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Personal Trainers aren't Fitness Magicians

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Personal Trainers aren't Fitness Magicians

 Having been a personal trainer now for 13 years I can look back at my career and see what people have been looking for in a fitness routine and how it has changed. But as the national obesity issue has gotten bigger and more complex the way people look at a personal trainer has changed as well, and not for the better. 

 Now more often than not, people are looking for a program that helps them look a certain way; not how they feel or perform they're daily life tasks. Weight loss and/or weight management has become the thing to look for. As we've all seen shows like the Biggest Loser have contestants lose massive amounts of weight we think "Why not me?" Well first off, they're in the gym for hours a day, have registered dietician approved foods in the house, and not much else to worry about in the timeline of the show.

Obviously that differs from your average Jane or Joe who has work, kids to chase, and any number of other daily tasks that compound life.  But there are inherent problems with the focus on the physical form through fitness. First, ask a bodybuilder and most will tell you that how you look is largely a function of how, when, and what you eat (and less an issue of how and when you train). Secondly, a major part of how, when, and what you eat is a function of your genetic and emotional construct. These variables aren’t really addressed in the gym.

While fitness can equal functionally capable and physically proficient body, it does not necessarily equal a slim, toned, or shredded body. Losing weight may simply be a question of calories—keeping it off is a question of deeply personal issues, both scientific and emotional. In short, success in the arena of weight management requires a personal approach that addresses a mixture of physiology, nutrition, environment, and in large part, psychology.

This fact presents an obvious disconnect in the common approach to the fitness goals of weight loss and achieving the body you’ve always desired. In the same way you wouldn’t go to a math teacher to learn English, you shouldn’t necessarily go to a trainer to address issues that are deeply intimate and intrinsic. Likely, your trainer is not a miracle worker, shrink, healer, nor the any of the following:

  • Your trainer is not a doctor.
  • Your trainer is not a registered dietician.
  • Your trainer is not a psychologist.
  • Your trainer is not a physical or emotional therapist.
  • Your trainer is not a weight loss specialist.
  • Your trainer is not a “health” coach, whatever that means.
Hiring a trainer might not help you from being fat, but that said, a good trainer can help you get really fit. Optimally and hopefully, all trainers have studied (or at least passed a test on) exercise physiology, anatomy, exercise science, and biomechanics. The best coaches are also learned in behavioral science and the art of communication. That means your trainer should be adept at teaching, coaching, and communicating to you ways in which your body can move more economically and efficiently. Simply put, the right trainer will help you to:

  • Increase flexibility
  • Build endurance
  • Maximize strength
  • Optimize physical functionality
  • Develop a physical skill set/craft such as Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, etc.
  • Improve health
You will notice that missing from the list are issues of a personal nature, like getting the body you’ve always coveted.

Joining a gym, starting an exercise regimen, and hiring a trainer are noble pursuits and there are many valid reasons to do so. However, while enlisting in the help of a trainer may be a great personal investment, doing so won’t necessarily solve your personal problems. Hiring a trainer might help you get faster or stronger, but likely won't magically melt inches off your waistline, cure your issues with food cravings, or help save your marriage for that matter. When it comes to the "personal" part of your goals and desires, ultimately, you are your own best personal trainer.

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