Personal Trainers get a bit of a bum deal. We're perceived as thickos, jocks, muscle bound, knuckle draggers, vainglorious, overly preened gym dwellers. I get it! We all know a Personal Trainer who fits that stereotype and it's a great image to poke fun at. So why do we keep going when we know our industry still retains this ridiculous reputation? What inspires us?
Recently I was discussing this with two Personal Trainer friends of mine, Chris Neilson from Solo Gym and Lynn Warren from Better:Gen. Chris has moved to PT from Occupational Therapy and uses all his skills to deliver accessible training for adults and children alike. He's in high demand from Youth Sports clubs for his great strength and conditioning instruction, however we have successfully shared clients from all age groups over the last few years because we offer similar reassuring, safe and effective training practices. Last year he was instrumental in leading employment readiness sessions in Dundee, using football training as a method of building rapport with hard to reach kids. Lynn has years of experience managing Day Care Centres as a Mental Health Professional and became a PT so she could combine those skills with exercise and fitness to provide a greater health impact on those same client groups. Better:Gen delivers classes to many care facilities in the Dundee and Angus area and she is regularly called upon to teach her skillset to young people as a confidence builder and inspirational speaker.
As you can imagine, our discussions about what motivates us didn't include gym muscles or instagram posts. We spoke about the ability to improve happiness in the immediate moment of delivering a class, the building of relationships over time and the satisfaction of seeing people achieve things they believed were impossible. One admission I made was that there is a tiny group of clients who inspire me the most. It tends to be the people who identify a change and really go for it. They're ready and primed to turn their lives around even before our first fitness analysis, just waiting for the guidance they need to best achieve it. These clients are such a joy to work with. It feels as if we've been destined to meet and are thrilled to have found one another. I enjoy the time I spend with these clients so much that around 4 years ago I wrote a free online course to help people reach that key stage before they walk through my door. It's my Find Your Why course. It arrives by email, takes 21 days to complete and prepares potential clients to work with me. When I finally meet these clients, we're ready to get started. After they've completed the online course, each session we spend quickly builds a stronger connection whether we're celebrating success or negotiating new challenge. Relationships such as these can't last forever and my job for such a client is to facilitate their change so once it's done, so am I. If I'm lucky, they'll come along to regular classes as part of their maintenance and I'll be able to offer some support from afar but if I've done my job well, they'll be spinning that plate without me. Many of my group exercise class members have come to me through PT so my week is happily spent viewing the results of such success stories, group upon group of inspiring individuals who are still making exercise work for them.
I regularly read in industry journals that the average career span of a Personal Trainer is from 1-3 years and this lack of permanence definitely feeds into the PT stereotype. Perhaps these failed PTs just didn't find their inspirational clients. I'll soon be entering my 15th year of Personal Training and I can't wait to meet who's coming through the door next. I know Chris and Lynn feel the same. Roll out the carpet for the next client.
Enjoy Good Health!