At this moment, as the result of a last minute cancellation by one of my fitness clients, I’m being paid almost $100 to eat breakfast.

To charge or not to charge, is always a moral conundrum. In this particular case, the client didn’t show because he had to manage a business opportunity; but the client who cancelled just prior to him reported an illness as his excuse. Do I charge them both?

images-1.jpegI have every client sign a liability waiver that includes a separate section in bold type agreeing to give me 24 hours notice of cancellation. I accept notice the night before an early morning appointment as sufficient, even though it’s technically less than 24 hours; and whenever I fail to give 24 hour notice, by way of apology, I give the disappointed client a free session. However, I don’t inform a late canceling client that I’m charging them for their missed appointment. I simply deduct the session from their pre-paid package.

Therein lies the reason for offering volume discounts for the purchase of session packages. The decision to charge, as well as payment, is in my hands. I maintain control of my business and my time.

What constitutes a true emergency, justifying a lapse of 24 notice of cancellation?

It’s a judgement call on a case by case basis. Some clients have frequent emergencies. Others are regularly late to sessions. In those cases, I smile and accept their excuses, “Of course…”‘; but I end the session at the appointed time, even if I have free time following the session. Keeping those boundaries clear is its own kind of training.

What do you think?



Regarding my job as Fitness Trainer, I like to disrupt the stereotypic image of a jock by saying, “It’s not really about the push ups”; meaning that the physical education is the least significant aspect of the workout.


I’ve been training Jennifer for as long as I’ve know my partner, 15 years now; and I bet that in some ways I know Jennifer better than I know my mate. Sure, my client has physical fitness goals, some functional and some cosmetic, and a history of orthopedic injury extensive enough to fill a medical journal; but “exercise instruction” doesn’t begin to describe our weekly hour together. I am the chief witness to her life. As the weeks and the years roll by, I see Jennifer rejoice in romantic vacations and dreadful fights, workplace honors as well as frustrating dissatisfaction, financial worries, the death of her parents.

What is the primary benefit provided by a fitness coach?

 When a client arrives for a session, I know the important touch stones of that person’s existence. Of course I ask how the diet has been maintained that week, and about the status of the prior week’s reported aches and bodily concerns. Then we get down to business, “How is that law suit progressing?” “Are you still angry at your daughter?” I hear things that no one else knows about that person.

It’s an honor to hold someone’s trust and confidence. It’s also a responsibility. When I observe one of my clients behaving poorly towards other people in their life, or stuck in an obsolete and less than optimal behavioral pattern, I feel obligated to say something.

What do you recommend?