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The Stereotypical Personal Trainer

This isn’t meant to be a trainer bashing thread. Just curious to see how folks here view personal trainers.

So, what do you think?

What is the stereotypical personal trainer? How would you describe him? What does he look like? How does he act? What is his personality like? How do other people see him vs. how he sees himself? And anything else you might like to add.

[quote]mike_b wrote:
This isn’t meant to be a trainer bashing thread. Just curious to see how folks here view personal trainers.

So, what do you think?

What is the stereotypical personal trainer? How would you describe him? What does he look like? How does he act? What is his personality like? How do other people see him vs. how he sees himself? And anything else you might like to add.[/quote]

That has changed over the years. When I first started getting serious, and even when I got certified as one, the image was geared towards people who looked like they could soon compete in a bodybuilding contest. I remember going into 24 Hour Fitness in the mid-90’s in Texas and half of the trainers were huge. A few competed and that was how they got their business. Towards the late-90’s, all of a sudden every gym was hiring people who looked like they didn’t even lift weights to be personal trainers. My guess is, this made fat or skinny-fat people less intimidated. This is also why gyms are now filled with so many people who either fart around not being very serious, or those who think heavy weights are bad.

I wouldn’t ask most personal trainers today for a spot on an exercise, let alone any deep advice about lifting. I think someone who never lifted before and never saw the inside of a gym may benefit from having one. My mom finally started training last year and got a personal trainer. She is staying motivated. I’m not a 130lbs woman though so I see no use for most of them for anyone past beginner stage.

When it comes to professional athletes and those who rain them, the roles are clearly different. They have more training and knowledge about their clients and their goals. However, I still would avoid getting much advice from someone who looked like they didn’t lift seriously. I can do my own research on theory. Any advice I am usually looking for has to do with thoughts about food intake.

What’s important is how you view yourself MikeB, or else you’ll never be happy.

[quote]apayne wrote:
What’s important is how you view yourself MikeB, or else you’ll never be happy.[/quote]

lol

Thanks! That sure is a thread killer. lol

Seriously, no hate intended here. I’m trying to do some character research to make sure I’m on the mark.

How I view myself would be a whole other, far less interesting topic. lol

Just curious, Prof. X, how do you explain Eric Cressey with your theory that anyone under 200 lbs. needs to eat more and get bigger or else they couldn’t have much to add to your experience/ knowledge? He was also a trainer for some time (technically still is although now he’s refered to as a strength coach). With your apparent attitude towards “guys who don’t even look like they lift” you could probably have been in the same gym as him and snubbed him because he’s only 160 some odd pounds. Sounds a little to much like judging a book by it’s cover…

And yes, I’m under 200 lbs. myself. For my chosen sporting activity extra mass is definitely not an advantage so the 175-180 lb. range works best for me. Of course, I can pull over 2X my bodyweight…

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Towards the late-90’s, all of a sudden every gym was hiring people who looked like they didn’t even lift weights to be personal trainers. My guess is, this made fat or skinny-fat people less intimidated. This is also why gyms are now filled with so many people who either fart around not being very serious, or those who think heavy weights are bad.

.[/quote]

What a sad, sad reality. You would think that muscular, healthy looking people would be motivating rather than intimidating to fat/skinny/otherwise out of shape people.

I’m only 22, so as far back as I can remember, the personal trainers have always been these twenty-something preppy white guys with a muscular, yet lacking-in-size frame. Most clients of these trainers are obviuosly first-timers who have likely never set foot in a gym (and probably won’t last one week in the gym judging from experience). Anyone with any lifting experience usually won’t even acknowledge their presence.

I always kind of felt like they were there mostly to try and hit on the gym bunnies. A noble cause, but some women do actually go to a gym to train, and not be hit on by men. All in all, my impression is pretty negative. I just don’t feel like the trainers today have anything to offer. No special knowledge, no helpful training advice, possibly even harmful training advice. I’m sure there are good ones out there, just speaking in general.

  • TF

[quote]bikejames wrote:
Just curious, Prof. X, how do you explain Eric Cressey with your theory that anyone under 200 lbs. needs to eat more and get bigger or else they couldn’t have much to add to your experience/ knowledge? He was also a trainer for some time (technically still is although now he’s refered to as a strength coach). With your apparent attitude towards “guys who don’t even look like they lift” you could probably have been in the same gym as him and snubbed him because he’s only 160 some odd pounds. Sounds a little to much like judging a book by it’s cover.[/quote]

I have never seen Cressey and have no opinion at all about the man. I can tell you from experience that I personally wouldn’t run to someone who weighed nearly 100lbs less than me to get advice on how to add an inch to my arms. I am not a training idiot myself so if I ever did go to a professional, it would be in terms of getting my diet together for competition. I would look to someone who has either dieted for competition and/or worked with many athletes who have.

I don’t need the advice of another personal trainer that much smaller than me as far as my own goals in bodybuilding unless his usual client pool involves guys my size and bigger. Did you think that everyone needs the advice of Cressey? Why pick him out personally instead of remaining with general terms?

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I have never seen Cressey and have no opinion at all about the man. I can tell you from experience that I personally wouldn’t run to someone who weighed nearly 100lbs less than me to get advice on how to add an inch to my arms. I am not a training idiot myself so if I ever did go to a professional, it would be in terms of getting my diet together for competition. I would look to someone who has either dieted for competition and/or worked with many athletes who have.

I don’t need the advice of another personal trainer that much smaller than me as far as my own goals in bodybuilding unless his usual client pool involves guys my size and bigger. Did you think that everyone needs the advice of Cressey? Why pick him out personally instead of remaining with general terms?[/quote]

I just picked him out because he is the best example I can think of for my point. He is relatively small yet obviously knows his stuff. I just don’t think that you can look at someone and judge their knowledge base or ability to help you add size/ strength etc.

And yes, I think anyone could benefit from someone who obviously knows so much about deadlifting, benching and squatting. Most will never get huge without mastering those lifts so even if your goal is size over strength some time with him perfecting those lifts would probably benefit anyone.

Again, it just seems narrow minded to me to automatically write off what someone has to offer based on their size. We all know that there are some massive idiots out there as well as some pretty smart “smaller guys” (of course most people in gyms are morons regardless of size). Hell, Mel Siff wasn’t a huge guy by any stretch of the imagination (some might say he hardly looked like he worked out) but he’s one of the most influential and quoted authors in the iron game. Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.

[quote]bikejames wrote:
Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.
[/quote]

It matters if you’re training for size.

JMB

[quote]bikejames wrote:
I just picked him out because he is the best example I can think of for my point. He is relatively small yet obviously knows his stuff. I just don’t think that you can look at someone and judge their knowledge base or ability to help you add size/ strength etc.

And yes, I think anyone could benefit from someone who obviously knows so much about deadlifting, benching and squatting. Most will never get huge without mastering those lifts so even if your goal is size over strength some time with him perfecting those lifts would probably benefit anyone.

Again, it just seems narrow minded to me to automatically write off what someone has to offer based on their size. We all know that there are some massive idiots out there as well as some pretty smart “smaller guys” (of course most people in gyms are morons regardless of size). Hell, Mel Siff wasn’t a huge guy by any stretch of the imagination (some might say he hardly looked like he worked out) but he’s one of the most influential and quoted authors in the iron game. Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.
[/quote]

You are entitled to your opinion. However, I think you will find that if a bodybuilder has built himself up to the level of a possible light-heavy or heavy weight, he generally won’t go to someone that much smaller than he is for advice on bodybuilding. You are confusing pure strength training for development training. I could care less about ever squatting over 650lbs. That is not a goal of mine. What is a goal is legs 30+" each in circumference. I have a goal of strength, but it is directly related to my bodybuilding goals. I work for both.

There are some aspects of training that are apparent only at a certain size. For instance, the range of motion for my chest training is different now than it was when I first started. Why? Because I feel it in my chest more if I stop the weight about an inch above chest level. This provides a slight stretch in my pecs. Any lower than this and my shoulders feel stressed more than my chest. This technique has worked for me so it would be a little counter-productive for someone who doesn’t understand what I feel in that movement to recommend I change that based on their own understanding of training alone.

There are simply some things that are learned better by experiencing them, regardless of known theory. Range of motion as it relates to drastically different body sizes may very well be one of them. That is one very strong reason why I wouldn’t run to someone that much smaller than me for advice in that area…especially since I don’t see my progress as anything short of working for me in terms of strength and growth.

You have already stated that you really have no desire to be above 175lbs. I passed that up within my first year of training. I don’t understand what you think I am missing.

[quote]bikejames wrote:

Again, it just seems narrow minded to me to automatically write off what someone has to offer based on their size. We all know that there are some massive idiots out there as well as some pretty smart “smaller guys” (of course most people in gyms are morons regardless of size). Hell, Mel Siff wasn’t a huge guy by any stretch of the imagination (some might say he hardly looked like he worked out) but he’s one of the most influential and quoted authors in the iron game. Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.
[/quote]

Sure. Big difference between someone who is smaller because of lack of knowledge or lack of discipline in terms of training and diet and someone who is smaller because they choose to focus on strength and athleticism and couldn’t care less about size past a certain point. But when looking to gain size or even strength it just seems logical to turn to someone who is fairly big.

UNLESS they demonstrate advanced knowledge and Eric Cressy clearly has. But just going into a gym, it seems that a bigger trainer would know more than a smaller trainer. Though this is not necessarily the case. (both may be fairly ignorant or knowledgable)

[quote]JMB wrote:
bikejames wrote:
Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.

It matters if you’re training for size.

JMB

[/quote]

Yes. But because a smaller trainer chooses to focus on strength over size for themselves, it does not mean they don’t know how to put significant size on someone if that is their goal.

I’d rather take the training advice of a 180 pound muscular, ripped guy than a 220 pound guy who’s only bigger because he’s carrying around 45 pounds of extra fat. There’s a lot of fat guys out there who get off on being ‘bigger’ than others.

In regards to what’s being written above, height and frame size are being forgotten. Weight must be addressed with regards to height and frame size. I only weigh 175 at 5’-10", and I have a damn small frame. I’m not huge by any means, but for my frame size, I look big (bigger than I really am).

The personal trainers at my gym are stick boys. They run around with their clients on the machines and do silly things on giant beach balls. Last night one of the personal trainers (who is not a stick boy) was doing push presses. I commented to him that he’s the first personal trainer that I’ve ever seen doing a real exercise. He responded that he’s not a personal trainer, he’s a strength coach. So there’s hope.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
JMB wrote:
bikejames wrote:
Anyways, I think I made my point. Training is one of those areas where size doesn’t necessarily matter.

It matters if you’re training for size.

JMB

Yes. But because a smaller trainer chooses to focus on strength over size for themselves, it does not mean they don’t know how to put significant size on someone if that is their goal.

[/quote]

I think you will find this to not be the case in most circumstances. Can it happen? Yes. Is it likely that the guy weighing 160lbs knows what is best for the guy who weighs 240lbs and wants to keep gaining?..not usually.

I used a trainer once who was a competitive power lifter, who helped me a lot with my bench, squat and deadlift. Most of the others at that YMCA just pointed their clients to the machines.

The trainers at the Gold’s Gym I go to now put a lot of emphasis on the Swiss ball. There is one big trainer there, but I’ve watched him workout a few times and his program didn’t impress me. He has his clients lunging all over the gym. He also bragged to a buddy if mine that he had trained special forces in Australia, but when my friend (who had been stationed there for a couple of years) started asking him more about it he hemmed and hawed and rapidly changed the subject.

My stereotype would be one that is in decent aerobic shape, somewhat muscular (but not big or strong). Their training emphasis would be on aerobics, core exercises, and machine weights. Their diet advice would tend toward adding protein and eating several small meals a day.

I think part of the issue here is assuming that ProfX needs anyone to tell him how to achieve his goals.

He isn’t someone that is sitting around wondering how oh how to go about adding a few pounds to his frame.

That being said, I’m sure Cressey knows his stuff. The two viewpoints aren’t mutually exclusive.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
Yes. But because a smaller trainer chooses to focus on strength over size for themselves, it does not mean they don’t know how to put significant size on someone if that is their goal.

[/quote]

You’re right, but I wouldn’t blame a bodybuilder seeking advice for trusting a trainer whose physique exemplifies the bodybuilder’s own goal over a trainer who has to say ‘take my work for it.’

JMB

[quote]Dave2 wrote:
I’d rather take the training advice of a 180 pound muscular, ripped guy than a 220 pound guy who’s only bigger because he’s carrying around 45 pounds of extra fat. There’s a lot of fat guys out there who get off on being ‘bigger’ than others.
[/quote]

Sure, and I’d rather take the advice of someone who’s 220 lbs ripped than someone who’s 180 lbs ripped. What’s your point?

JMB

[quote]Dave2 wrote:
I’d rather take the training advice of a 180 pound muscular, ripped guy than a 220 pound guy who’s only bigger because he’s carrying around 45 pounds of extra fat. There’s a lot of fat guys out there who get off on being ‘bigger’ than others.
[/quote]

I don’t think anyone here is talking about taking advice from obese people simply because they weigh more. I’m not quite sure why you felt that even needed to be stated. If two different people of different weights both have the apparent same amount of lean body mass, then one is not more muscular than the other are they? That is no revelation but thanks for chiming in.