Over the past few weeks I have had a few incidents that have led me to conclude that the fitness industry (and Personal Trainers in particular) have a fair bit to go before we are seen as viable options for everyone to improve their health and well being.
One client told me about a conversation she had with a friend who has Multiple Sclerosis, she had recommended that she should get in touch with us for a chat as she knew we have experience with working with clients specifically with this condition. The friend was reluctant however, as she was nervous to get in contact with a Personal Trainer given she hates the thought of being shouted at and being made to do exercises that will be too hard for her.
The second client was laughing when they told me that a friend of his was surprised that a Personal Trainer is working with someone like him (he is in his 60’s) as they thought that Personal Trainers only want to work with young, fit people.
Both of these stories highlight the bad stereotype that many people still hold about Personal Trainers. I’m guessing they have come to this belief through what they see on TV and social media. A quick search through social media and you will find lots of buffed up “dudes” and “dudettes” putting people through what can only be described as horrific looking workouts. For the vast majority of people these workouts will terrify them and further enhance their beliefs that exercise is not for them.
Unfortunately in 2021 there are also still lots of PT’s who only know how to talk in ‘gym talk’:
- “How much are you lifting?”
- “Go hard or go home!”
- “No pain, no gain.”
For the average person this can be very off putting and make them feel like they are on the outside of some kind of cult that is alien to them. Plus, from what I have seen on TV any program about fitness has inevitably got an arrogant, bullish trainer screaming at his victims calling them weak and belittling them.
Another example of how badly Personal Trainers can be viewed came this week via a physio who messaged a new client that we have started to to work with to help her back pain and keep her strong for her golf and tennis. We had requested that the client get more info from the physio on what she has been working on with her and what she would recommend we should focus on.
What came back from the physio was a message that clearly highlighted her lack of faith in Personal Trainers and that her belief was that Personal Trainers have little to no knowledge of anatomy and are likely to choose inappropriate exercises for a lady in her 60’s with back pain. The physio even suggested “if your trainer doesn’t know about the core sling systems he should do some research into them before working with you”
I have been working with core sling systems for 15 years!
We also have clients who keep the fact they are working with us a secret as they are embarrassed that their friends will make fun of them because they are not a gym type of person. Again this makes me sad that they have to feel this way. This should be something they are proud of as it is the actions they are taking that is bettering their health and helping their overall wellbeing. However because they don’t identify themselves as being a gym person they find it easier to not try to explain it and maybe fear ridicule from friends.
I am in my 20th year in the fitness industry and I can say hand on heart our industry has come on leaps and bounds in terms of our knowledge and professionalism. Unfortunately however like a lot of things in our modern society I think (or maybe hope) it is the noisy minority out there that are giving us Personal Trainers a terrible reputation. Hopefully there are plenty of great Personal Trainers out there who are making the fitness environment a welcoming place and doing everything they can within their capabilities to make every person feel like they do belong in a gym and that they can succeed, no matter their age, experience or fitness.
For me a good Personal Trainer should be delivering a client focused program, which is fully personalised for each individual, one that works them where they are at right now and which challenges them at levels that are appropriate for them. Our job is to encourage, support and guide. Not to demand, belittle or intimidate.
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