Sunday, August 26, 2012

When is a trainer not a trainer?

So I network with a lot of trainers and for that matter I've been rather fortunate to have become friends (online or in real life) with some truly great, successful, well known and even famous trainers around the world who I've had the opportunity to learn from. It's really great to have other people who are just as passionate as you are, to share advice, tips, motivation and encouragement with.

I'll tell you something though... you really do have to learn how to sort the wheat from the chaff. I think I've written before about how much I usually prefer just talking fitness with what you might call "successful enthusiasts" rather than industry professionals... the people I'm referring to above would be exceptions to these rules, the people who are actually knowledgeable, but also have understanding. Understanding means more than just being able to quote so called "facts" from selected articles or studies that support their chosen agenda. People with true understanding know that there are many approaches that can be taken in pursuit of a goal.

Which is not to say that any approach is as good as any other. Lots of people out there are trying to force a square peg into a round hole, with nutritional habits that don't support their training routine, or a training routine that isn't suited to their goal. For that matter some trainers are guilty of pushing these inappropriate methods as well. My point though would be that one who has knowledge AND understanding would realise that what is required for a body builder to reach competition level is not the same as what is required for an obese person to lose 20 kilos. The best approach is the one that stands the best chance of success, and simplicity and ease of compliance is a big part of this.

So you've got actually competent trainers, knowledgeable trainers who may have unrealistic expectations / poor understanding of what their clients actually require, and then you have your run of the mill well-intentioned trainer who has been let down by the industry and not actually learned how to deliver results while pursuing their qualification. There's LOTS of those, unfortunately.

You know what else there's a lot of? Trainers who aren't actually trainers. There's an absolute abundance of these, too!

I'm talking about these self branded "fitness industry leaders" who don't seem to have any interest in actually training anyone. Rather, they'll all about marketing systems, pushing supplements and other products through multilevel marketing schemes, hiring a bunch of inexperienced young trainers on poverty level wages and farming clients out to them... anything other than actually training a client in the gym themselves. These will be a lot of the same guys pushing these bullshit "miracle fat burning formulas" as well. You know, the ones with the "before" picture taken at the end of a weight gain cycle, bloated and full of water... and then the "after pic" when they're lean and carb depleted again. Often the "after" photos are actually taken first! This is a known tactic, I didn't just make it up.

So these guys bother me for a couple of reasons. One being that when I first got qualified and built my website, the constant phone calls trying to sell me their ethically questionable marketing schemes. After about 2 years they seemed to finally get the message and stop calling me. I remember I actually started telling them "i'm not in the industry any more, I have gone back to property management". So... if your sales tactic is unsolicited phone calls hounding people about buying your marketing system... that sort of thing pisses me the hell off, so it's not something I want to learn how to do so I can have other people pissed off at me, right?

The other issue I have is that PT is turning into something more like what a certain network marketing product line is. You know the one I mean. Now those actually have a reputation of being really good products, but it seems like no one's actually interested in selling them, because the money is in being a distributor and having a bunch of people below you doing the selling. PT is becoming a bit like that, except without the high quality of products. It's becoming too many people who aren't actually trainers, just trying to make a fast buck with their marketing skills.

Now there's always an exception to the rule and I'm lucky enough to have a business coach who is actually legit, wants to help people, and only uses ethical means to reach the right clients. Rather than trying to sell to anyone and everyone, without actually being concerned with delivering results. It's enough just to "get people active", right? Bah!

So those are my complaints but let's finish on a positive note with what I'd actually like to see happen in the industry, which all of the Actual Trainers I network with agree on.

  1. Qualifications that actually mean something. 
    By the time you are qualified as a trainer you should actually have the skills, knowledge and understanding to help clients achieve their weight loss and body composition goals, rather than just being taught to "get people moving".
  2. Ethical Marketing Systems
    Just like some of the ridiculous products on TV, there's a huge market of people who aren't actually looking for something that will work. I'd like to see ALL trainers pushing only the true facts about what's required to lose weight and/or get into shape, rather than sensationalist approaches about "secret formulas" or whatever other garbage.