I’ve been exercising in one form or another for two decades but I’ve only been a Personal Trainer for two years. Figuring it out is no different than most other professions. You work hard, study as much as you can get your hands on. Eventually, you ace a big exam and are awarded a nice diploma. Or a certificate of completion, or even just a checkmark on a clipboard, all of which denotes your newfound authority and makes your word law. Your future clients will be disciples speaking of you in reverent dulcet tones; spreading fables myths and inspirational tales of how you changed their life and the whole world.
It’s a nice vision to be sure and it’s there for the taking so long as you can carve out your own path with your eyes on the prize like an unstoppable juggernaut. The reality is that these trails have already been blazed and you’re now walking down paved roads same as everyone else. Streets named after these very legends you thought you would have become by now. You’re not discouraged though, you knew all this when you started. For most of you, this won’t even be a setback because you have accounted for the human element. Those who haven’t continue reading.
What I mean by the human element and as it relates to Personal Training and Fitness is the confidence inherent in us all. No matter who we are or where we are in our lives, there are things we know that are irrefutable and things we know about ourselves that nobody else ever will. This gives us our own stamp of approval as an authority on what is best for us. With every client, I have seen versions of this mindset outlined clearly so let me touch on it briefly as it relates to the unique challenges one faces in training and giving orders to another human being.
The Archetypal client comes to me with a need for my services. They could be in great shape and need a specific goal or trouble area to focus on. They could be recovering from surgery or other similar procedures and are hoping to regain lost flexibility, mobility or their very quality of life. It ultimately doesn’t matter the specifics. Bottom line, they need to get fit and I am just the right person to get them there. They’ve seen my social media posts, read my blogs, seen my photos, they’ve talked to other clients who rave about me. I am the authority and my word is law!
We discuss their plans and goals. The guys want to bring out the muscles in their arms, build an upper body that makes their chest pop that can flash a 6-pack and develop a strong butt. The girls are different. They want to tone their arms, build a strong core that makes their chest pop with a 6-pack and they all want to grow that J. Lo butt. Ok, mayhap they’re not so different fundamentally. Both sides want the same thing and I can work with that.
The difference comes when you get to the gym and the human element kicks in. I’m extolling the virtues of a cardio warmup as a way to loosen muscles and the benefits of elevating your heart rate and cardiac output in preparation for the upcoming training session. The client will look at me and nod in the right places while their eyes glaze over with doubt. Some are merely going through the motions. Saving the effort for the strength training portion of the session. Some are mildly upset and a little nervous that the session will eventually leave the treadmill. In their mind, the answer to everything they want is to run and run and run until their body gets the hint and all the muscles move into the right place and the fat disappears like the sand on an eroded shoreline all without lifting a single weight.
To anyone out there in the gym with or without a trainer, here is the blunt part of my manifesto. First of all, if you’re reading this on a bench or sitting on a machine that someone else could be using, get the fuck up and read this in the lounge or juice bar, people are here to work. If you’re reading this on a treadmill or bike, good for you, now take it up a notch and push yourself, If you can read this while running, you could be pushing yourself harder. With that out of the way, listen to your trainer. If you knew what to do in the gym, neither you or your trainer would be where they are right now.
To those that prefer lifting things and hate cardio; note that its an important part of the equation right next to your diet and proper form. To those that love cardio and only cardio, its part of an equation and NOT the entire answer. Running is an extremely damaging activity for the human body and will tear you apart from the inside out if done too frequently. There is no right answer or magical formula for everyone to follow as not everyone is the same. The role of the trainer that you hire is for them to figure out the best approach to help you. If you tell him as a woman that you don’t want to lift weights because you don’t want to develop the bodybuilder physique I advise you to review that theory. First of all, the mere act of weightlifting or strength training will not make you look like a bodybuilder. Your internal body composition and the hormones regulating them will not encounter that scenario unless you’re specifically taking pharmaceutical steps to change that. To the guys that are averse to cardio because its not something you need to do and you don’t want to lose too much mass; wrong on both counts. Your heart and lungs need to be pushed and challenged. The older you get, the more you will appreciate that. When you’re lifting weights,all the demands on your body increase. That includes caloric requirements for the motions you’re undertaking, air intake to oxygenate the blood traveling to the muscles that desperately need that air as well as the white blood cells for the microscopic tears in the muscle fibers that occur as you’re exercising. All of those processes are vastly improved on an individual with good cardio. Conversely, someone who likes to run will appreciate a strength training regimen that supplements their pace and lap time while keeping the body strong against inevitable wear and tear. Additionally, weightlifting happens to burn on average, slightly more calories than a cardio regimen due to the similarities as an endeavor that requires total body cooperation.
Need I go on? Haven’t I already said enough? Did he just use a swear word? can he do that? In a nutshell, when you hire a trainer, trust in them. They know what they’re doing, they know where you need to go and they want nothing more than to see you succeed. We can push, manipulate, trick you into doing what needs be done if it comes down to it. If you want results however and don’t want to waste your hard-earned money, meet us halfway. Thank you for reading.