T Nation

Personal Training

I understand now why a lot of personal trainers just use the machines for their clients. I visited home for Thanksgiving and my Mom wanted me to come to the gym with her and her friend and evaluate what she was doing as a workout. She showed me, and it is what you expect of a 50 year old who has no idea. So I spent the majority of the time teaching them how to squat and press, which took about an hour and a half, they look a lot better now, but still have a long way to go. I understand how lazy personal trainers can just do machines. I know I was getting frustrated and it was my Mom.

Larry: I thought you were going to say because of LEGAL concerns. I tell you…living in America, and facing the prospect of training a totally clueless, beginning older person, I ain’t going “WestSide”. I’m doing machines, light dumbells and walking in order to protect my Lawsuit exposed ass!

Paul Chek discussed the sad state of the fitness trainer biz in his talk at the SWIS shindig. I cracked up when he said the average gym member was training to be a “crane operator”—in other words, sitting down and moving levers on machines. Exactly what a crane operator does!

I completely agree with you that the trainers today are more into making money than training their clients properly. There is something to be said for general strength training, but I never have my clients use much more than a cable machine and only for a minimal number of lifts. even if the person is older I find that body weight exercises that teach balance and movement skills much more benifical than some machine.

As a Personal Trainer, I agree with you. Most trainers are basically salespeople with a title and out for a quick buck. Some of the trainers I’ve worked with disgust me. They take people through repetitive and uneffective programs that cater to their convenience. People like your mom (no disrespect) sign up for a training program because they believe he knows best. Some of these idiots think their level of knowledge is comparable with doctors. Giving out information on treatment of injury and prevention. I’ve said to some of these guys “You’re not a goddamn physical therapist! Be realistic on your level of knowledge.” Hmm, that sounded more like a rant.
I personally think I’m a damn good trainer, but I also have a degree in Ex Phys.(It might be no surprise to you that most trainers are degree-less) and will be starting PT school shortly. I just don’t bullshit people into thinking they can get specialist advice from me. I’ll be more than happy to give a referral. That’s why I’m going to PT school, to get out of this corrupt and godforsaken profession. Hope that helps (or makes you feel better).

The majority of my clientele have little or no experience with resistance training when they join the gym and hire me to train them. Many of them are very nervous and intimidated in our gym(especially my female clients). And like your mom, most of them are in their late 40’s up to 60 or so. My first objective with most clients is to simply acclimate them to the place and get them used to using the most simple stuff(machines). For some clients this does not take long and for others it may be weeks or longer. Good personal trainers are able to “read” their clients and assess their level of confidence, enthusiasm, and resilience in the gym. These are some of the intangibles that I feel personal trainers must be aware of in order to be most helpful to clients. Most new clients see the commercials and info-mercials for various fitness equipment and machines and they are duped into thinking that getting in shape is quick, easy, and painless. They see the fitness models perpetuating the idea that you can spot reduce bodyfat. So this is another topic that I discuss with clients prior to beginining a fitness program. Many clients have unrealistic expectations for themselves and think that this stuff is going to be easy. One other important lesson I’ve learned is not to try to compare the level that I take my fitness endeavors to with other people in the gym. You can’t expect your mom to be counting all of her calories, weighing her food, eating lots of extra protien, and deadlifting and squatting on the drop of a dime. Maybe some moms can do it, but if you try to train all of your clients on the same level to the same degree that you train yourself, you won’t last long as a personal trainer. At first I used to get frustrated that people that I trained weren’t as enthusiastic and committed as I was, but I’ve learned to be much more patient.

Excellent thoughts, Space! Boy… have we gotten into some interesting post in the past concerning “the marketing of fitness” and it’s influence on people’s Psyche! It’s about time for Bally’s to begin their media Blitz with some of the slickest and HOTTEST commercials around. And I’ll never forget how I was sitting one day watching “Jake’s” newest creation being sold on T.V., with a production that could put “Tomb Raider” to shame! I SERIOUSLY almost bought the thing AND I KNEW BETTER! It was THAT convincing of an informercial! The common themes? Easy…simple…no work at all…and you too could be a HOTTIE in less than 10 minutes a day! (The ironic twist is that without fail, I am almost 100% sure that the models in the infommercials get their look from a LOT of hard work in and out of the gym, and with a strict adherence to diet).


Question: Do you have many legal concerns when you train your clients?

Yes. There are a lot of legal concerns. Depending on the client, sometimes I have more concerns than I do with other clients. I’m especially concerned when I have clients who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bone or muscle injuries, or any sort of chronic medical condition. When you begin working with clients and they constantly refer to their injuries or ailments while you are training them then there are even more red flags and I’m more likely to really “play it safe with them”. I ask them how they feel and if they’re Ok after all their sets. Then I make notes on their workout logs as to how they’re feeling before during and after workouts. I’m very caustious and safe with clients, but you have some clients who really want to be pushed hard and you can tell that you can push them harder and be a little more “risky” with their program. I have one new client whom I taught to deadlift and squat the second week I was working with him. He works construction and is used to a lot of rigorous and laborious work. It all comes back to being able to read your clients. If you have clients who complain a lot and are very negative, be careful. If you have people who can take anything you throw at them, go full throttle as much as you can.