Time Travel (1985-2017)

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(R) Steve Rogers(Captain America): The uniform? Aren’t the stars and stripes a little… old-fashioned?
Agent Phil Coulson: With everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned.

I’ve made some negative comments in the past regarding commercial trainers.Trust me when I say there will be more in the future and that I am sticking with my 1-2 out of every 10 being good opinion. The fact is I happen to personally know several young trainers (5yrs or less experience) who show so much promise, and I have such big hopes for them. Today’s blog (after a one week hiatus) was inspired over a thought I had the the other day.

Is it really that bad?…or am I just being a mean old b̶a̶s̶t̶a̶r̶d̶ goat?  Perhaps I’m behind the times, and not willing or able to adapt, or perhaps I hold some attachment to the way things used to be, and am old fashioned.

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The look on my face while observing stupid trainers do stupid stuff.

Personal Training is actually a fairly new industry. I’ve been part of it before my credentialing agencies were formed which means….gasp and swoon… at one time I was one of those uncertified trainers.

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Over the decades I’ve bore witness to so many things within the United States and abroad. If I were to time travel 1985 me to the modern day, would I be pleasantly surprised by what I saw?

Would I necessarily think things are that bad?

I would say things heavily depends on the gym, but in many ways the trainers of today could be considered better than those of the mid to late eighties.

Education has become so commonly available that it’s accessible within a few clicks. Numerous educators have gained international renown. Unfortunately not all information is reputable and it can be a challenge to separate fact from fiction. This hasn’t changed.

Equipment quality and designs have improved. There has been plenty of items that have come and gone that may initially have seemed like a great idea, only to fail when it came to actually doing anything for you…just like the eighties.

Programming and training special populations has expanded greatly. We have benefitted from lessons passed down from Olympic Coaches, Eastern Bloc training methodology and Physical Therapists.

CrossFit came along and changed the industry like nothing before it. Personally I see more positives than negatives with this.

On the negative side, a number of the lesser quality things have also managed to remain nearly intact.

Pin setters are still taking clients though a mindless cycle of machines. While machine circuit training isn’t the worst thing one could do (and for some people it’s one of the better options) it shouldn’t be the Alpha and Omega of all training. The upside is pin-setters are less frequently seen than compared to the Nautilus heyday.

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Pin Setter:  A pejorative term given to a person employed by a commercial gym that simply changes the weights pin setting on every machine the client is put through.  

BroScience is still being spouted. The funniest being when someone manages to get their BroScience wrong or cross breeds different BroScience topics.  Some of the driving ideas behind BroScience have been validated, others debunked and others partially proven true…but not for the reasons why the Bro’s initially thought.

If there’s any doubt that BroScience doesn’t exist, look no further than a well-known fitness Guru who claims that women shouldn’t lift weights over 3lbs/1.4kg as it will make them bulky.

SIDENOTE: Ask a natural bodybuilder male  (someone who intentionally trains to gain muscle) how hard it is to gain 3lbs/1.4kg of muscle.  Then subtract the loads he typically uses, his training intensity and frequency and nearly all of his testosterone.

Dinky weights won’t put on appreciable mass, and even relatively heavy ones won’t create bulky females.  They may be the starting point for a total beginner and all that an elderly or post-rehab can tolerate, but a healthy adult needs progressive overload.

Although not the best comparison, consider the physiques of the light-middle weight Powerlifter/Olympic Lifter and Crossfit female athletes.  They all lift heavy things and yet none are bulky.  At the non-Olympic level there have been plenty of ladies with less than exceptional athletic genetics that gained impressive physiques as well.

Becoming a trainer actually became somewhat easier. You don’t even necessarily need to know how to exercise. Trust me when I say I’ve seen this first hand.

In the eighties you had to be one of three things:

Somebody that looked like they knew what they were doing. This was usually the Bodybuilders, Powerlifters or the biggest/strongest/fittest people in the gym.

Somebody with a competitive background that proved they could do something.

Somebody that might not look the part or formerly was the part, but PRODUCED people who did.  These were the thinking trainers of their day.

I originally fell somewhere between the first two categories. Neither of which means you can actually train someone else but it doesn’t mean you cannot either.  I later fell forward into the third category after making a lot of early mistakes…and that was before I sat for a CPT exam.  I still consider myself a student and was surprised there was no practical evaluation of my skills needed to be a trainer.

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Top Right: The Instagram Fitness Guru. Bottom Left: Fanboys/Followers/Sheeple. Bottom Center: Someone that follows the Instagram Fitness Guru’s advice and gets hurt in the process.

In Social Media The pendulum swung the other way. It appears that anyone with some good genetics, possible photoshop skills,the ability to give themselves a fancy title and post inspirational memes can be a fitness guru. Just within my local area I know three “National Master Trainers” that meet this criteria, and I wouldn’t trust them to train a dog.

I believe time traveller me would be pleasantly surprised at the amount of information available and diversity of fitness offerings within the reach of most people. I’d be happy to see that there is year around opportunities for trainers to educate themselves and that social media could be helpful in this regard. I’d be happy to know that old school iron and chalk is still practiced and people still train with a purpose.

I’d be happy that Yoga increased in popularity along with growing interest in other older training methods (Calisthenics,Gymnastics,Indian Clubs,Kettlebell et al).

I’d be real happy knowing that I’m still in the gym with a thriving load of athletes, still able to make a difference in peoples lives and still have the desire to grow professionally.

Agent Coulson was right, people might just need a little old-fashioned.

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