Will you be a bridesmaid in my wedding?
Personal trainers realize that some clients get a little more, well, personal than others, says Geralyn Coopersmith, the national director of the Equinox Fitness Training
Institute. "They may spend more one-on-one time with you than with their friends or even their spouse," Coopersmith says. "They also know that you genuinely care about their health—that's part of your job." When one of Coopersmith's clients became pregnant, Coopersmith was the first person she told (before her husband!), and another invited her on an island vacation. ("Her friend had bailed, but I still felt uncomfortable.") During her 20 years of helping people get in shape, Coopersmith has even been asked to be in a client's wedding. "I tried to talk her out of it, but she said, 'You're such an important part of my life!'" (Coopersmith, who felt honored, went—and had a blast.)
Can I touch you?
...And then there are always those clients who want more than friendship. Mike Donavanik
, a Los Angeles–based personal trainer, says that early in his career a potential client was grilling him on the phone, when he suddenly threw out this zinger: "Boxers or briefs?" Donavanik was so stunned that he brought the conversation to a close and never called that person back. Another time, Donavanik had just finished leading a body-sculpting class at Crunch when a student came up to him and asked if she could touch his abs—"for motivation," she said. Donavanik demurred. He says that most trainers have a policy against dating clients, and his strategy to deflect romantic interest is the same one used by women in bars around the world: He keeps mentioning that he's in a relationship.
Could I have gained five pounds since this morning?
"Not unless you were in a pie-eating contest," is Coopersmith's response to these panicked clients. "You'd need to consume about 18,700 to 19,500 calories for breakfast to gain five pounds of body fat," she says. Coopersmith calms clients by telling them that the number on the scale can fluctuate by one to five pounds throughout the day, "depending on how much water you're retaining and how much you're losing through sweat, urination, dehydration." It's highly unlikely you'd actually put on any more than half a pound of fat in 24 hours, she says. Now, if you start putting on half a pound every day, then you should worry.
Next: "How can I get sexier knees?"