Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hard Truths About Personal Trainers And The Fitness Industry

As a practising personal trainer and owner of a personal training business here in Singapore, I've been asked many times what it means and how it feels being part of the fitness community at large.

Well, I can't speak on behalf of every single trainer or coach here in the country - as there are simply so many different trainers, contrasting training approaches, varied fitness niches, and diversification of fitness services across the industry today.

More importantly, I'm sure every single trainer/coach out there would have his/her own personal and unique views regarding the profession too.

Thus, for the purpose of this blog post, I would rather focus on what I - or rather, WE, of the personal training industry - are NOT.

The following represents some of the most commonly-held myths and misconceptions about us - trainers and coaches - and my personal take on these issues, as well as the "hard truths" behind many of these assumptions:

1) We Are NOT "Know-It-Alls".


Contrary to common portrayal, the majority of personal trainers are NOT arrogant, loud-mouthed, "Know-It-Alls" - often too eager to impose their training ideas and opinions on every poor soul unfortunate enough to cross their paths!!

In truth, with the massive and constant flow of information on exercise, nutrition and training being churned out from sports laboratories and exercise institutions from around the world, it takes a brave (and extremely foolhardy) soul to claim to know EVERYTHING there is to know about fitness and training.

Simply put, there is absolutely NO way that any trainer or coach  - myself included - can boast to have ALL the necessary answers and information at our fingertips ALL the time!

To be fair, many of us DO try our very best to keep up-to-date with our profession and industry via the following means: subscribing to scientific exercise journals, joining professional fitness associations, attending seminars, workshops, conventions etc etc. Not to mention, the hefty time and monetary investments that we constantly put into continuing education and the pursuit of advanced/specialized credentials - all in the name of bettering ourselves and being able to serve our clients more optimally.

However, to expect us somehow to know EVERYTHING and ANYTHING under the sun about fitness or exercise or nutrition, and at the mere snap of one's fingers - is perhaps asking too much from us .......

Personally, having been involved in health and fitness for almost 20 years, and having committed myself to being a lifelong learner, I still feel humbled by the fact that the more I read and study about fitness and its related subjects, the more I realize that there is still so much more to learn about ......

2) We Are NOT Perfect Physical Specimens Ourselves.

In case you are still unaware, the majority of personal trainers and fitness coaches out there simply do NOT look like Greek Gods/Goddesses or Cover Page Models.

In fact, most of us DON'T even walk around with 5% Body Fat Percentages or even possess "Six-Pack-Abs" year-round!!!

Bearing in mind that our physiques are often a result of our own sporting backgrounds, exercise choices, genetic makeups, competitive schedules/cycles, training philosophies etc - it should be no surprise that we - fitness professionals - come in ALL Shapes and Sizes!!

Add to that, like everybody else, we are NOT robots but HUMANS - each with our own share of fitness struggles and health concerns -  including, but not limited to: current/past training injuries, structural dysfunctions, muscular imbalances and even existing medical conditions - all of which contribute greatly to our eventual physical make-up.

Taking myself as an example, being of relatively small Asian build, coupled with a high metabolic rate (which could both be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it), and a strong inclination to train functionally with my own body-weight - have all predisposed me to a physique that is more lean- and athletic-looking rather than one that is Heavily-Muscled and/or Herculean in nature (not that I would mind at all, to be honest :)) Add to that, past training injuries, existing dysfunctions/imbalances and personal lifestyle choices have all also played a part in how my body shape has evolved over the years ........

3) We are NOT All About Fitness And Nothing Else!

Contrary to popular opinion, we - Personal Trainers and Fitness Professionals - are NOT all Fitness Fanatics, with absolutely NO Life outside of fitness; and who choose to do NOTHING else but eat, sleep and breathe fitness 24/7.

In reality, most fitness trainers and coaches - like myself - have families and loved ones that we can't wait to spend time with, as well as our very own social life and interest - OUTSIDE of fitness.

For me, seeking BALANCE between the different aspects of my life have always been my main priority and challenge all these years, and that's why even with increasing business commitments, I have always made it a point to have blocked-out time-slots in my weekly schedule to allow me to LIVE MY LIFE - to do things that I truly enjoy, like: "dating" my wife, spending time with my kids, working out, getting close to Nature, doing some Quiet Reading, or simply indulging in any other pastime that fancies me at that moment ............

4) We are NOT Sadists Seeking To Push You Till You Throw-Up Or Pass-Out!

Recent fitness trends, exercise fads and media hype have unfortunately added to the misconception that a personal trainer's job is to push you over and beyond your limits - such that you either: 1) collapse from sheer exhaustion during your workout, 2) puke uncontrollably in the midst/at the end of your workout, and/or 3) ending-up so sore that you can hardly move a limb for a week!

 Add to that, out-dated and extreme fitness cliches like: "No Pain No Gain""Go Hard Or Go Home""Train Till You Drop" etc etc and you can see why so many people equate personal training with torture, abuse and sadomasochism!

Fortunately, the truth is far from the above. I can safely say that the majority of legitimate and qualified trainers and coaches out there do NOT subscribe to such extreme or drastic training measures. In fact, most fitness authorities and experts have unreservedly stated that such drastic and extreme training methods are not only scientifically UNSOUND, but also extremely UNSAFE!!

From a professional point of view, I believe that proper exercise programming should always have SAFETY as its Number One Priority. It should also follow a logical sequence of PROGRESSION (in terms of scaling difficulty levels) and then finally, only if  there are NO existing medical concerns, contraindications or complications - then the program should also seek to actively CHALLENGE the individual - albeit always WITHIN that person's capabilities and limits - so as to elicit positive adaptations in the body. 

Certainly, NO sound or proper fitness program should ever seek to push you BEYOND your limits (nor even to the point of vomit-inducing) - just in the name of fitness or training!!!

5) We Are NOT Miracle Workers!


Sadly, in this age and time, there are still people out there who believe that simply by engaging a personal trainer or fitness coach gives them a FREE PASS to a fabulous body and/or supreme fitness!

Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but that's NOT how life works!!!

The TRUTH is this: If you DON'T do your part - Nobody, and I mean NOBODY - can help you achieve that Ideal Body or Fitness of yours !

If one has been in this profession long enough, most personal trainers - including myself - would have come across the following types of clients - time and again:

- those who NEVER do their prescribed exercises or "homework" outside of supervised sessions,
- those who persistently FAIL to adhere to recommended dietary/nutritional practices,
- those who stubbornly REFUSE to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, and
- those who are always coming up with EXCUSES of one kind or another for their lack of progress and/or commitment ......

Please remember:  

A Personal Trainer is NOT a Miracle Worker! He/She CANNOT change you, if you are NOT willing to put in the required effort to change yourself!!

As Jim Rohn once said: "You must take Personal Responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change YOURSELF."

With the above account, I hope I have finally set the record straight - once and for all - on what we - personal trainers - are and are not.

Hopefully, these "hard truths" have given you some food for thought, and also, a deeper insight into the Life, Joy, Pain and Frustrations of every personal trainer and fitness coach out here on Planet Earth!

2 comments:

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