a variety of individuals they are training, however. You can find so many more meaningful and useful ways to inspire and provide motivation. NOT humiliation and degradation.

Anyway, I left the gym rolling my eyes. Later that day I came across something that brought that little morning gym scenario into sharper focus.


Follow along with my crazy thought process here for a second, okay?

Perfection. Trying to do it all and do it all well. Or…perfectly. Then, when that perfection doesn’t happen, talking down to myself, getting in a funk, and allowing all sorts of negativity to overtake my thoughts and emotions. How many time have *I* used humiliation in the name of motivation for my own self? Talking down to myself with the goal of hoping to “do better” in the future because I didn’t do “good enough” this time?

I scoffed at the whole “motivation by humiliation” comment, but then realized I have practiced it myself numerous times. After all, who is a more influential trainer to myself than…me? I wanted to scream at that trainer to offer greater encouragement, gentler guiding, and kinder instruction to his diverse clients, yet later that day realized at times I don’t even offer the same to myself.

I have a feeling you felt almost or just as disgusted as I did when reading about a trainer flat out telling his group of clients he will humiliate them to motivate them. Then, how did you feel when you turned it around to how you train yourself? Do you support, guide, and encourage your dreams or suffocate them with humiliation and belittling accusations? Is perfect all that will suffice, leading to personal mocking and disapproval when it inevitably doesn’t happen? More importantly, for myself and all who can relate – how can we stop this?

Have you ever used humiliation as motivation for yourself? In the comments I would love to hear some positive mantras/sayings and other tools we can use to encourage ourselves and be the best possible “self-trainer” we can be. Here are two I personally use most often:

“Progress, not perfection”.

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear and weakness, but of power, love, and self-discipline”. 2 Tim 1:7

Now share yours!


1 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 11, 2013 at 7:01 am

I hate trainers that do that – being humiliated does not = motivation!!!

2 Anna Pollard February 11, 2013 at 7:08 am

Mine is find your fit. My fit will be different than somebody else’s and vice versa. I use it when I fall into the comparison trap with others. My fit right now focuses on low pact cardio and strength training plus stretching. I tell myself to find my fit when I get down because I cannot run or do kickboxing with my foot and remind myself to celebrate it and to celebrate and encourage other’s ways to be fit.

3 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:48 am

Love this! Find your fit is a great one because we are all so different – different things our bodies can handle safely at any given time, different goals, different needs, different things we enjoy. Thanks for the great input and reminder. :)

4 Alicia at Poise in Parma February 11, 2013 at 7:25 am

I wonder just how many clients that trainer has return to them… I know I wouldn’t.

Similarly, one of my phrases is “excellence, not perfection”, so similar to one of your suggestions.

5 lindsay February 11, 2013 at 7:39 am

my biggest pet peeve too! and it’s the last thing we need in our society! Humiliation does not work that way, it only creates my body complexes. UGH, i would have been livid!!

6 Miz February 11, 2013 at 7:46 am

someone really said that?!


7 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:48 am

Yea. I couldn’t believe it either. Which is why at first I thought he was joking. So maddening and saddening that he wasn’t.

8 Linz @ Itz Linz February 11, 2013 at 8:04 am

Ew I would have punched the trainer in the face. (Kidding.) I would have probably left the class. I try and remind myself that even if I’m just doing a little bit or if itz not my best workout then itz better than nothing!!!

9 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers February 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

Oh man, that wouldn’t work well for me! I actually can’t see that working well for hardly anyone. I saw something crazy at the gym Friday. Actually, it was right outside the gym. I saw this guy driving into the parking lot, and he threw a large plastic water bottle outside his car window. I was furious that people actually litter on purpose! What?!?! I think my dropped jaw had me looking like a cartoon character. I made sure he could see me walk over and pick it up. Jerk.

10 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

I can’t believe people still do that too. I mean, there’s usually a trash can somewhere in the vicinity or save it til you can throw it away in your house. I would have looked a lot like you on that one.

11 Dana February 11, 2013 at 8:45 am

I would not be successful with humiliation from a trainer, that would make me feel awful!! My favorite quote I have found recently and I use it on my blog is “I am not trying to look perfect, I just want to feel better, look great, know I’m healthy and be able to rock any outfit I choose. I also love one I saw on pinterest, you are whoever you want to be you just have to decide to be it.

12 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

I have loved that quote for your motivation. And your new blog. :)

13 Jana @ Happy Wife Healthy Life February 11, 2013 at 9:29 am

Great post Tina! I know that I personally would not be motivated by humiliation, but would more likely want to crawl in a corner and hide! Or worse, never come back to the gym. I can’t imagine many people are motivated in this way. I know that some parents even humiliate their own children in hopes it will motivate them to do better. Thanks for bringing an awareness to this, I think respect is a lot more useful as a motivational tool!

14 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries February 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

I totally agree with you here! I think that trainer was totally out of line. I like your progress not perfection mantra. Just thinking about my goals and knowing that I did my best helps motivate me too.

15 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige February 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

Ew, ew, ew!!!
I cannot stand when personal trainers give off that vibe. Not only does he NOT need to be training people, but he gives off a certain stereotype to male trainers!

16 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions February 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

Wow, thank you so much for this post, Tina. I definitely had the same reaction as you to the humiliation tactic, but I never considered flipping that on myself. The second half of this post really hit me, because I definitely have a tendency to treat myself like that. When I trained for my half marathon through last summer, I’d be SO mean to myself when I’d have to walk because it was just way, way too hot, or when I’d run an exceptionally slow split. There’s no way I’d stick around with a coach if (s)he talked me the way I was talking to myself. And I do the same thing with my body all. the. time. I really can’t see myself willingly hanging around someone who was constantly telling me that this is wrong, that is wrong, the next thing is wrong, etc. etc. etc., but yet I do it to myself. You know, we hear all the time that we should treat others the way we want to be treated–which is completely true–but I also think we should treat OURSELVES the way we want others to treat us: with respect, compassion, and love.

17 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

Love this comment. Isn’t it crazy when you think about it in a new light? Man, that hit me hard and unexpectedly when I came across that perfectionism quote. Your final comment reminds me of something else. The Bible verse that talks about the great commandments on one being to “love others as you love YOURSELF”. We’re meant to love ourselves fully to be able to love others too. Enough rambling. Thanks for the beautiful comment, Bethany. You’re so awesome. :)

18 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona February 11, 2013 at 10:38 am

Did you say anything to the trainer after the class? Have you talked to anyone at the gym about your concerns?

19 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:55 am

I hadn’t because I wasn’t personally a part of the class and therefore don’t know if it’s something that I can go put in a complaint about. Maybe I should bring it up, though. Although I can imagine that the response would be “well they don’t have to pay for that group if they don’t want to be part of it”.

20 Allison @ With Faith & Grace February 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

That’s terrible and I definitely don’t think I do that for myself either. If anything that would just make me want to give up… and sometimes it does when I look at how big I am and how I have a hard time doing things. It makes me feel like I’ll never get to where the other women in the gym are. So I wouldn’t say it’s motivation either way, it’s rather self-defeating. What a terrible trainer. He should be fired!

21 Michelle February 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

While I don’t agree on the tactic – and I don’t necessarily think it was the right thing for THIS group – I do think it does depend on the customer/client relationship. Some people are motivated in strange ways and while I can’t say I would like if a trainer did that to ME, if I were a trainer and someone requested that type of training, I don’t know that I could say a flat out, “No!”

I certainly hope that it didn’t deter any newcomers from coming back or caused anyone to push themselves TOO hard! I do think some trainers I’ve encountered over the years do need a reality check sometimes (not saying you, of course!). It’s unfortunate that one bad experience can scare people away from being their healthiest!

22 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:56 am

Agreed, which is why I put it can work in some situations. Just not really at work in a large group setting where it’s bound not to work for everyone. With the guys he’s buddy buddy with, I bet it does work well.

23 Amanda @ Sistas of Strength February 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

When I used to go to regular gyms I heard and saw stuff all the time that jus blew my mind. It’s trainers like those that give the rest of us a bad reputation. Boo!!!

There’s one thing about joking around with people to motivate them, but if, like you said, people were uncomfortable with it that is SO SO SO uncool.

Love how you turned this around too and where this post ended up. I read a few years ago that if you stop asking people if you look fat or telling yourself your fat your self confidence will be so much better. Guess what? It’s true. :)

24 Lauren February 11, 2013 at 11:09 am

That trainer sounds like a fool! How insensitive and he should seriously have known better. I often tell my class (spin classes) that they have it in them. I always say you are stronger than you think…mind over matter! I also borrow Jillian’s famous saying, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable!”

25 Melissa @ Treats With a Twist February 11, 2013 at 11:55 am

Trainers should be motivating in a positive way. You should be able to tell that even if your trainer is yelling or pushing you, they are doing it because they truly believe in you. If you’re new to working out and ready to make a life change, nothing will make you turn and run in the opposite direction faster than being humiliated by someone in better shape than you. It’s just too sensitive a topic to burst someone’s self esteem over.
Thanks for sharing! I know I beat up on myself too much and have just started trying to tell myself instead “I deserve to meet my goal, I’m so worth this”

26 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 11, 2013 at 11:56 am

Ugh…that just makes me angry and upset. I know that I’m not always the most encouraging to myself and I know others are the same, which is why a trainer needs to be there to ENCOURAGE and MOTIVATE and tailor their technique to each individual client.

27 Sylvia @ Frolic Through Life February 11, 2013 at 11:58 am

That kind of motivation would never work for me. If he was my trainer, it would have been my last session with him. I know that I do better with a trainer who is patient and will help me get the right form and get the workouts down. Thank goodness there’s good trainers out there like you! :)

28 Tamara February 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

This is exactly why I no longer watch the Biggest Loser. Humiliation and shame do NOT promote change (psychologists have proven it and we all know it to be true).

Thanks for this great reminder to not only be kind to others, but to also be kinder to ourselves…

29 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:58 am

Yea. I hadn’t watched in a long time but caught a few episodes this recent season. After a few I was like “ehhhh….I don’t really care for it” and I think that had something to do with it.

30 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast February 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Oh, wow… how unprofessional! I’ve heard someone else say that she had a similar trainer and was overweight and how awful that experience was for her. Humiliation tears down… I don’t see how that can help someone on their way to making changes in a good way.

31 Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free February 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

LOVE this post. Humiliation is not a way to heal through fitness – it only promotes more self-shaming and negative feelings. I was a perfectionist for years and years until I crashed and burned. Now, I make it a goal to fail – if I fail it means I’m growing and pushing myself.

32 Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family February 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I HATE HATE HATE when ANYONE uses humiliation as motivation … professionally, as parents, trainers, etc. So counterproductive! We should build each other up, not tear each other down.

33 Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's February 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I am glad you think this. My trainer and I are both FB friend with a trainer at the gym we used to wok out at. She has posted complaints about january joiners, clients that she doesn’t like, etc… The most recent was a photo of someone’s food log that she didn’t approve of. And while the food wasn’t great, it also wasn’t terrible, and if my trainer was asking for a food log I would hope they would give me constructive criticism on it not humiliate me on facebook. (she is friends with the majority of her clients). I just don’t understand why people think they deserve this type of treatment. I truly believe that you have to WANT in order to get it, and reaching out is a part of the step, it took me almost a year to stop eating processed garbage and drinking diet soda, but my trainer and I worked on a lot.

34 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 6:59 am

Wow. I can’t believe that is even allowed with like privacy issues of a client.

35 Amanda @RunToTheFinish February 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm

hmmm this is interesting… I have done the you have no excuses compared to so and so…and certainly when I started running it was to lose weight so I’m pretty sure I said some less than very nice things to myself in the mindset I had back then. I think now with working out I don’t do it, but oh yes I do when it comes to achieving in other areas. great point!

36 Cori February 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm

While I was reading this I became angry at the trainer for using humiliation because I feel like trainers like that give all trainers a bad name!

I started to think why the heck do people do that!

But then I saw your comment about talking down to yourself and while I would never talk down to a client, I DEFINITELY have occasionally talked down to myself (which is something that over the years I’ve worked to correct.)

We can sometimes be our own harshest critics but we have to realize that perfection isn’t attainable and that we only fail if we don’t learn from the experience.

I must say I sort of do wish you had thrown the dumbbell at his head…kidding…sort of…

37 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

You make a great, and very true, point. I’d never use humiliation to motivate someone else to do better, but when I think about it, I probably do that to myself every single day. I treat myself like crap (talking down to myself) in hopes that I won’t want to feel that way any longer, but in reality I’m just bringing myself down. Thanks for this post, Tina!

38 jobo February 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm

WOW – first what a disgusting comment that trainer made!! AWFUL! BUT you are so right, we have all done this to ourselves before, I know I have. KNOW IT. Humiliated myself TO myself. Killed my dream. Said I wasn’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, whatever it may be. It goes down to being our own best friends and ally, doesn’t it? SUCH a good post Tina!! As always :)

39 rachel @runningrachel February 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Yes!! Ugh!! My brain actually shuts down and refuses to accept and process new information when I am being yelled out and devalued. I just can’t mentally absorb and handle that type of “motivation”.

That is a shame that that trainer feels that is how he needs to motivate. I blame BL and the drama the show tries to capture for that mentality. Even though I am sure those trainers really do love and nurture those people. :sigh: {end rant}

40 Barry Wright, III February 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm

“Perfection is the enemy of good.” I struggle with perfectionism frequently and have to remember to prioritize and reward myself for what I do accomplish.

41 Jess February 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Ok, first I read Lindsay Wright’s post on slowing down and then your post on perfection as a dream killer. Are you both in my brain right now?? Or just knowing what I need to hear and HEED right now?? Or both? Seriously. This smacked me hard, in a REALLY good way. I love the idea of being kinder, gentler in how I talk to myself, motivate myself. Instead of pushing to be perfect all the time, juggling life like a pro and never giving myself a chill-out break, it’s time to be kinder, gentler, less GO, less DO, more BE. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this. xoxo

42 tinareale February 12, 2013 at 7:01 am

Love you! You know where to find me if you ever need to talk. I have so been (and sometimes still find myself in) they types of things you’re talking about.

43 [email protected] February 11, 2013 at 9:59 pm

I can’t believe that trainer actually said that & meant it. That is so sad to me.

We will never be perfect in this life & esp not on our own, so it’s silly to even want that in everything we do!

44 Bek @ Crave February 12, 2013 at 1:55 am

Love this concept of a self-trainer! I feel sorry for his clients- and it’s a wonder he has any!

45 Ari @ Ari's Menu February 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

It’s so interesting, isn’t it? How quickly we will want to jump in to stand up for people we may have never even met, but how we allow that kind of negativity from ourselves. What a great connection, and beautiful post Tina! It’s a nice reminder that sometimes we need to remember to treat OURSELVES how we would treat others.

46 Molly @ Just Your Average Athlete February 12, 2013 at 10:59 am

My favorite motivational mantra is: “You are stronger than you think”

47 Nicole @5280healthinfo February 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

What makes that trainer think humiliation will motivate? I don’t think I could last 5 minutes in a room with that guy, especially if I was paying him!
I like to tell my self that there is no “phoning it in” And that if I am not dying, puking, or fainting I can keep going.

48 Christine @ Love, Life, Surf February 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm

What a horrible way to attempt to motivate someone. I can’t imagine that the trainer has that many return clients? That kind of motivation would never work for me. AND you make such a great point that we often do use humiliation as motivation for ourselves. I know that I have in the past. I’m trying not to rely so much on negative feedback because I know that just makes me push myself too hard and, ahem, get hurt. There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and beating yourself up. Really great post Tina.

49 [email protected] February 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm

“Progress not perfection” is one of my favorites, and others alike that say that any progress is worth it or that small everyday habits are what lead to success. Another one of the greatest quotes I’ve heard is “Transformation is not a future event, it is a present activity.”

50 tinareale February 14, 2013 at 5:41 am

That transformation quote is FABULOUS!

51 Amy @ Foodie 4 Healing February 13, 2013 at 10:36 pm

This is exactly where God has me at right now… progress not perfection. And why in the world would I think perfection is attainable in the first place?! I’m not Jesus! haha! Anyway, yes, I’ve used humiliation on myself many times, sadly. My therapist has me taking rock and writing a word on it or something that will trigger my memory of all the little successes I’ve done. I love it! If I’m having a bad day, I can go over to my rock collection and see things like, “positivity”. Also, one reason I love running is because it’s the quickest way to find out what your self-talk is. I love that in the end when it gets really tough, I find myself saying things like, “You can do it, Amy! You got this! Keep going!”

52 tinareale February 14, 2013 at 5:40 am

I love the rock idea!! That’s so great. And I feel like you with the running. I think it’s why I came to love it so much. It was the only “sport” that really gave me my love of fitness but also super positive and motivational thoughts since before strength training was always about how I looked (training for fitness comp). I think that balance in running spilled over into everything now too.

53 Bek @ Crave February 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

I love all your font pictures- what program/website do you use?!

54 tinareale February 15, 2013 at 7:32 am

I use either PicMonkay or more often Picassa. I did download extra fonts to use for Picassa though and use stock images I buy from 123rf.com for the backgrounds or graphics I use.

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