Client Consulting: Addressing the “I Have No Energy to Workout” Objection


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You are trying to build a successful Personal Training Business. You are working to convince your future clients of why they should choose you to become their Personal Trainer. You learned in the IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course that your success of Phase I, of the IFPA Personal Training System: Client Consult & Assessment will make or break your Personal Training Career.

You must learn to address all the potential “reasons” why clients fear they can not commit to Personal Training Sessions with you. To assist you in achieving success as a personal trainer, the following provides you some advice of how to best answer the “I have no energy to workout” complaint.

First, recall what you learned in your IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course about the energy systems. The mitochondria are the “Power House” of your cells and without physical activity, they will have no need to produce Adenosine-Tri-Phosphate (ATP).

Without the production of ATP, you have no energy. Despite the way most people “feel” about exercise decreasing or taking away their energy, the FACT is, exercise creates energy. After every session, you and your personal training clients will feel the boost of energy.

Yes, any exercise creates this energy including Group Fitness type exercise. If you are an IFPA Certified Sports Conditioning Specialist, you may discover the exception to this Rule, when you are training a highly competitive athlete who trains with such frequency, intensity and volume as to run themselves completely out of glucose (which comes from carbohydrate consumption) and feels exhausted.

This exhaustion can only be remedied by consuming carbohydrates. Simple carbs provide rapid glucose replacement (the reason for Sports Drinks), while complex carbs provide longer acting glucose replacement.

Next time a potential client gives you the excuse “I’m too tired to workout” or “I have no energy to workout” use what you just learned and instruct them that starting Personal Training Sessions with you, will give them more energy and better quality of life than they could ever imagine. Use the “I’m too tired” excuse to seal the deal, because if they don’t have energy, training with you will give it to them! Beyond exercise, there can be other reasons for low energy.

Chronic fatigue can be the result of Biochemical deficiencies. If you are working with Older Adults or very deconditioned Personal Training Clients, please study and learn the following list and consult with your clients’ doctors where appropriate.

Typical Energy Draws for Older Adults or VERY De-conditioned: Dehydration:

Studies of athletes show conclusively that even minor dehydration can sap performance. Without adequate water, you cease to sweat, your heart pumps less blood to the skin, and your core body temperature rises. All of this robs you of energy. You should be sure to drink at least eight cups of fluid a day. Do not count alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, both of which are diuretics and can dry you out.

One of the effects of the aging process is mild gradual dehydration. One caution if you recommend an increase in an individual’s intake of fluids: tell him or her to limit how much they drink after sunset. It is hard to get a good night sleep when you are constantly getting up to go the bathroom. If an individual wakes up for six or seven minutes, four times a night, it can add up to a half-hour of lost sleep. Or WORSE, they wake-up in a puddle, something else the right exercise can prevent!

Low Blood Pressure:

Fatigue is more common in people with low blood pressure, according to a population study published in the British Medical Journal. If a senior is frequently tired and often has episodes of light-headedness, you should recommend they see a doctor.

Low Testosterone:

Although it is not the first thing a health provider looks for, low testosterone can certainly cause fatigue. Studies indicate that roughly one in three men over age 65 has low testosterone levels. Yet, testosterone levels can be determined with a simple blood test, and if low, corrected rather easily with injections, a gel (applied to the chest or arm) or a patch. The results can be dramatic.

Patients with walkers who had taken testosterone have been known to discard their walkers and walk unaided.

Thyroid Problems:

An estimated 10 to 20% of older adults produce too little thyroid hormone without any obvious physical symptoms. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) is a very undiagnosed condition, particularly in the older population, because it mimics what many people think of as “normal” aging. Common symptoms include tiredness, possible loss of luster to the skin, hair and intolerance to cold temperatures. When detected and prescribed, a medication called levothyroxine supplies the body with a synthetic version of thyroid hormone and can often restore energy levels very quickly.


A prime symptom of anemia, a condition characterized by insufficient hemoglobin or red blood cells, is fatigue. One of the more common causes of anemia is low iron, but contrary to popular belief, this rarely has anything to do with diet. When older people lack iron in the blood, it is usually for one major reasons – internal bleeding.

That is not as horrible as it sounds. Minor internal bleeding can result from not so serious causes such as the liberal use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It can also be caused by such common conditions as diverticular disease, ulcers, or hemorrhoids. Anemia, whatever the cause, can be diagnosed with a blood test. Most common problems that lead to blood disorders have an easy remedy.


First, address the accuracy of their eyeglass prescription. Are your client’s eyeglass prescriptions up-to-date? If not, they could be blurring more than their vision. When someone’s eyes are tired, everything’s tired. Nothing tires eyes like peering into a computer screen for hours on end. For seniors who were bifocals, the fatigue can often be more extreme.

Because of their eyewear, many older adults will move their hear back and raise their chin to view the screen with the bottom part of their lenses. This will tire the neck considerably. The solution is to take frequent breaks from the computer and consider getting an extra pair of glasses with a focal power specific to the distance between them and the screen.


Most everyone knows that some cold pills can make you drowsy, but they may not realize that fatigue is a side effect of many other drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter. Common energy robbers include medications for blood pressure (Procardia, Inderal), depression (Zoloft, Elavil), anxiety (Xanax, Valium), and even infection (amoxicillin and cephalexin).

Although few people realize it, some non-narcotic pain relievers (Anapra, Naprosyn, even Aleve) can cause drowsiness. Sleeping pills are supposed to make you drowsy, of course, but some remain in the blood and leave you drowsy well into the next day. There are non-sedating alternatives to many medicines. For example, the newer generation of prescription sleeping pills, such as Ambien and Sonata, will help you to sleep and vanish from your system before you wake.

Disturbed Sleep:

Lazy days may be a result of fitful nights brought on by a sneaky often undiagnosed condition known as sleep apnea. Many people are unaware that sleep apnea is a frequent cause of daytime tiredness, according to a report in the August 2000 issue of the medical journal Chest. This condition occurs when the tongue flops back during sleep and blocks the airway, temporarily chokes your breathing dozens or ever hundreds of times a night.

People who have apnea briefly wake up each time it happens and their quality sleep time is substantially less rejuvenating. This condition can lead to serious day time fatigue. Apnea afflicts nearly one in four men and one in ten women, and the problem becomes more common with age. Heavy snoring can signal sleep apnea, though not all snorers are afflicted. To get a firm diagnosis, they may need to visit a sleep laboratory.

Late-Night Indulgences:

Alcohol right before bedtime can cause drowsiness, but it will do nothing to promote a good night’s sleep.  Liquor interferes with rapid eyes movement (REM) sleep, the refreshing part of sleep. The rule of thumb, a single glass of beer, wine or spirits taken with food at least three hours before bedtime should not create a problem for a sound sleep. Anything more, or later, is ill advised.

Eating too much too close to bedtime can also interfere with restful sleep. Heavy eating at night may upset the digestive tract, causing heartburn and interfering with a good night’s sleep. Suggest eating dinner between 5 and 7, and then if your client gets hungry, tell them to have a very light snack of sleep producing foods between 9 and 10. Bedtime foods of choice include milk (warm or cold), yogurt, cheese, turkey, and fish. These all contain the amino acid tryptophan, which converts to serotonin in the brain, helping you to feel drowsy.

Simple Boredom:

When someone has nothing to do, they tend to feel drowsy. That repetitive or constantly tired feeling could also be a signal of mild depression. Want to break the sleepy routine? Have your clients try something different. If the most exciting thing in their life right now is boring, it may be time to sign up for a college or adult education course, check out a museum, reconnect with old friends or get a pet, or if they don’t work, they can also try a paying or volunteer job.

Fatigue, of course, may not be caused by these aforementioned energy draws. If someone has been well and they suddenly feel fatigued, and it is not associated with something readily apparent like the flu, recommend them to a doctor. Addressing hidden energy drains above could certainly improve vigor. Removing these negatives is only part of the battle. Emphasizing the simple lifestyle changes that they have begun like regular exercise, proper nutrition, good sleep, and a positive attitude can make an immediate and tangible difference. Congratulate them for beginning this process.

Good Luck and Best Regards,

Dr. Jim Bell

CEO of the IFPA

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