Building a program for every last one of your clients from scratch can be like reinventing the wheel; at best you’ll waste an awful lot of time coming to a similar solution, and at worst you’ll convince yourself that a less effective solution—a hexagonal wheel, for example—is just as good as the original.
So if you’re not starting from scratch, does that mean you’re cheating people?
Look, it’s called personal training—a certain degree of tailorization is both promised and appropriate—but that doesn’t mean we need to ignore the obvious similarities between people.
As human beings we have a whole lot more that makes us similar than we do that makes us different.
Taken a step further, think about your clients through the following lens(es):
Notice anything? There are probably at least three or four areas where you see a lot of overlap between clients. Does it really make sense to ignore those in some misguided effort to customize everything you do?
If you've already written a great muscle building program for a middle-aged lawyer, wouldn’t that be a good place to start for the accountant who want to fill out his t-shirts? It’s like the programming version of “Mad Libs”… the framework is already there, you just need to fill in the blanks with appropriate choices.
This isn’t an invitation to be lazy; instead, it’s about recognizing that too much customization may actually pull you away from what works. There's a difference between building a bespoke program and just tailoring something to fit; more often than not both trainer and client are better served by the latter. I'll argue that being forced to choose between the two is a false dichotomy, when it comes down to it I’d rather be effective than personal.