Monthly Archives: August 2017

Five Years Later

Over the past fives there has been some significant changes, while other things have remained relatively intact. I’ve changed my mind on a number of things and make no apologies.

I still prefer free-weights over machine training, however I am not as opposed to machines as I once was and they serve a purpose beyond aesthetic development.

It’s been my observation that many trainers cannot teach the proper execution of the basic barbell lifts, or even machines for that matter.  This is indicative of a problem in the certification process.  The value of courses with live components that test ones ability to perform and coach lifts cannot be emphasized enough.  Simply passing a written exam is not enough, not matter how academically challenging.

Bodyweight training has always been present, and over the past two years has increased in my programming.

I still don’t train people on unstable objects, but would if there was a direct need. Trainers that are quick to put people on unstable surfaces often have a very hard time telling me their “why?” behind the exercise.

My client base has completely changed completely, and many of the clients I had five years ago are still with me. For that, I am a blessed man.  In addition to my in-person training, I have several international clients as well as deployed military personnel.  At present, all my clients are younger than me.

Five years ago greater than 70% of my clients were older than me and nearly 100% had notable physical issues.  Although it partly contributed to minor professional burnout, part of me misses working with that population, and I still believe they are under-served.  I’ve found that I do best when my client types are relatively balanced. Being something of an extrovert by nature, I thrive with stimulation.

Due to a highly packed schedule it was previously difficult to find time to train myself.  Now I have more than enough time to accomplish both, as I intentionally limit the number of clients I see in a single day.  I’ve personally found it best to separate my training from days I train others.  Both ends suffer when I combine them, and I refuse to be one of the idiot trainers that get in their own workout during the clients paid time.

While not a present issue, If licensure for Personal Trainers were to become law, then there is a good chance that I would leave the profession both as a coach and an educator.  Would I still attend courses and keep my reading habits? I’m sure I would.  It would just suck that there would be nobody to share it with.

I have found myself moving in the opposite direction of my initial certification body.  This feeling has continued to grow stronger over the years and I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

In terms of the majority of commercial gyms, I am convinced that I am unhireable. Not so much due to my education or certifications but rather due to a combination of my age and the 100% likelihood of me speaking my mind….and the fact that I’ve been told I can be intimidating  during interviews.

My advice to first and second year trainers, if you are offered upon hire the position of assistant fitness manager/assistant personal training sales manager I ask that consider NOT taking the offer.  Did you go through the process of getting certified in the first place to sell personal training packages, or actually train people?

Professionally, I have become less tolerant of under-performers. This could be a result of age,unrealistic expectations or previous bad experiences.  I will gladly help someone trying to elevate themselves, and I continue to do so at my own financial expense. You wouldn’t believe how many books have never been returned, and even some equipment loans have failed to come back.    








Five Years Ago


Five years (and two months) ago I retired following 24yrs of military service. I decided that I would enjoy a profession that would allow me to make use of my backgrounds in leadership,problem solving and education and ideally, not let me watch myself get fat in the process.

Three months following retirement I began training civilian populations at a commercial gym. I had trained civilians before, but this represented an exposure to a far wider range of them.

Before my hiring, I earned a certified personal trainer certification and a Fitness Nutrition specialization. My military trainer qualifications didn’t carry-over and the courses weren’t that bad.  In full transparency, I barely studied for the exams.  I reviewed the proprietary information and had to brush up on the exercise science portions.  I always review the exercise technique descriptions as different texts describe things differently.

Three months later I added a Corrective Exercise specialization, which was a completely new way of looking things, and one that I have been moving away from.

I wasn’t a brand new trainer.  I already had close to two decades of practical experience.  I simply wasn’t certified based on the industry standards and my military instructor qualifications only mattered while I was actually serving.

I personally wouldn’t have chosen the Correct Exercise specialization in the first place, but two important things spurred the decision.
(1) I was assigned an unusually high number of elderly and highly de-conditioned clients. This was odd as my primary background and experience was in strength and general physical preparedness, not post-rehab or geriatric fitness.  Eventually, my senior citizen and de-conditioned population greatly outnumbered any other trainers, even if combining several trainers together.

(2) I was being falsely advertised as a Corrective Exercise Specialist before I even signed up for the course.  I couldn’t stand the thought of not living up to billing.

Because of this situation, I rarely taught the barbell lifts. In my mind the clientele were largely not physically prepared for it and the time allotted (25min) was insufficient for the task at hand. Kettlebells weren’t a consideration at the time, or even an option as the gym didn’t have any.

In fairness, it was a very good experience for me as I learned the values of empathy and client defined exercise programming.  The military skill of learning how to become passably smart on a given topic quickly came in hand, and this in turn grew my professional library.

SIDETONE: At the time, the only option I knew of for Kettlebell instruction was the RKC or Girevoy Sport. Five years later there are several highly credible organizations, and a few not worth the paper they are printed on.

I didn’t know that many trainers weren’t certified and that gyms would still hire them, or that bad trainers outnumbered good ones and that gyms would retain them provided they continued to sell.  I always knew there would be a proportion of substandard trainers, but had no idea it was such a high number.


Despite formal instruction suggesting otherwise, I never touched a Bosu. Five years later I find myself in a gym without one. Does the Bosu have its place (aside from comedy material?) Yes, but the questions that needs be asked; Does the clients goal require its inclusion? What is the intent of the exercise and was the person being put on the Bosu properly progressed?

Insanity was the popular home program at the time, and a number of my middle-aged clients had spoke of it. Namely about the injuries they incurred. Some trainers were even going so far as to copy the material.  I know this because I borrowed a DVD copy as well as the manuals that came with it. I managed to complete the program to gain an understanding of it. Yes, it was challenging.

If a fit, healthy weight person that knows the extent of their injury history and has decent exercise form has problems with the program, what are the odds an unfit,overweight/obese person that may not know the extent of their injury history and not the greatest exercise form will fare better?

Yes, the latter will lose weight.  Frequency and Intensity along with inefficient movement  and a caloric deficit tends to create weightloss.

Insanity also my first encounters with MLM peddlers. I had no idea there were so many MLM peddlers in the field. Many started off as peddlers then became trainers, others were the opposite scenario.  Based on observation a percentage hop between various MLM ventures.  I’ve always wondered if the original MLM was so great, why did they leave it for another?

SIDENOTE: I could care less if someone likes a particular MLM product. That is their choice and pocketbook. It’s when they start trying to push it on to clients, or other trainers and their clients is where I have a professional problem.


I’ve given up trying to convince otherwise good trainers to leave MLM.  I considered requesting the Pro-MLM trainers to put together a group of four and engage  in a civil debate in an open forum.  I would gather three Anti-MLM trainers on my side, and believe me I say that I would come rolling in with serious gangsters.

In the end I decided it would be a waste of time, and I have doubts that the Pro-MLM side would be able to field a team.