It’s like gym class, only it pays…
A disproportionately large number of fitness trainers choose their profession because, from the perspective of a fitness enthusiast, it appears to be a fun job that looks easier and more rewarding than a typical office job. To a young and active person, I can see why fitness training might appear to be a great career path. Helping people change their lives has got to be better than moving papers from pile A to pile B, while all the while a boss is staring over one’s shoulder.
I have often said that I feel like I’m on summer vacation year round. I make my living in shorts and bare feet, my commute involves stepping over my dog as I carry my coffee into my studio, and I’m never far from what I love most in life; my pretty little weights. I have a good gig and I try hard never to forget that. Because I have always lived for the gym, I have built my life so that I now live in the gym – literally.
Shining Light On The Career Path…
I may refer to myself as self-employed, but I actually have 26 bosses – 26 people who trust me with their time and their money, and who have the expectation that they receive equal value from those investments. I work very hard every day to try to give them value in my product. My product is not my equipment, my knowledge, nor my planned workouts. My product is the sum of all of those things, communicated well.
The reality is fitness training takes a great deal of work. It’s a job like any other job, and a business like any other business. Days can often be long. Some sessions will go better than others. At the end of the workweek it always feels good to be done. At the end of the weekend though, it always feels good to get back to work – for me anyway.
That said, there are a lot of lemming fitness trainers out there – mindless and bored, and going through the motions as so many office lemmings also go through the motions of their jobs; moving papers about their cubicles, avoiding their bosses, sending and returning emails, and doing scarcely enough to keep a paycheck coming.
What to seek from a fitness trainer…
Most people I speak with in search of a fitness trainer look primarily for knowledge and education. Clearly these are important components of a trainer’s skill-set. I often think though, they are overemphasized. Knowledge and education are only part of what is needed to be a quality fitness trainer. Being a good trainer requires impeccable speaking and listening skills.
One can possess all the knowledge in the world, but if he can’t communicate that knowledge effectively, it will go unused. Conversely, a strong communicator can thoroughly teach the fundamentals of exercise, which in many cases, is all a trainee will require. Basic fitness skills, taught completely, can go a long way in helping someone take ownership of their body.
A trainer who possesses good listening skills will have a much better understanding of the trainee’s needs, limitations, mindset, and personal values. Of all the qualities a good trainer must possess, in my opinion, being a good listener should be near or at the tip of the list. With that, the trainer should seek most of all, to understand the trainee’s personal values, and gradually influence those values to include more mindful decisions with regard to personal wellness.
How he wrangles…
The number one priority a fitness trainer should have is to establish the threshold and capacity of his trainee in all aspects of fitness including; balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility as immediately as possible. Only after these are established, can a trainer engage in his second priority; to slowly, and in small increments, increase those thresholds, while promoting safe but challenging exercise.
Cultivate. Another primary responsibility of the trainer is to cultivate progress, not to force it. Cultivating an increased fitness level is a process which requires planning, patience, consistency, and teamwork. There’s no “I” in teamwork, but there’s meat work if you rearrange the letters. To get the meat to work, both trainer and trainee must be on the same page and committed.
A few things to keep in mind when selecting a fitness trainer…
If the trainer is still wearing his diamond encrusted high school football number on a sliver chain around his neck, be leery of him. He is his first priority.
If on meeting a trainer, there is a cell phone in one of his hands, and a protein drink in the other, he may not be your guy.
If the trainer looks like he needs a trainer more than you do, run!
Sincerely, there is much to consider when selecting a trainer, far beyond the size of his arms, the shape of her ass, or the number of “certifications” they might hold.
What I encourage everyone to do who might be in search a fitness trainer is to remember first and foremost, you are going to be that trainer’s boss! He or she will be your employee. Don’t just look for a trainer, interview many. Interview them as you would interview any potential employee in the workplace, always with the perspective that you won’t want to interview a replacement anytime soon. Interview well… rc