I wrote a few lines in yesterdays blog titled “I love being your personal trainer” regarding some meathead trainer quotes I came across. Even though I have had these quotes for more than a month, I still cannot shake how much those words bother me.
If anything, I should be thankful. Those words inspire me to be better in my profession. I decided that posting a fair and balanced blog on the subject couldn’t hurt and might even provide a therapeutic outlet. For those visiting my page for the first time, the meathead trainer is an actual trainer working for a commercial gym. The quotes in bold below are his thoughts on personal training and based on my recollected observations are quite accurate in his practice.
Meathead Quote #1: “Working out isn’t fun”
My take: It isn’t always fun. Matter of fact, there are times when working out plain sucks, but this is temporary. It is hard work and if your trainer is doing their job properly it will continue to be challenging as you progress in ability. CrossFit isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, yet they seem to have fun. Tough Mudder, Spartan Race et al certainly aren’t easy yet they have fun too. I’m sorry, but I can’t quite grasp why you CAN’T have some fun while working out.
Meathead Quote #2: “You can use the same workouts for everyone.”
My take: Where do I start on this one? Short answer, this is taking the word “personal” out of “personal training.”
Am I to understand a 20 year old male with the goal of gaining muscle mass, a 35 year old housewife wanting to drop 15 lbs of bodyfat and a 60 year old male with a history of shoulder injuries can all share the same workout routine? If this is true then all credentialing agencies and exercise science graduates need to take note.
The machine shoulder press is/was one of the staples in his singular program, allow me to breakdown this down….
For the 20 year old muscle gain client: The machine shoulder press isolates strictly to a singular area of the body. Overhead pressing a barbell would be a far better choice for this client for overall strength gains and muscular development.
For the 35 year old weight loss client: Isolation techniques such as the machine shoulder press are simply not metabolically expensive. A Squat to Barbell overhead press will recruit far more muscles at a lighter weight than a machine shoulder press.
For the 60 year old bad shoulder client: Raising a load overhead is not wise when dealing with clients with shoulder dysfunctions. Furthermore, a machine presents a two-dimensional fixed path of travel while the client needs joint health and range of motion improvement in a three-dimensional path.
Why the machine shoulder press over a dumbbell or barbell? My guess is because it doesn’t require spotting and needs very little instruction.
Meathead Quote #3: I’m blunt and straight forward with people. I’ll tell them they are fat, unhealthy and out of shape.”
My Take: Being blunt and straight forward are not entirely bad things, but having a degree of tact is important in client relationships. I actually have no problems using the words fat, out of shape or unhealthy, I have a problem in the context of how they are used.
Odds are the clients knows they are fat, unhealthy or out of shape and they WANT to change things. They wouldn’t have joined a gym and hired a trainer if this wasn’t the case. Bluntly reminding them about it is, in my opinion, a form of shaming that could be defined as bullying behavior.
Honestly, is telling a young woman (who is fat, or at least thinks she is fat) ever a good thing? Is telling a non-athlete they are weak or out of shape helping matters any? Words like this have a profound effect on people.
True story: A few months ago I served as a trainer for a free orientation. The prospective client was a tall 20 year old lady that was long and lean. She happened to wearing a sauna suit jacket “to get rid of her belly fat” …..this girl weighed less than 120 pounds. She wanted to lose the belly fat because her boyfriend since high school keeps calling her a fata$$.
This quickly darkened my mood. I told her to invite him to the gym to come workout with me. I may be the builder of bodies, but my patience for bullies is zero and I can quickly turn into the breaker of wills.
Clients: If your trainer is shaming you, this could be a means to get you into upgrading your personal training packages or is simply because the trainer is a jerk. Either way, fire that person and find someone that actually cares. There are plenty of trainers out there that do.
Yes, I have spoken bluntly with clients before and I am certain I will again someday. I have also spoken bluntly to my clients in a positive way. The effects of positive bluntness also have a profound effect on people.