Getting outside and doing physical activity, like hiking or swimming, are rejuvenating and wonderful activities for anyone to do at least from time to time.
But depending on a person’s health, they may need to ease their way into the activity, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor yeahiliketohike regularly trained new groups of people on hiking trails of varying difficulty, and they based their training plan on the group’s current fitness level.
When a recent group was dishonest about their fitness level and had unrealistic expectations for their journey, the Original Poster (OP) decided they weren’t a good match for training.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for canceling on a group of very out-of-shape women that hired me to train and guide their hikes?”
The OP recently started training a new group on their hiking journey.
“First up, please know I am trying my best to be kind in my wording. I run a small operation where I guide groups or help train them to be able to hike. I have served all kinds of clients.”
“I got an inquiry for a group called, ‘Women’s+ Adventures,’ and because it was during Pride Month, I thought maybe it was an LGBTQ+ group.”
“I chatted with the head of the group, collected the information (hiking levels, what have they done before, etc), we exchanged money, and I started the training plan.”
“The group wanted to work up to ‘A-14er,’ which if you do them, you know there’s all kinds. Going off what everyone reported, I decided on Gray’s Peak. It’s one of the easiest and most rewarding because of the beautiful valley it’s in.”
But the group was not at the fitness level the OP was expecting.
“When I arrived for our first group hike, I learned ‘Women’s+’ meant plus-sized women rather than LGBTQ+. No issue, their forms all said they were in good condition to start.”
“But the first hike was… awful. It was a short, 4-mile round trip, with 750 feet of elevation gain.”
“Several of them ignored my list of suggestions for attire, footwear, supplies, etc.”
“When we got started hiking, it was very slow. One woman was upset we were starting with something so strenuous and asked for a break every 1/2 mile. One ate all of her snacks after the first break. There were lots of complaints of it being too hard, too long, etc.”
The group’s expectations for the experience were also askew.
“After we got back (6 hours later), I pulled the head aside and asked if everyone was truthful on their abilities forms.”
“She insisted it was all true and then got annoyed that I didn’t believe them.”
“When I suggested we aim for a smaller goal, she was obviously very offended.”
“I gave them all ‘homework,’ which was to make sure to take a brisk 1-hour walk every day to prepare for the next hike.”
“Several of them laughed at me incredulously.”
The OP realized they might not be a fit to work together.
“The second hike went even worse. I had an 8-week plan in place, and it was obvious to me this wasn’t going to work. So I called the head and told her that I thought it was best if I refund the cost pro-rated from the two hikes we did.”
“Well, she threw a huge tantrum and called me all kinds of names, and insinuated that I am fatphobic, that I’m mocking them, etc.”
“Please, PLEASE keep in mind that I have helped train several overweight people, including a pair of women in their 60s who send me pictures all the time of their great adventures. I consider myself to be VERY patient.”
“One of them said they thought we would start with something like a walk in a local park to get us ready to hike in a few weeks. Simply put, they weren’t realistic with their expectations.”
The OP’s decision completely backfired.
“I refunded the money and ended contact, only to find my social media bombarded by hate from all kinds of people. You can guess what I was called.”
“I felt awful, and in talking over this with people, several told me I was an a**hole for not powering through, that I should have given them THREE chances, and that I should have had more patience and understanding that not everyone is a natural athlete.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said it sounded like the OP had done what they could to help the group.
“NTA. You gave them proper instructions and training exercises. You even tried to adjust the goals to fit the group you had yet these women would not budge.”
“You can’t help a group like that unless they want it.” – theduchessofpizza
“The OP said, ‘When I told them they need an hour of walking every day to prepare for the next trip they laughed at me.'”
“And this makes it even worse: ‘One of them said they thought we would start with something like a walk in a local park to get us ready to hike in a few weeks.'”
“They wanted to pay OP to do stuff they could do (and were advised to) themselves. They’re not just a**holes, they’re also really dumb.” – noopper
“As an overweight guy, what the group did p**ses me off. Because of people like this, strangers judge me and think I can’t hike or am lazy or something like that. These women are doing a disservice to these stereotypes about us.”
“I can most definitely hike, and when I’m tired, I don’t complain. I just keep going. I’m better at hiking than plenty of the thin people I know, and they keep constantly complaining about how tired they are.” – Eteel
“To be honest, it sounds like only the leader is the a**hole. She probably filled out everyone else’s forms on their behalf. The other women did have realistic expectations for their hiking abilities.”
“OP only chatted with the head, and one of the group thought they’d start with a walk through a park? It’s like everyone but the head wanted to do couch to 5k and the head wanted to make some kind of obnoxious point with, ‘See, fat women can do ANYTHING fit people can do and in only 8 weeks!'”
“Sigh. OP is obviously NTA.” – reddheadd75
“OP, if you haven’t got it in your contract already, have you considered specifically designating the first hike as a conditioning assessment?”
“Spell out in your contract that if the assessment shows their goals are not achievable within the number of sessions in the contract that the contract is canceled and they owe only the first hike.”
“If they want to continue training with you, it would be a new contract, based on the assessment hike. Also, failure to obey safety rules is an automatic no-go. Jeez, NTA.” – GeeWhiskers
Others suggested that the OP stand up for themselves on social media.
“This is the kind of thing where OP should grab one of their comments and explain why what happened happened. Like when people rate a place one star because of discrimination but the owner responds and says, ‘Excuse me, we refused to serve you because you were heavily intoxicated, and we are an all-African-American staff, soooo, discrimination where?'”
“OP can totally tag the group or comment and say, ‘I told them that they needed X type of shoes and one of them showed up in sandals. When I told them they need an hour of walking every day to prepare for the next trip, they laughed at me. I have trained overweight people before and the difference here is that these ladies didn’t want to work with me.'”
“He can also reach out to the old ladies and overweight people he did train and ask them to vouch for him.” – AnimalLover38
“A good alternative would be to say, ‘I have trained many clients in a wide variety of beginner fitness levels, weight levels, and ages.’ Maybe if OP posted about it, past clients would comment or chime in on their own accord!”
“OP could also repost or quote reviews people have left him publicly.” – outerspace95390
“NTA. When you wrote, ‘it was obvious to me this wasn’t going to work,’ my initial thought to this was along the lines of, ‘Well, that’s not your call, let them try,’ but guess what? You are the expert.”
“Nothing in what you said made it seem like you were biased in your decision. You are losing money on the gig. I’m guessing you did everyone a favor. Sucks that you got blasted for doing what’s right.” – pottersquash
“NTA. The head of the group was too stubborn to admit that her group was not truthful about their abilities. You have the right to choose which clients you take on and which ones you don’t. As an overweight woman myself, I’d leave that group after that first hike. They sounded so annoying.”
“You are not obligated to give them three chances. If you had given them three chances to start with then that same person would have said you should have given them four. You are not an a**hole at all.”
“You didn’t walk up, see they were overweight, and walk away. You tried to do what you were hired to do and they made your job very difficult. You did not have to ‘power through’ any of that. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone got hurt on a future hike because they’re too proud to take advice from an expert.” – VeryAngryCNA
“Rather than OP using his own judgment call in the messaging, maybe a better approach would have been to keep on with the outings but let the performance of the group dictate the pace of accomplishment. That way, gauging the group’s willingness to work and the goal adjustment would have been up to the group, not him.”
“Something like: ‘Gray’s Peak is the easiest and most scenic of the 14ers. That’s a great goal. In order to attempt it safely, the group needs to be able to do a round-trip hike to X and back in 4 hours or less. Here is the series of hikes I’ve planned to get us to that point. If we aren’t able to do X, then instead of hiking Gray’s Peak on the final outing, we’ll go to Y.'”
“At that point, just be as encouraging as possible and collect the money. What OP said was fair, but it was received as, ‘You folks are too out of shape for me to even take your money.’ I can see why they were able to find grounds to take offense, even though I think they’re wrong.”
“OP should put out a graciously-worded statement on his social media that, ‘I work with all ages and ability levels and will work hard to help you achieve your goals. My first priority is the safety and health of all clients.'” – lieberkrieger
The subReddit completely understood why the OP felt the need to back out of working with this group, even though they took the news poorly. Perhaps the OP could have phrased their concerns better than they did, but given their intentions and taking safety precautions, they had clearly done the right thing.