Why I Hated Personal Training

We’ve now passed the 30 day mark of the Fitness Challenge I’m doing and the past week has reminded me why I hated Personal Training.

The biggest thing to remember when starting a new workout routine, getting a gym membership, or working with a Nutritionist and/or a Personal Trainer, it’s not what you do for the hour you’re with them or at the gym, it’s the other 23 hours of your day that count.

I know it’s challenging and it’s easy to get distracted – especially at the moment with everything that’s going on! However, own up to it! When I started offering nutrition programs for my clients, some were amazing… they WANTED to change their lifestyle and they took my suggestions to heart. However, others wouldn’t own up to their decisions. I had a couple ladies come in and week after week, they’d show some progress then nothing – or they’d gain weight and inches. So I had them keep a diet diary and bring it with them at every training session. As they warmed up, I’d go through their food. After a couple weeks, I noticed a trend – they’d be really good during the week, but come the weekend, their entries had nothing.

First week was “I forgot”, or “we went out of town“… but then I recognized what they were saying “I don’t know why the scale isn’t budging – I’m doing everything you’re telling me“… oh really? I said the exact same thing to my trainer when I was getting ready for my second bodybuilding competition in 2006 – and I can tell ya, I was NOT doing everything he said and my diet was crap because I was SO done starving myself for months on end!!! So I questioned my clients a little more and eventually I got it out of them.

Every Friday, after work, “the girls” from the office would get together and and go out for drinks and appy’s. And quite often, Saturday night would be getting together with friends and more alcohol and poor food choices that often come with the booze. THIS is why they weren’t seeing success. THIS is why they did well all week until the weekend.

Honestly, it sucked. I always took it as I wasn’t a good P.T. If I was good at my job, everyone would be having success.

I CAN’T CONTROL WHAT THEY DO WITH THEIR TIME!!! I can instruct them for the hour that they have my undivided attention and I can answer questions if they email me, but I can’t hold their hand for every minute of their day.

For me, ultimately, I don’t want to have my clients forever. My goal is to equip them with the necessary tools to be able to make better decisions for themselves. If they have equipment at home, I’ll design programs for the days I don’t see them. I had one client who was quite overweight and no equipment so I told her to walk as much as she wanted – and I consider her one of my greater successes. She started looking at exercise differently and had less pain. She started making more healthful food choices. And she’s continued even though it’s been almost 7 years since I last saw her – and she’s taken other fitness classes.

However, the ones who weren’t as “successful” only worked out with me. The days they didn’t see me, they didn’t do anything physical.

“Success” or “failure” is entirely based on what you do on your own when no one is looking or telling you what to do.

And this is what I’m seeing with the fitness challenge. There’s been complaints about the trainers workouts – that they’re not challenging enough – and I know a couple people have dropped out because of this, but here’s the thing. It’s not “The Biggest Loser”. Our trainer isn’t there telling you what to do and what to eat all the time. She’s given all of us the same tools and direction and workouts and what we do with the workouts is entirely up to us. And here’s the other thing; past winners? I guarantee they were doing stuff on top of what the trainers gave them. Hell, even I’M doing over and above what she’s given us!

We all have goals – why else would we sign up for a fitness challenge? Just because her workouts will work for some people doesn’t mean they’ll work for all. You need to stop bitching about it, take what you want, leave the rest, and do what you want that will get you to your goals.

Yeah, if I entered the fitness challenge to win the cover, her program wouldn’t get me there! I know what it takes to get in the shape to even be considered – and this isn’t it! But her program shouldn’t be disregarded! There’s still plenty of mobility, form and function components that can be very beneficial! And, yes, a lot of her mobility I’ve done with a physiotherapist, but IT’S STILL BENEFICIAL!!! It’s not redundant because, in all honestly, I haven’t been keeping up the exercises since physio has been shut down! Keeping up mobility to, hopefully, ward off injury, is important! And some of the moves she does I simply can not do because of my knees. I’m certainly not going to do them because it’s “part of the program”! I’m going to modify them so I can do something similar, that is still challenging but doesn’t hurt.

So what am I doing “over and above” what’s given? For one, I’ve been cycling. This is out of “necessity” as well as health wise. Biking is easy on the knees which my physiotherapist prefers (as opposed to running) but it’s also my preferred mode of transportation in the summer. I didn’t do much last year because I was pretty out of shape and biking 30 km a day sucked. This year, my goal is to bike the majority of the summer. Yes, we have the luxury of Covid and I’m mostly working from home, but I’m starting to go into work a couple times a week now so I’ll be able to build up some endurance to bike both to and from work. The first year we were here (2 years ago) I would bike in one day, then bus home, then the next day bus into work, then bike home. This years goal is to bike to and from work on most days. Partially because I want to avoid transit because of Covid, an unlimited bus pass is $120 and it would be nice to save some money, and health reasons. Now, if I planned on doing this purely based on the program from the fitness challenge, I would fail. Yes, I’m getting results and there’s benefits from the program, but it would not get me to my goal. To reach my goal, I need to work on my endurance, cardiovascular health and conditioning my body by actually biking! Though, admittedly, my new office being almost 5km closer to home will be nice for August!!!

It would be the same if I was training for a race (running) – the only way to get ready for a race is to actually run – and run the distances you’re planning on doing for the race. When I was training for the TC10K back in 2016, I had a perfect 10k loop. Due to circumstances beyond my control (got a concussion 6 weeks before the race) I had to take a month off and only had 2 weeks to get ready for the race. I could only run about 7 km – I would do the 10k loop but walk parts of it. My goal for race day was to run the whole thing. And I did.

So here’s the thing about the fitness challenge. The cover contest is just an add on. It’s giving ordinary people an opportunity to land on one of the biggest fitness magazine covers. An opportunity most people would never get. They don’t HAVE to offer this – and after some shit in our group a few weeks ago, they’re considering removing that part of the challenge! So, if you have 700 people in the group and only 10% of the people stand a chance at winning the cover portion of the contest, that’s only 70 people. The trainers AREN’T going to cater to those 70 people. They’re going to cater to the 630 people who are looking at changing their lifestyle. Those are the ones who need to get moving. Who might be older. Who might be nursing injuries. Who might have more fat to lose. For those 70 people contending for the cover, their workouts are going to look MUCH different but those 70 people are likely already in the fitness industry as Personal Trainers and participate in physique competitions. Guess what? They’re already in shape. They already know how to take their body to the next level. Will they win the transformation portion of the fitness challenge? Probably not. It’s probably going to go to the person who lost 20+ lbs and double digit inches off their measurements!

And yet, those 70 people seem to be the ones complaining the loudest about the program.

You’re not paying for a Personal Trainer nor a Nutritionist. You’re paying the entry fee to a fitness challenge and that fitness challenge is going to cater to the masses. You don’t HAVE to do the program. You can do your own program. You can do the program AND your own workouts that are specific to your personal goals. STOP complaining that the program is too easy and not conducive to your goals. Her program maybe takes 30-40 minutes a day. I can guarantee that ANY winner of ANY sport does more than that a day. Do the fucking work and stop blaming the trainer. She doesn’t know your goals. Most women who join “fitness challenges” are looking to lose fat – and excess fat. Like they’re 30+% body fat, not below 20% and already look fucking amazing! These women (aka, the other 90% of the group) WILL benefit from HIIT workouts and the program as provided. And, yeah, they’ll even have more success if they add walking or hiking or biking daily – but that is up to them!

This is the danger of a “carbon copy” fitness program – or diet, for that matter! Everyone is different; bodies, physiologically, abilities, goals, likes, dislikes, etc. Not everyone is going to enjoy the program/diet. This is why I never created them. Yes, I can see some benefits to a workout like what we’ve been given, but seeing some of the comments is bringing back my frustrations from being a Personal Trainer.

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