What a great position we are in at M&F. Every day we get to draw from the wisdom of the best bodies and brightest brains in the fitness industry and package it up to help you reach your health, physique, and performance goals. This is especially rewarding for me, the incurable fitness junkie and human guinea pig for many of the programs I get to write about. It’s an amazing privilege, to be sure. But it’s also a heavy responsibility.

Recently, I was on a photo shoot at a gym during normal business hours, feet away from a group of about 25 “boot campers.” As they sweat their way through various intervals of bodyweight work, I was surprised to see the instructor out in front, eyeballing his watch (and little else). From my vantage point, I could see a number of the participants grimacing through several of the exercises, likely due to easily corrected deficiencies in form: hips sagging on pushups, heels coming off the floor on squats, etc. None of this is uncommon in a group setting. I waited for the trainer to walk through and coach them through these difficulties, but that moment never came. Instead, he sat idly out front, focused intently on the timer, until it was time to move on. Eventually, at his urging, the class moved on to another activity out of my view, in a more distant part of the gym. They didn’t realize it, but for many in the class these few minutes had been completely wasted.

Watching the Clock Instead of the Client

Unfortunately, this scene is repeated far too frequently in gymscapes across the globe. Trainers show up to call out reps, rather than instill fundamentals. Trainers watch the clock, without watching the clients. Trainers put clients at risk, rather than putting them in a position to succeed.

Like us, trainers are charged with educating the people they serve. Withholding guidance or correction abandons this fundamental duty and fosters the kind of lasting dependence that isn’t good for anyone—except the trainer. Of course, we certainly hope that you continue relying on us for new ideas to add to your pursuit of a stronger, fitter physique. I assure you we won’t just watch the clock or count reps.

We don’t want you to be chained to beginner status in perpetuity. Each month we give you the complete playbook—the programs, the techniques, the science—that can help you graduate to the next level, where you can help educate others.

Here’s something they won’t tell you when they sign you up for that next month of sessions at the gym: The greatest reward for a trainer or coach should be the client who no longer needs him.