The One Gift NOT To Give This Season

I'll be blunt: If you are thinking about buying a gift certificate for wellness this holiday season for someone you care about, please reconsider.

I'm a personal trainer and I have officially decided to no longer offer gift certificates for my services.

I am a personal trainer and food coach, and I'm currently staring at the stack of receipts from last year’s gift certificates that have gone unused. I have officially decided to no longer offer gift certificates for my services, and although this might sound a bit harsh, here’s why:

My biggest goal for all my clients is to help them achieve their fitness goals.

I know from years of experience that my most successful and happiest clients succeed wildly because they want to be fit, healthy, stronger, more defined, and in better shape. They reach their goals because they really want to, for themselves.

They also pay for their own sessions and might even feel the pain of the cost, which further increases the value of each session. These clients take my direction very seriously because they are spending their hard-earned money — and time — with me, instead of spending it elsewhere. It’s a winning equation. And I want my clients to win. That is what I am being paid for.

Although it’s tempting to purchase what seems like the “perfect” gift, please know that body and weight issues are terribly sensitive and personal for most.

While I am sure your gift idea is well-meaning, please understand that your gift might not set your recipient up for success, and your recipient’s appreciation might also not match your good intentions.

Those who are in need of guidance from a coach because they are struggling with their weight and lack of fitness already know they have an issue. The comfort level they have with sharing their struggles with you will determine how they receive your gift, and more importantly, whether it will ever be put to good use.

Here are three important considerations before making a purchase:

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1. If your recipient has NEVER discussed their issues with you, your gift might not be welcome.

It actually might lead to awkwardness, discomfort, or resentment. Do not assume you know what is best for them by purchasing a gift of your idea for "improvement" for them. Instead, buy them a gift certificate for a massage!

2. Even if your recipient has discussed their struggles openly with you, it's still not a great idea.

Your friend might be on a fitness and/or food plan already, working toward their goals. Do not attempt to veer them off course with a program that you believe is better. Instead, be supportive of their efforts and complimentary of the hard work that is involved. For an alternative gift idea, buy them a gift card to a sneaker or workout gear store.

3. If the recipient has mentioned a program they want to do but complain it’s too costly, then it’s okay to chip in.

If your recipient has shared their struggles with you AND has specifically mentioned a particular program or trainer that they feel is right for them yet is concerned about the cost, then perhaps the gift will be well-received. I do strongly suggest, though, that you offer a cash gift with a note to use the gift as they choose, including a sincere explanation that you heard their fitness wishes, but leave the final arrangements to them. It’s okay to facilitate the service in this case, but let them make the initial calls and connections.

Although it’s tempting to purchase what seems like the “perfect” gift, please know that body and weight issues are terribly sensitive and personal for most, even those closest to you. The best — and most helpful — gifts we can offer those we care about are neither wrapped in fancy paper nor stuffed in holiday gift holders but are rather the ongoing care, love, friendship, and understanding that cannot be bought at any price.

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