If you are considering engaging a personal trainer, and even more, if you are considering becoming a personal trainer, please read this.
What do you think a personal trainer does?
I asked this question on my facebook page, and I got some great answers – all from people who currently have a personal trainer or have used the services of one at some point.
There was no answer from anyone who has never had a trainer…
And we wouldn’t expect there to be, right? I mean, if you have never had a personal trainer how could you be expected to know what a personal trainer does?
By what you see on TV? (genuinely awful).
Or what you see on social media? (horribly awful unless you know who to follow – but then if you’ve never had a personal trainer you don’t really know what a personal trainer does so how could you know who is good to follow and who isn’t?!).
And yet it is people who have never had a trainer before who are joining gyms right now and expecting to know what to look for in a trainer, and to have an expectation of what to get for their money, or worryingly who make the decision to try to navigate the gym environment alone.
And even more worryingly, there are a number of people completing personal training courses and about to begin work in this industry who have never had a trainer themselves, and therefore have no real idea of what a personal trainer really can do or should do.
Words that came up on the facebook post in answer to “what does a personal trainer do?” (and I agree with them all):
Yep, all true.
A good personal trainer will take you to a place that you wouldn’t go to on your own. They will do that safely and with your goals (and not their ego) in mind.
A good personal trainer will know when you need to go hard, and also when it is more important for you not to.
A good personal trainer will correct your technique, give you immediate feedback on form and give you tips on how to get the most out of your workout.
A good personal trainer will work with you to help you understand roadblocks to success and how to overcome them as you journey towards your goal.
A good personal trainer will understand that you are human, that you have good days and bad days, and will tailor the intensity of your session to suit that.
A good personal trainer will inspire you, educate you, be on your team.
A good personal trainer will believe in you until you believe in yourself.
A good personal trainer will care about their own personal learning and development so that they can provide you with a better service.
That all sounds great, and it’s true, and it is probably a list that most people could come up with fairly quickly.
But it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how it FEELS to have someone in your corner.
On the days when you don’t know what to do.
On the days when you feel like sh*t.
On the days when you nail it.
On the days when you don’t.
On the days when it hurts.
On the days when it seems too hard.
On the days when you make that break through.
On the days when you know you could not have done it by yourself.
If you have never had a personal trainer you can’t be expected to understand that underneath all the technical knowledge and encouraging words and counting is something a lot more powerful.
I wrote the original post mainly in response to a question that I had from someone who is currently studying to become a personal trainer (and who will make an amazing trainer when she is ready!)
“Do you have a trainer? …Why?”
It was a great question. Yes I have some pretty flash quals and certs. Yes I can write my own programs. Yes I can critique my own form. Yes I can push myself through a hashtag brutal workout. Yes I have done courses and bootcamps and internships and learned some amazing things from some amazing people. Yes I know stuff and I know how to do stuff.
I have a trainer because ‘knowing stuff and knowing how to do stuff’ is not where it ends.
If you are looking at joining a gym for the first time to pursue your health and fitness goals, PLEASE invest in some time with a personal trainer. Learn how to get the most out of your gym membership by learning just what it is possible to achieve at the gym – there is so much more to life than cardio division, or the 3 sets of 10 reps program that you photocopied out of (wo)Men’s Health. If you want to know whether or not they are the right trainer for you, don’t ask them about their qualifications and certificates – ask them about their own training, who inspires them, and who they learn from.
And if you are looking at becoming a personal trainer, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD invest in time with a personal trainer, and then another, and then another.
Find someone that you connect with and ask them to train you over an extended period of time. Set a goal – a hard one. Work with your trainer to achieve your goal. You know, the way you hope someone is going to want you to work with them…
Take the time to learn exactly what it is that a personal trainer does.