T Nation

Trainer looking for the truth

I am a personal trainer at the local gym in town. Now before you go talking shit, I am not one of these sissy trainers(or I would not be on this site). I am an exersice science major and I have read my share of books from Poliquin, Tsatsouline, Hatfield, etc. and I frequent this site just about every day. So I feel I know a litte something about exercise. Having said all that let me get to my concerns.

It is truly amazing how many people in the gym do not know the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground when it comes to training. I am not talking about those catabolic people who do circuit training and then rub their ass raw on a bike for an hour, I am talking about guys who are actually built. And what really pisses me off is that guys who know even less than the built guys are asking them for advice, what the hell?! It really concerns me because bad information is just circulating through out the gym. So how do I go about fixing this problem? Should I just interrupt these idiots or should I wait until they are gone and pull the guy to the side or what? I am fairly young(21)that could be problem, but I know that I built well enough to back up my knowledge. I guess I should be more aggresive with newbies, but I am just looking for a way to get people to listen to me so I can get the truth across.
Thanks, Cory

I’ll tell you, Cory- you must be my long lost twin, because our situations seem almost identical. I’m 20, a personal trainer, and a college student double majoring in exercise science and sports management. I agree that lately the term personal trainer connotes spandex-wearing, food guide pyramid-preaching, tofu-devouring retards. Because there are a ton of misinformed trainers out there, those of us who actually have a clue of what is right and wrong are often ignored. Personally, I’m still not as big as I want to be (and will be, in time), but I have been able to add 53 pounds naturally in 19 months, and I think that speaks for itself. However, I’m still not the biggest guy in the gym, so most people don’t really look to me for advice unless they’ve known me since I was scrawny. I really used to let this bug me, but then I read a posting in the T-Mag reader mail a few weeks ago that really put things in perspective. A frustrated trainer wrote to ask how to deal with clients who were resistant to change (i.e. saying squats are bad for the knees and high-protein diets are bad for the kidneys). The response was that these were the kind of clients that you don’t want. If they don’t want your help, it’s their loss. Let them ask the idiot with good genetics, fast-food diet, and pea-sized brain for advice, and see where it takes them. Personally, I’d like to earn the reputation of a “no screwing around” trainer who gets results: period. Granted, this philosophy has to be tailored to various clients’ needs (70 year-old women vs. 25 year-old males on the juice) I know it might cost me a few clients in the long run, but I’ll earn a hell of a lot more respect and public relations because of it. Plus, there are only so many hours in the day; I’d rather spend them training dedicated and open-minded clients anyway. Overall, I say ignore the morons. Let them run their mouths; they’ll probably be fat in a few years anyway. Just focus on yourself and your clients, and everything else will fall into place. I commend you for going beyond your education by reading T-Mag and working as a trainer. It seems like our colleges are simply breeding more idiots (at least at my school), because most of the exercise science majors are nothing like me. They’re fat, they eat poorly, and can’t even train themselves properly, let alone other. It’s a sad commentary on the future of the American fitness industry, but I know that trainers like you and I will not become a part of that trend. All the best.

I agree with booth of you. I am also 20 years old. Currently pursuing two degrees, which are Exercise Science and Chemistry. I ‘m also a Student Assistant Strength Coach for the University I am attending and a personal trainer (ISSA certified). Now I ‘m not the smallest guy in the gym nor am I the biggest, but what advise I do give, I can back it up both physical and intellectually (this is the first time I gave advice to a non client or athlete). Now two the topic at hand yesterday I watched in horror this rather small man do very dangerous leg presses, he was pushing on his knees with his hands during the descent part, locking out very hard and fast (he wont be training long). I walked over too him and told him not to lock out his knees because of the dangers involved with that practice. Today I saw him doing the exact same thing. So disgusted was I, I left the gym and finished my workout at school. Now to the topic teachers: I used to have a very knowledgeable and experienced teacher, throw he is old fashion and you can barely understand him. His name was Mr. Zatsiorsky. He knows more about training then any person whom I had the privilege to meet. Most of my teachers were like the one you have Eric. Boring and UN knowledgeable about present weight training and supplementation. Thank god for T-Mag!!!

You’re pretty lucky in my opinion. You get used to all the bad form and stupid ideas people have. Just wait until one of these jackasses comes over and tells you how to lift.

About two weeks ago I had a guy come over and tell me that I needed to put the bar higher on my back, and “get it up onto my neck.” Hmmm…funny how experienced lifters who helped me with my form thought my bar placement was good.

Cory, you’ll never win over the guys who have been lifting for over 5 years unless you are juicing to the gills (most guys think because they are big, they know what to do). I have been at this for over 25 years and I land clients on my no nonsense training. I pay attetion to whatever client I am training at the time. I have always landed more clients because I am just doing my “job” and not trash talking anyone. If my clients ask about why someone is doing something I tell them. I am always confronted by people who want to train with me (but most either can’t afford it or I can’t fit them into my schedule) and their response is always the same. “I don’t flirt with the girls, I pay attention to my clients, and my clients are getting results.” I have found that if you tell most young guys or most older guys who are somewhat built that they are doing something wrong, you will always lose. I suggest you ignore it and just do your workout or train your clients. You will be surprised by how many people will approach you by just being humble. One person who responded to this post was bragging about putting on a substantial amount of weight like that made him a better trainer. I will tell you that the trainer who is a hard gainer is the better trainer. I started off at 135lbs at 16 and 5’7", now I am 180 at 41 and still 5’7". But, I have taken more clients away from the guys who were 200+ because I earned every pound by having to try every way possible to coax my body into growing. If you want to be a successful trainer: do your job, be humble, be friendly, smile, and read…read…read, and go to at least two seminars per year with top experts like Polquin, Staley, King and Tate. Good Luck.

Eric, just so you know, I meant no offense as to your success. I think that gaining that much muscle is amazing. I have had cients lose 100lbs of fat (44% to 20%) in one year, or gain 25lbs of muscle and lose 15lbs of fat in eight months at a measly 150lbs of bodyweight. My training partners always got bigger than me doing my routine and eating shitty diets. I just meant that having lousy genetics and still going for it as I have usually helps the average person. I think you have great genetics. Most people could not gain that much muscle not matter how hard they trained or how good they ate. I commend you on your accomplishments.

As odd as it might seem, I have terrible genetics. My mother is only 5" tall, and my father is obese, diabetic, sedentary- in fact, he has ALL seven ACSM risk factors. Both have poor diets and only my mother exercise, so I never learned how to eat or train properly. As such, I was overweight (yet athletic) until I was 18. Then, I got sick of it and decided to lose weight, but I did it the wrong way. In fact, I dropped from 180 to 97 lbs. in only seven months, screwed up my liver, my mind, and could very well have died. I ate an extremely hypocaloric diet, and lifting weights and did cardio everyday (all while competing in high school sports and other extracurricular activities, and applying for college). When I look back, it was amazing that I didn’t die, and I thank God everyday. I try to look at the hurdles I’ve overcome in a positive light. I realize the importance of environment in anyone’s physical development. Also, because I was not allowed by doctors to go to the gym for several months, I have gained a true appreciation for the privilege of training. Lastly, I’ve gotten a career out of it, as I hope to help others avoid the same mistakes that plagued me. I’m still under 150 lbs, but I have faith that perseverance, true passion, and continuous learning will enable me to get where I’m going. Great genetics had nothing to do with my gains, but a ton of heart did. Thank you for your congratulations.

Well, who would you listen to yourself?

The professional
(doctor, lawyer, architect, or any expert)
that you decided to go consult with and paid money for his or her advice? Or someone – who may in fact be an equally qualified licensed professional, but you didn’t go looking for him – who walks up to you unexpectedly and gives you unsolicited criticism about what you’re doing wrong and advice you weren’t looking for?

I understand that in the early phases of
having expert knowledge, there’s a desire
to try to share it with people all over the
place but it’s not the thing to do. Most people WILL NOT take good advice or recognize it when it’s given to them unsolicited. You’re far better off not even beginning to imagine you ought to be sharing advice with them. What they are doing wrong is their problem, and until they themselves choose seek your advice, it’s neither your responsibility, a good idea,
or even your place to give it.

A professional does not toss out his knowledge
all over the place to those who aren’t even asking for it and in fact don’t even want it.

That’s the biggest part of the problem here.

Cory: I just wanted to add a small observation to what Bill said. In my experience, people are not seeking what is the “best” advice, but are searching around for justification of a course that they decided long before to take.


In an example that we often site on the Forum, many people already have ingrained in their mind that high carb/low protein and fat dieting coupled with endless sets of light weight bunny exercises and aerobics is the way to reach one’s physiques goals. Tell them to do some squatting, forget the bagels and soy, and do some interval training for fat loss? You’ll be showed the door quicker than you can say “I just wanna’ tone…”


So…be a good, professional example…create some good “word of mouth” by the clients you train…and as Bill said…people WILL then come to you for advice…

How many other lifters in the gym would you actually listen to if they came up and gave you advice?

I agree with you 100% most people are looking for justification. :slight_smile:

Keago