After years (I’m talking close to 10) of dreaming of helping people via general health, nutrition, and fitness, my dream has finally come true. It is funny to view it that way, since it felt like less of a dream and more of a calling. Growing up the oldest of three kids, I had a natural inclination to help people. And since I was pretty good (though still a noob) and very interested (more accurate) in fitness and nutrition, I thought a great way to combine the two was through becoming a personal trainer initially, and then working my way up from there.
Not going to lie, when I finally started taking the steps toward becoming an actual professional personal trainer, it was nothing that I thought it would be. That is not to say that I do not love what I do, but the perception is made out to seem much more glorious than the actual practice. Fortunately for me, I was way ahead of the curve in terms of knowledge, and it has served me well thus far.
I’ve only spent two weeks in the world of professional personal training, but even that much time has given me perspective toward the nature of the industry, where I think it is probably going, and what I am going to do to make it better.
According to Jon Goodman, the founder of The Personal Trainer Development Center, the state of the personal training industry is all but lost in mediocrity. Although personal trainers are to fault for this, it isn’t entirely their fault. A major misconception in the health world, especially diet and weight loss, is the promise of instant results. With more brands than ever advertising quick weight loss diets, pills, and exercise programs, many people are falling in love with the idea and “falling short” of the promise made to them. This has continued for quite awhile, further discouraging people from believing there is hope for them to achieve their body composition goals.
Why Instant is Sexy and Long Term is Boring
You’re hungry. You’ve been at work for 8 hours and you missed lunch because you were too busy. If someone threw a banana peel at you, you’d probably eat it (or maybe lick the remaining banana from the rind). The last thing you want to do is go home and wait for food to cook. I totally get it. Now, when I was insane, I spent hours on end a week preparing my meals. But that’s beside the point. Instant everything has become the norm in today’s society. And this makes sense. We spend about 8 hours a day at work, 8 sleeping (if you’re lucky) and another 8 doing other things, like driving to and from work, picking up the kids from school, helping with homework, showering, using the bathroom… okay maybe that last one is just me. Point is, we do a lot of stuff and cooking to eat better is not fun. It is possible. But not fun, and definitely not sexy, or entertaining, so I get it. That being said, exercising is sexy. Especially to “Bitch Better Have My Money.”
There is also cause to believe that some of us human-like creatures can’t really see a future past the end of the week. We don’t like to plan (or if you are like me, you like planning, but nothing goes according to plan). This turns in motion a negative association with a long-term vision. The road map only extends this far. The rest is unforeseeable. Not only is planning long term goals hard to predict, but tracking progress can be a chore in and of itself, and we all know we have enough of those. That is why people hire someone like me. “You do the tracking, I’ll do the doing.”
Advice For Trainees Seeking Out a Personal Trainer
Understand, first and foremost, that any personal trainer is learning about you for the first time. They are learning how you move, what kind of condition you are in, your injuries, limitations, background, and personality all at once. They are doing it very fast, and they need to plan out your road map in about one to two sessions. That is a lot to take in, plan for, and predict in a short amount of time. That being said, if you are relatively new to consistent exercise and proper nutrition, just about any start on that path will produce results. So don’t sweat it (ha!). Okay, so what kind of advice can I give you. There is a lot, but I will outline what is most important
Your trainer should know your limits and work to improve them
If you can’t do a proper squat, let’s say, your trainer should recognize this and work with you to improve that, not shy away from the exercise because you can’t do it.
He/She should focus on teaching you multijoint movements, such as the squat, forward bending (deadlifts), lunges, presses, and pulls.
If your trainer is spending your entire session teaching you how to bicep curl, stretch, or foam roll, you need a new trainer. Those smaller areas should be covered at the end or the beginning, and not for long. If he/she is worth their salt, and your money means something to you, they will send you videos on how to do these, or do them for you pro-bono. No one should have to pay a trainer $30+ a session to foam roll.
He/She should care about your nutrition, give you recommendations, and ask you to keep a food journal.
It is probably the most boring thing out there to hear, and even I don’t like the reality of it, but nutrition makes the biggest difference in weight loss. That isn’t to say exercise isn’t key. But most people won’t be able to lose weight eating McDonalds and lifting in the gym. You need both, but nutrition is the deciding factor between being slightly overweight and being lean and feeling good (especially feeling good).