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Sucking Off Your Client's (Energy)- Perspectives On Being An Energy Vampire Coach

Whenever a client has a bad session, it bothers me for about 2 days. If it's my fault, it might last a week. If it's downright appalling, well, I remember a resistance band smashing a woman called Gemma in the face in 2012.

For another 2 days I worry that I've lost the client forever. I asses what I did wrong so I can be better in future.

The problem often lies in psychic vampirism which mens I've said or done something to lead a client towards being drained or out of the groove, or I blatantly haven't been the best part of their day.

Bad Coach Chris!

2021 saw me discover my favourite film and TV universe, What We Do In The Shadows.

The film and the TV show is excellent.

In the TV show, there is a vampire called Colin Robinson. Colin Robinson is a special kind of vampire because Colin Robinson is an energy vampire.

"I don't live to drain, I drain to live!"

Colin Robinson

I think coaches become emotion sucking fitness energy vampires 1) because I wanted to write about Shadows and 2) I see coaches (including me) mismanaging their clients all the time. Examples of this include putting a shy person in the middle of the gym doing an exercise which makes them feel silly or asking someone who is stressed about work to chat about how much work they need to do that evening.

To combat this, I reached out to the most emotionally intelligent coaches I know for their perspectives, then for some reason chimed in with my own thoughts on the subject because my ego is massive.

Jason Leenaarts



Instagram: @jasonleenaarts

Host of The Revolutionary You! Podcast

You can hear him on my show HERE

You can hear me on his show HERE

We're told, as coaches, that we should be the best part of our client's day. It requires being attentive, listening to the best of our ability and showing that we care beyond the set, the rep, and the number on the scale.

We're also told to be human and to show that we're not just automatons who can blindly go through the motions of our days, our diets, and our own training plans. And surely, you're more than a rep jockey, right?

Chris- I can't even keep count!

Like a lot of the things we learn and then try to apply, the reality plots us somewhere in the middle.

Sometimes, we learn more about our clients than we know what to do with (or be within scope to help) and sometimes we vomit too many of our personal problems on a client who made the mistake of simply asking "How was your weekend?" when the weekend was terrible.

As coaches, we're often in the position of wearing several hats: movement specialist, nutrition coach and therapist all within the same training session. It's a lot of responsibility and the ones who have lasting careers in the industry know their limitations and know when to refer out.

It's on the point of limitations where being an energy vampire resides.

I do believe your clients should be aware of the human side of you. As someone who routinely uses his blog and his podcast to break down the barriers of what we can share, I triumph the behavior.

However, I also know there's a time and a place.

If you go through a life-altering scenario like the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship/marriage, or another traumatic event, show that side of you. Don't fear vulnerability.

But be aware, and mindful, of the fact that your client(s) pay you for safe haven and sanctuary. A place to get stronger, a place for a social element and a place free of judgment to be themselves. Unless you're willing to pay them back that money so that you can put them in the coach's seat, respect their time and know when to pull back.

If you truly feel that a client can be of service to you based on something you're struggling with, offer to take them to lunch or coffee/tea and make a case. That way, the gym floor remains sanctuary.

And, of course, if you truly need, seek the help of a qualified therapist. Just like our clients need coping skills, sometimes we do, too.

Reanne Francis

Coach/Online Coach

Owner: Reanimate Performance

Instagram: @reanne_francis


TIP: Your clients pay you to elevate their energy and vitality not to drain it so as soon as you step onto that gym floor make the client your no.1 priority not your own ego. One of my dance teachers used to say “leave your shit at the door, come and train then pick it back up when you leave with a new perspective.”

The client comes first, it’s great that clients may feel connected enough with you to ask about your personal life but just because they ask a question that doesn’t give you the permission to dump all your problems onto them. Clients should ALWAYS leave the gym floor feeling better when they first walked in so… don’t bitch and leave your shit at the door ✌🏽

Shane McLean

Writer for publications such as Barbend, Breaking Muscle and Muscle & Fitness

Writing Mentor via Fitness Flow Writing Services

Instagram: @balanceguytraining

You can hear him on the podcast HERE

Taking a client's mental energy means you're demanding their attention when when you should focusing of them. And that's the point correct?

You need to be giving them energy rather than than taking it. My number one tip to coaches to keep this from happening is shut up, listen to the client and maintain eye contact.

Sometimes being human and showing empathy is more important than sets, reps and cues.

Tony Gentilcore

Owner: CORE


Online Coach

Coach of coaches


Instagram: @tonygentilcore

"Hmmmm, I’d say my one tip would be to stop tossing out incessant cues. I think alot of coaches blurt out cue after cue after cue that it confuses, if not altogether intimidates clients.

Outside of the client hurting him or herself, I like to let them finish their set and THEN provide ONE cue if necessary for them to work on.

However, oftentimes, I like to just let the client figure shit out on their own. Keeping my mouth shut is one of the best things I can do as their coach."

Chris Kershaw

The Heavy Metal Strength Coach

Instagram: @theheavymetalstrengthcoach

Learning how to read the room is the best way to avoid psychic vampirism combined with creating a safe space and a solid foundation of rapport between you and your client(s).

Some tips on reading the room to reduce your vampirism:

- If a client is focussed and ready to smash some big lifts, this isn't the time to get into the stressful weekend you've just had and how much the end of Game of Thrones sucked arse

- When a client mentions something negative in their life it's prudent to ask if they want to dig into what they said or whether they want to have a session where they can just forget about it, or if they want to have a good moan.

- When someone is having a hard time at work, but they have another shift or numerous days to work in a row, people want to forget that shit for an hour or so. Ball throws and slams often work best for this.

- Want to be the worst kind of psychic vampire coach? Start each session with something they suck at

- Nothing feels better than doing something you are good at

- Clients often get flustered when they are doing something new or if they feel they are doing something wrong. Learn how each of our clients' respond and learn when to persevere and when to change focus

- Sometimes you need to shut the fuck up and listen

An incompetent energy vampire knows when to encourage a client to ease off the brakes and step their foot on the accelerator and vice versa. The incompetent vampire knows when to pull back to do some curls, or when to do some serious bonding over a protein bar and a coffee.

What do I mean by this?

To cater to your clients' needs you need to be adaptable, based on how they are on a given day and the ever changing direction a session may need to go to provide the client with a good enough experience.

You'll drain someone's energy if they are already stressed out and you insist on a technical, in-depth, theory heavy session, but equally, when that same person comes in adequately recovered, you'll shatter their positive energy by insisting on a session of bicep curls because they might like a fun session.

Unless they want a sick arm pump for when they go out after the session of course.

Thinking long-term a coach should always be looking for the things like words, intonations, and body language that produces the environment allowing a client to make the most progress. You might note down your thoughts in your client's file or in a notebook that gym members have genuinely asked whether it's a grimoire.

OK, I might be the only coach who has a grimoire-esque notebook.

Often coaches feel the need to improve the mindset of our clients which is certainly true. Unfortunately for us coaches this means we'll often have to be the willing victim of energy vampirism to get the job done.

To get a client in a good or better place may require a huge sacrifice of emotional energy, which is why Personal Training is far more emotionally demanding than new or aspiring coaches realise.

Be prepared to be fed upon. That's coaching. Where possible (we're human after all) don't feed on your clients' energy!

By Chris Kershaw

The Heavy Metal Strength Coach

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