The word experience in the context of personal training takes on several meanings. The immediate ones that come to mind are (a) How relatively experienced is the trainer or (b) How relatively experienced is the client.
I’ve decided to head in a different direction and write about the “other” experiences.
The Experience the Gym provides. This is based on what is contained within the gym walls and surrounding useable areas around the gym. It is the energy that the gym itself provides based on layout and design. Gyms exist on an entire spectrum from Dungeon types filled with iron,rust,dust and the smell of sweat and sound heavy things being dropped to family friendly non-threatning commercial properties, to luxury properties to those serving sports performance clients. Some clients, and trainers for that matter, can work within any environment, others cannot.
The lifting of weights can occur in any of the above type gyms, although each has some particular limitations. The gym vibes will differ.
The Experience of the Exercise. It has been said by brighter trainers that ANYONE can make an exercise harder. Literally, it takes zero skill. Can the trainer tailor an exercise to an individual based on the client defined range of motion, relative skill and tolerance level? Can the trainer communicate the feel of an exercise throughout the range of the movement, including the parts of the body NOT moving?
The Barbell Curl is a basic exercise that almost everyone has a rough idea of how to perform and was likely one of the first few lifts a person ever attempts. As simple as it appears, it is not initially as simple as “Grab-Curl-Repeat” Although considered an isolation movement for the biceps, there are 8 muscles directly involved in the movement and others that serve to brace the body, thereby preventing movement in unwanted ways. Isolation lifting is a full-body effort. Once skill is developed, you can grab-curl-repeat.
“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.” Bruce Lee
The Trainer Experience. Not to be confused with the Experience of the Trainer. This is an industry where someone still in their 20’s could have 8-10 years of practical experience, a person in their 40’s be a year one trainer with limited experience or, interestingly enough, a person holding a Master’s Degree in an Exercise Science and a string of letters behind their name that doesnt have a clue on how to coach a live person.
Using a machine comparison, which in one line of thinking would require less coaching than a comparable free-weight exercise. The machine itself dictates the path and stabilization is removed from the lifting requirements.
There is a difference between a “trainer” that simply counts reps and sets a pin without further regard compared to an actual trainer that sets up the same machine and trains the particular range of motion the client needs with attention to the details in the lift. The former is easily replaced by YouTube, the latter no so much.
Then there is the Dunning-Kruger effect. I believe there are degrees of the Dunning Kruger Effect where a person believes themselves more competent than they are, but DONT consider themselves better than others, more of on equal footing than anything else. It pays to know ones strengths and limitations. That said, there are trainers that load more than they can lift.
But I digress…the Trainer experience can be summed up as “The feeling the client has when interacting with you based on the vibe that you put out.” Are you professional in your service? are your personalizing the training for the client, or putting someone through the exercises you like to do?, Do you select the PROPER EXERCISES FOR THE CLIENT based on what they give you to work with? Do you apply a prudent amount of pressure, or back off when needed? Do you motivate?