The “Problem” with “Trainers”

Is that there isn’t just one “problem”

now kirk, aren’t you a trainer?

In fact I am, and I don’t excuse myself from these “truths”.

The word “trainer” barely means anything. Strictly speaking, everyone you know could be a “trainer” in some capacity. It doesn’t mean they are qualified, educated, or even right.

There are dozens of training certifications in the country, some costing THOUSANDS of dollars, and taking MONTHS to complete, with a moderate failure/retake rate. There are others that cost $99 and can be done in a long weekend. There is also just about EVERYTHING in between.

I hear it all the time from my friends: “but my trainer said…” “well, I was talking to my trainer…” “thats not what my trainer told me”, etc. etc. etc. So today, I’m going to give you the survival basics of “training/ exercise/ nutrition professionals”

Qualify your Professional:

Again, ask who his/her credential is through. There are right and wrong answers to this question. Not that you can’t have a REALLY smart/decent trainer that for whatever reason got their credential through whatever organization, BUT there are certain credentials that assure you that at very least, they have a solid foundation of knowledge. The TOP five on MOST lists are:

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

American Council of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

American Counsel on Exercise (ACE)

These five are nationally accredited, have generally good curriculums, and moderate to high standards on continuing education and recertification. If your trainer doesn’t have one of these, I would be weary of their advice. And if I was being honest, there are a few up there, that if that is all they had, I would STILL be weary of their advice. For me (personally) I REALLY trust NASM and ACSM. Every trainer I’ve ever met that I truly respected, or blog/paper/research I’ve followed that I found sound, came from someone with one of those titles in their by-line (or they were a doctor/nutritionist/ or had a DEGREE in exercise science – the other way to be certified)

Most trainers who really take themselves and their craft seriously, will have several certifications. So ask your trainer about his/her experience. Ask him/her who their credential is through. Where have they achieved their continued education? Or to be straight up blunt, say; “training is expensive, why should I pay you? what makes you so special?

Ask your trainer about you!

LOTS of bargain bin trainers (and nearly all that work at LA Fitness) will put you on a modification of a set program. They’ll make it easier/harder based on you, but the regiment itself won’t be based on you. Unless you are showing up because you like that specific regiment, this is almost NEVER as effective as having something that was built FOR YOU. If you like a protocol, go to the class. A spin class/ Zumba Class/ body pump class/ CrossFit WOD/ Bootcamp are all going to be cheaper than a personal trainer. If you are looking for a regiment modified for you, don’t pay a trainer to just count reps for you.
A common problem for trainers (or really people in most professions) is that we only know what we’ve been taught, or been told. And MOST importantly, we only know and truly believe in what worked on US. So, we are converts to a method we find particularly effective, the one that our mentor swore by, the one that showed us the results we wanted on US. Why wouldn’t we, we have personal experience. But YOU AREN”T US!

This is why I LOVE body typing, and why at all three gyms I’ve worked at, I’ve become booked out very quickly. I will happily put someone on a regiment, or plan that I would NEVER dream of doing, or I’ll build a diet that would be REALLY stupid for ME. If your prospective trainer can’t qualify themselves by explaining what they are going to do for YOU SPECIFICALLY, based on YOUR movement analysis, YOUR body compositional issues, and YOUR BODY TYPE, seriously, go to a BodyPump class, it is WAAY cheaper and will be just as effective.

Don’t buy the dream!
If your future trainer attempts to tell you how easy its going to be, or how quickly it’ll work, or tries to sell you something that just sounds SOO FANTASTIC!!! Proceed with caution. Due to restrictions and limitations in the industry, and the reason I have left ALL gyms that I have trained at, is that trainers are often REQUIRED to make a certain number of sales per cycle. It turns someone who has studied to be a fitness professional into a salesman. These are not translatable skills. I need my clients to trust me, but I also need money. So if I’m responsible for turning over clients, it becomes about telling them what they want to hear, if I’m responsible for their success, I need to tell them what they NEED to hear. Simply put, if your trainer is “selling” you, you need to be careful. My last gym REQUIRED me to sell packages to people that I didn’t feel actually were in line with their fitness goals. To do so, I had to often become slightly-moderatley misleading. I finally quit when my gym was requiring me to all out lie. Wouldn’t do it.

I’m not saying if your trainer is a good salesman, they are a bad trainer. What I am saying is, if they are the one responsible for selling you your fitness protocol, how can you actually trust you are getting what you need, and NOT what is the best sale for them. Tread cautiously.

I’m not trying to sound negative about trainers, I’m not. But the industry is rife with meat heads and pseudo-scientists. People that have been taught one way by their mentor/certification and can’t grasp those outside of that protocol. They are walking infomercials with a glimmer of before-and-after pictures in their eyes.

Trainers are one of the greatest things you can get for yourself. A good trainer will care about you. A good trainer will think about you. A GREAT trainer will work on you/for you during the dozens of hours of the week you aren’t paying them. Getting a trainer can change your life. Just qualify them, make sure they understand what makes you, you. Find out why they are putting you on the plan they are putting you on. Why this protocol? If you know who they are, why they are, what they are, trainers can be an invaluable asset. But if you just take the trainer that was assigned to you by the globogym on the corner, you very well may be just paying for someone who saw a Chuck Norris movie once and decided they wanted to be a badass.

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One Response to “The “Problem” with “Trainers””

  1. This is solid, sound and basically a longer, more broad version of the advice I’ve given people. I just tell people to do their research.

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