I have probably said this sentence at least a hundred times since becoming certified three years ago and taking on my first client. It has been the most perplexing sentence and introduction to me because I always find myself wondering immediately after I speak this sentence "What the hell does that mean to this person?".
I mean I know what it means to me. When I say I am a personal trainer I already have an understanding of what this entails and how this thing I am may benefit them.
But do they have the same understanding I have? What do they perceive a personal trainer to be? What preconceived notions do they hold about having a trainer?
These are all questions I ask myself from time to time when I meet a new person or potential client and introduce myself.
I still tend to be a bit self conscious about it. I am always afraid of being perceived as someone who lives at the gym, eats chicken breast day and night, and thinks that nothing is more important than fitting in a lift. I am afraid of people conjuring up images of Richard Simmons and Tony Horton.
I personally feel that people have a poor understanding of what a trainer is and the role they play in working with clients. I get this impression because of the massive amount of work I have to do with new clients in explaining to them that a trainer is not someone who holds your hand and babysits you during a workout.
So I wanted to take sometime to set the record straight and share my truth about of my role as a trainer in a clients life.
First I'll start with what I am not.
I am not a rep counter. If you need some to stand in front of you and tell you when your set is finished than I doubt you will ever get to where you want to be in life let alone achieve the physique or performance you have always desired.
I am not a cheerleader. If you need someone to scream and yell every time you do what your supposed to do than I recommend you go hangout at the local daycare. Toddlers thrive on positive reinforcement. As an adult you shouldn't expect a reward for doing the expected.
I am not personal-bag-of-shit-holder. This one is a reference to an analogy that Krista Scott Dixon of Precision Nutrition uses a lot, but to explain quick and easy I won't hold and store your emotional baggage or personal insecurities. I will help you work through them and encourage you to seek help with working through these cognitive dysfunctions, but I will not allow you to make me the storage unit for these things.
I am not your blankie. You know that blanket everyone had as a young kid that you drug around everywhere with you in order to allow you to be feel safe and secure. I won't be that for you. Your choices are your choices. I am not in the business of making you feel better about bad ones. I am in the business of fulfilling your goal
I am not your personal reminder. I do not give courtesy calls. I am twenty years hold and I have been using a calendar since I was 17 to manage my schedule. I expect my clients who are twice my age to be able to do the same. If you have an appointment scheduled you don't need to call or text ahead to see if we are on and you don't need to wait to here from me to confirm it. Show up ready to go.
I am not your crutch. I will not be responsible for making sure you are in the mood to train. I am not a motivational speaker. Come to the gym with a purpose. Come to the gym with an attitude of ferocity and it will be reflected back to you.
And finally just to get this off my chest . . .
I am a trainer, a professional. You hired me to perform a service for you. You told me that you wanted something and my job is to show you how to get there. If you don't want to train then don't come and train. You are the one paying me to train you. You aren't doing me a favor. I am giving you a service. If you don't want to take my advice and you don't want to do my program. Then why did you hire me?
Okay now that I got all those rants of my chest how about I share with you what I am.
I am a guide. I provide the plan to get you to where you want to be. I make sure that the plan continues to be effective, efficient, and practical. I provide advice and recommendations as the plan progresses. I will not carry you along the journey. You have to do your own walking, but I will lead the way.
I am a supporter. I give you what ever you need to be successful. Maybe it is diet advice. Maybe it is systems for preparing food. Or maybe it is referring you to a specialist for further evaluation. I will help you develop the skills necessary to be successful. I will provide you with the right tools for the job.
I am an accountability partner. I hold you to standards. I make sure you know what is expected to achieve your gaol and I make sure you know when you are not meeting those expectation. I call you out when your effort is not your very best and I make sure you don't allow yourself excuses. I don't care that no one else holds you accountable. I don't care that it is off putting to be told you aren't meeting expectations. I don't care that it makes you feel defensive. I am doing it in your best interest and because you hired me to get you to your goal and accountability is a necessity for that.
And the thing that I take the most serious . . . I am an example to my clients.
I have always believed that actions speak louder than words. I don't ever try and lead with my mouth, but rather with my hands and feet.
I live out what I teach my clients. If I haven't done it myself then I don't expect it from others.
I eat the right foods in the right amounts 90 percent of the time. I incorporate physical activity into my daily life. I perform structured training three to five days a week and I incorporate things which I suck at and things which I kickass at. I don't spend time dwelling on my faults, but rather devising strategies to make them my strengths. I encourage others to use nutrition and physical activity as vehicles to a more fulfilled life. I eat cake when I am invited to a birthday party. I eat to nourish my body not my emotions. I do not hold training as priority one in my life. I do not put down others. I have only good days and great days. I train and live with purpose. I always point the finger at myself before looking at others.
My role as a trainer is to provide accountability, support, and guidance to my clients. And just as important to serve as an example to my clients.
This maybe different then what other trainers see themselves as or perhaps what they believe their role is as a trainer, but this is my opinion and this is the role I seek to fulfill.
This has been a post that has been stirring in my heart for a long time. I have repeatedly begun writing it and have just as many times deleted it. I was afraid of putting off clients, current, past, and/or future.
But in the last few days these thoughts have been boiling over and I have reached a truth in myself that I am going to share who I am with people. I am going to make it known what I am all about as a trainer and person. And those who don't care for it can move on no hard feelings or resentment. And those who connect with it well those are the people who I will build a community with.
My brother introduced me to a quote from Henry David Thoreau this week that reads:
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
I instantly fell in love with it because I feel this idea resonate from my core.
I want truth and I want to give others truth.
No white washed or rose colored perspective.
I want to share true honest experiences with others. And if I expect others to give me truth above all else than I must do the same with them.
So there it is. My truth about what I believe my role is as a trainer.
Maybe you want nothing to do with me as a trainer now. Perhaps I am exactly what you are looking for.
Either way it doesn't make a difference because what you have just read is my truth, love it or hate it.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training