Posts Tagged ‘Trainer’

Something pretty funny happened last week during a personal training session with one of my clients. They were in the middle of a workout, and like a lot of us do when we’re tired, they miscounted reps of one movement before moving onto the next. Conveniently, it was the movement they enjoy performing the least. “Whoa, nice try. Three more,” I said with a smile on my face. “No way, that was 10!” they replied back to me, obviously unimpressed with my challenge. “We’re in a gym with no one else around. I’m literally watching you work out and counting your reps for you. I’m pretty sure I know how to count to 10,” is the only thing I could think to say. Just waiting for the witty response I knew was coming next, they hit me with, “I guess you’re right. Do trainers even know how to count past 15? I feel like you’re all just glorified counters!” We both laughed, they finished the three reps, and we continued the session.

I’ve been a full-time personal trainer, athletic coach, health and fitness professional (or whatever you want to call what I do) for over half of a decade, and I have been doing some combination of all of those things part time for most of my life. Yet when I’m asked what I do for a living, I still don’t really know how to respond. When I say personal trainer the image of a person texting and sipping on a Big Gulp while standing next to their client who is “warming up” on a treadmill with a 20 minute jog for the first third of their hour-long session is the what pops into my brain, so I don’t love saying that. But, it IS what I am, right?

I remember sitting in my high school Psychology class with Mr. Will, and thinking to myself, “People are awesome!” Every single person we come in contact with in the world is a completely unique individual. With their own beliefs, past, goals, and quirks. And in my line of work, I get to come into contact with people from so many walks of life. I liked the subject so much that I ended up majoring and getting a Psych degree in college. It’s also one of the best parts of my job today! In one class there’ll be a high school sophomore tripping over their own legs as their body goes through some major changes, a stay-at-home dad coming to terms with not having a 9-5 because his wife is the primary bread winner and their kids love having him home, a retired couple that chose to improve their health and reconnect through fitness, and the CEO who has to block out an hour on their calendar in order to find time to work out.

While it may sometimes seem like being a personal trainer is just reading words on a white board and barking orders at paying customers, I’ve always viewed it as much more than that. It’s being given the privilege to help shape the moods and lives of the people I work with. Have a stressful day at work? Want to celebrate fitting into that dress for the first time in years? Need to let off some steam after a fight with a significant other? Earning the beers you’re going to have after work tomorrow? I’m tasked with navigating the “right now” of every person I train, every single time I see them, and understanding that tomorrow that person could be in a completely different head space. The best part is that I absolutely cherish the responsibility. So yeah, I’m “just a personal trainer,” but it’s so much more than that to me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!



“Do as I say, not as I do” is a saying that is often associated with negative scenarios. A kid gets yelled at by their parents for saying a bad word, that they learned from hearing their parents say in the first place. A prosecutor being arrested for some heinous crime that he fought against for years. *Insert the story of any current politician resigning due to reason x, y, or z* You get the point.


In personal training and coaching, however, I feel it’s much more common to encounter this situation. Some clients are elite-level athletes that are able to do things that their trainer could have never dreamed of doing themselves. Other coaches are past their own athletic prime, but have an incredible understanding of human performance. And then there’s the coaches who were never amazing athletes by their own right, but are simply incredible educators and motivators.

My old friend, Kevin Ogar (Owner of CrossFit Watchtower), always said that the best coaches were the second-tier athletes. Top tier athletes were typically so good, and so genetically gifted, that it would be hard for them to explain what comes so natural for them to others. Second tier athletes became good at their sport or craft because of years of hard work. Since they got to where they were through trial and error over time, they would often be more effective in helping others with progressions, and offering support through their trials and tribulations.


I had a conversation with a personal trainer last night who explained that he would never ask his clients to perform something he couldn’t do himself. Now, I understand the concept of what he was trying to say. Be responsible, don’t create absurd movements or circuits for your athletes that could get them hurt (which happens a lot in our industry), and so on. But I fundamentally disagree with him. In my opinion, being an effective coach means training and empowering others to perform to THEIR full potential safely. Not your own.

For example, in CrossFit the Strict Ring Muscle-Up is considered a fairly advanced movement.  I know dozens of trainers who aren’t able to this movement themselves. Does that mean that they should never teach others to do them, as long the movement and progressions are taught safely? To me, the answer is obvious.

This also brings the up to question of the physical appearance of the trainers, themselves. Some people love looking at trainers who are specimens of human perfection! Six pack abs, a booty strong enough to bounce a quarter ten feet in the air, arms or legs the size of tree trunks. But does the body of a trainer have anything to do with their ability to help others? I don’t think it does. Of course, there’s a distinction between a coach who is 80lbs overweight and eats fast food every day and someone who works out regularly and is still “normal person” healthy. I’m not suggesting that anyone wants to be coached by someone who has “really let themselves go,” merely saying that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between physique and effectiveness.


I know there’s no Right or Wrong answer to this topic, but I think it’s a really interesting one to discuss! Do you feel it’s important that trainers are able to do all of the things they ask of their clients? Do coaches need to look a certain way in order to be effective or credible? Let me know!