Tips for becoming an independent exerciser

Before we get to today’s post, I’d like to take a minute and share some exciting news with you all.

As of September 1st, I’m stepping away from my personal training job at the gym. Doing so will allow me to spend more time focusing on my Online Fitness Coaching clients and my monthly 40+ Women’s Training group. Time is truly my most precious commodity and I just haven’t felt like I’ve had as much of it as I’d like to have to give to these strong, focused and committed women.

While I’ll miss my in-person clients, I’m looking forward to having increased control over my schedule and connecting with more women who are truly ready to make change and commit to the exercise, nutrition and mindset habits required to reach their health and fitness goals. 

When I start working with a new personal training client, I’m already thinking about how the relationship will end.

Not because I don’t enjoy the process of helping women learn how to move and feed their bodies, but because my goal is to teach them to do it for themselves. Personal training is expensive and should be viewed as a temporary investment, not a life-long relationship 🙂

Just as I expect my children to some day leave ‘the nest’, I expect each client to eventually take charge of their own health and fitness and ‘fledge’; to become an independent exerciser, in their own right.

becoming an independent exerciser

Okay. I’m not quite ready for this one to leave the nest yet…

Tips for becoming an independent exerciser
  • Create a schedule. You might start by scheduling your workouts for the same time as your regular once or twice-weekly personal training sessions. Those days and times are already part of your routine and heading to the gym then will be second nature. If you’ve been doing an extra workout or two as part of your personal training homework, you’re already comfortable with exercising on your own; keep it up. My favourite way to schedule my workouts? An old-school desk calendar.
  • Follow a written program. If your trainer has provided you with written programs during the period of your training relationship, dust them off and re-cycle them. Just because you’ve followed a program in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t continue to benefit you now. Besides, you’ll already be familiar with the exercises and your trainer’s notes will include form cues and the number of reps and sets to be performed. Don’t have an individualized program? Grab the latest copy of your favourite fitness and exercise magazine (print or on-line). The most popular titles all include a workout program of the month. Take it with you to the gym and follow it to the letter.
  • Document your workouts. If you lift it, log it. Keep track of your progress, just the way your personal trainer did. For each exercise, write down the number of reps and sets you performed, as well as the weight lifted. Attempt to progress your workouts every week or two. Add an extra set. Perform a few more reps. Increase your weights. Then, when you stop making progress (or find that you’re tired of the program), grab a new program and begin all over again.
  • Make friends in the gym. Introduce yourself to the woman who always seems to be doing core work at the same time you are. Not only will becoming friendly with your fellow gym-goers help with accountability (you know they’ll ask you where you’ve been if you a miss a workout or two…), they can also be a great source of knowledge and information. Ask them about a new exercise you see them performing. Maybe it’s one you’d benefit from as well. Get them to show you how to use a machine you’re unfamiliar with. Most people are happy to share their knowledge, especially if you ask nicely 😉
  • Set some time-bound goals. Create some goals with a due date. Things you can work towards over the course of a few weeks to a few months. Write them down and include the date on which you’ll re-visit them. Then, re-visit them to celebrate your successes or to give yourself a compassionate, but no-nonsense talking to about how you’ll need to change your approach to reaching the goal for it to manifest.
  • Find a half-way solution. No longer need someone to correct your squat, count your reps and tell you when your Tabata interval is over, but not quite ready to go it alone? Ask your trainer if they’re willing to see you every 4-6 for a program change. That one-hour session may be exactly what you need to keep you moving forward towards full-on independent exercise. Another option? Find an online training community that includes monthly workouts, nutrition support and advice about how to customize the workouts to make them your own.
  • Re-commit to your ‘why’ daily. Remind yourself of why you value exercise. List the benefits that it brings to your life. Think of how you feel when you miss a workout or two. Use your best ‘trainer voice’ to encourage, motivate and support yourself. Focus on developing a positive mindset around exercise; do it because you love your body, not because you dislike it. Above all, mindset is key to becoming an independent exerciser. Think you can do it? You’re right! Think you can’t? You’re probably right too…

Grab a copy of my free 3-book, ‘5 Steps to Exercise Happiness’ if you’re still struggling to find your ‘why’.










  1. I know your exercise class students will miss you, but you’re so talented that I think your online presence and resources will also be useful to them! So glad for you!
    Ivonne recently posted…Hitting the Heavy Weights AgainMy Profile

    • Thanks Ivonne! But I’m not giving up teaching my group fitness classes, just 1-on-1 in-person, personal training. I love my Monday and Wednesday 9:15 peeps and plan on sticking with that for a long time to come! xo

  2. It’s funny, I used to be a hard-core exerciser. Then I fell away slowly but surely while I dealt with some mental issues related to food and exercise. Now I’m in a MUCH better headspace, but it feels like I’m starting from ground zero! 🙂 I think the advice above is great, and I’d just add that if even *getting* to the gym feels like a major life change, there’s always walking. I think it gets a bad rap as far as not being “intense enough,” but it’s a pretty good gateway exercise. Plus, at least for me, working from home, sometimes it’s the only time I get outside, LOL!

    • I hear you Marste. In fact, one of the key components of keeping weight over during midlife is daily, leisurely walks. They are fantastic for reducing stress, a big factor in menopot.

  3. Congratulations!

    Yes, I am now an independent exerciser. Never thought I’d get there, but with your help I am now doing it. One thing I don’t do is document reps, I think I’d better start doing that. I think I don’t do it because I time myself. I’ll definitely start documenting my reps.

    My best advice is to stay consistent. If you miss a day of exercising, don’t’ be hard on yourself; here’s always tomorrow! 🙂

    • Evelyn, that’s fantastic advice. In the long run, it’s much easier to keep going than starting all over again!
      I’m so happy that you’ve become successful at motivating yourself! xo

  4. I love your comment that “personal training is expensive and should be viewed as a temporary investment.” I think so many people view fitness and wellness as “expensive” and out of their league. It is so refreshing to see someone like you who makes it affordable for all–and is also willing to work themselves out of a job! So excited for your next steps–and you also gave me the courage to send an e-mail today giving up one of my commitments to pursue my next steps. Thanks fitknitchick!
    Meg Root recently posted…Two Questions to Get You from Wallowing to WellnessMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for the kind words Meg. It’s funny, but a few people have asked me about this particular personal training philosophy. Superficially, it looks like I’m cutting off my own hand, so to speak. Like you, I believe that fitness needs to be affordable and accessible for everybody; not just those people who can afford a long term trainer 😉


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