Personal Trainers and their Hopeful Demise

An invaluable read if you are curious about, or considering hiring a personal trainer to better your fitness & health.

 

When I first began studying Kinesiology, a friend asked if it was because I wanted to become a personal trainer.  I thought the notion couldn’t be any more ludicrous.

Drop and give me 20! source.

I mean really?  Me?  Five foot 8 (and a half), 145lbs (soaking wet), blowing whistles and yelling at people to “give it all you got!” and “push it to the next envelope!”

How could anyone take me seriously, let alone me take myself seriously?

Ya right.

Not to mention, why anyone would need to hire someone for help with exercise escaped me .

To me it was a no brainer:

Each day you get up, salute the sun, go to the gym, practice your kata, join your teammates, hop on your bike, go for a run – you move your body.  It feels good and it keeps you healthy.  It relieves stress, and it’s fun.  Easy peasy.

But, like many, I had misconceptions of the profession, and it wasn’t until further into my education that I began to dispel my previous assumptions and realize the true value, and need for personal trainers.

 

First, committing to your fitness and health is not always easy peasy.

Nope.

That was my own ignorance, believing that because something came easy for me, it was easy for everyone.

Personal Trainer = Your Body Mechanic. source.

Just like I need to hire a mechanic to fix my car, or an accountant to balance my books, some need help with their fitness and health.

We all tend to have a vocation that comes naturally while other endeavours do not.  Not to say we can’t direct more time to explore other interests, often our hobbies, but we only have so much time and energy, and we can’t learn and do it all.

So what about the rest?  Leave it to the experts.

 

Second, the science of exercise is intricate, in depth, and continuously evolving.

There is so much more than meets the eye, with a vast amount of information to understand and competently apply, and as much misinformation to sift through and discredit (I’ll be the first to admit that sectors of the fitness industry are a real racket, and if you’re not savvy, the wool will be pulled tightly over your eyes).

Furthermore, personal training extends well beyond just exercise routines, and addresses many aspects of fitness, health, and lifestyle.

 

Third – there  is no defining a physique or body type that epitomizes fit and healthy or defines a trainer.

Of course it is absolutely imperative that all trainers practice what they preach, but when it comes down to it, it’s brain over brawn that really matters, especially for the critical task of helping you care for your fitness & health.

 

So in the end, I did choose personal training as my career path, and have never looked back.

I LOVE MY JOB.

I love to be in the position to be able to help others, and in fitness & health, help is greatly needed.  However, although we are each solely responsible for our own fitness & health, we are only responsible for the pursuit, we’re not necessarily expected to have all the know-how.   Unfortunately, in general, we simply have not received adequate education to confidently take care of our own fitness & health.

This is a situation that needs to be rectified.  STAT.

Fortunately, it just so happens that personal trainers are (perhaps unnaturally) obsessed with fitness and health, and make it their business to learn the ins and outs and all things related.

We can help to lead the way.

 

Enter the Trainer

 

OK.  Personal trainers justified.

Now, how the heck do you find a good one? 

Then, how the heck do you get rid of them?

 

Step 1: Do your homework.

 

The personal training industry is highly unregulated, and a certified trainer can have as little as 16 hours of training (no joke) to a university degree, diploma, and/or years more of recognized and accredited certifications.

So once you’ve identified a trainer that you fancy, start digging.  Check their credentials, their background, and search for reviews.  Equally as important to consider is their experience, philosophy, methods, and personality.

Now, I most definitely do not claim to be the trainer for everyone.  Some will like me, some will not.  However, I have identified what I believe, and promote, to be good qualities, and perhaps not so good qualities, to look for in a trainer.

Let’s work backward.

Buyer beware:

The Flexer – while they are “training” you, they are either flirting with you, other trainers, other trainer’s clients, or more often than not, their own reflection.

The Imposter – your workouts may be tough, but instead of being tailored specifically to you, they’re pulled from the most recent fitness magazine, adapted from the most recent trend, or more often than not, the same workout they did that morning.

The Poser – in it for the “glamour”, they lead your sessions wearing designer jeans while sipping a latte, show up late, forget your name, check texts during your session, and leave you lunging the length of the gym while they chat up their colleague.

The Mystic – their training style lacks enthusiasm, is shrouded in vagueness but with promises of grandeur.  Their knowledge is questionable but they have seemingly mystical powers making it difficult to break free from their clutches… and up-sells.

The Schmoozer – more business than personal training, to them you are a dollar sign.  They have more charisma than Muhammad Ali, and are more interested in selling you a membership, the next best supplement, or their new program for washboard abs, than they are realistically training you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting these as characteristics of a bad person, only cautionary traits when looking for a trainer.   Shining personalities aside, some may have an understanding of the the ways of the gym, but perhaps would make a better workout partner than someone you hire to direct you toward your own specific goals (unless your goal is to be like them!).

What to look for:

The Coach

More than just a dispenser of grueling workouts, they are unquestionably knowledgeable about the body and your health.  They are educated in anatomy and exercise physiology, bio-mechanics, principles of fitness and nutrition, and just as importantly they are able and willing to educate you accordingly.

A session with them feels genuine.  They quickly adapt your goals as their goals.  They’re attentive, invested, and dedicated.  They listen, are empathetic and sympathetic.  They are energetic, efficient and motivated, focused on form, safety, and progression.

They are not just about making you sweat and “feel the burn”, they are fully committed to your success, and address the unquestionable uniqueness that is you.

 

They are eternally positive and you want them in your corner.

 

 

Bottom line:

  • Be sure to meet with your future trainer before signing on the dotted line.
  • Be sure you get along, and be sure you believe in their abilities.
  • Spend as much time researching your trainer as you would your doctor, your mechanic…   or at the very least your hairdresser.

After all, you are going to spend a lot of time with this person, and you’re going to relinquish them undeniable power to tell you what you to do, and grant them indisputable control over your most important asset – your health!

 

Step 2: Choose your Style.

 

Not one better than the other, there are various formats and different approaches to personal training that you will want to consider.

What’s your style? source.

Boot camps, small groups, or private sessions, bodybuilding, weight loss, or functional training – all are legit and depend on what you’re after.

Most trainers will offer a combination of one or more, but also often specialize or have expertise in certain areas.  Take the time to look into options, compare and contrast, then choose what’s best for you.

 

Step 3: Hire Them and Fire Them!

 

It’s go time!

An informed shopper, you made the wise choice and got yourself a good personal trainer.

Congrats!

Your trainer will teach you how to be healthy, not just yell at tell you how.   Knowledge is power, but more importantly empowers; empowers you with the skills to one day confidently take care of yourself.

Once you have the confidence and understanding to take care of your own fitness & health, you can then confidently fire them.

They may not say it, but a trainer’s ultimate goal should really be their eventual termination: to guide you to a place that you can comfortably kick’em to the curb.  Adios amigo.

 

Ah… the sweet taste of success.

 

Then you will have the ability to pay it forward and help those close to you, and so on, and so forth, and so it continues…

This is how we can all get better. 

Until finally no longer needed, the celebrated extinction of trainers.

 

As a trainer and blogger, in fitness & health, this is my goal.  To help set you free, and take us one-step closer to a personal trainer free world…

Just sayin’

j.

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