Putting the fat Personal Trainer debate

“Hey we hired a trainer that was in shape, now you are full of clients, have some money and a life, you seem to be getting fat, you are fired!”

Apparently, this is not just a debate, but worse still, it seems to be the go-to fitness industry debate, which amazes me.

Here are some of the quotes, this topic that not many will approach and is edgy, has hundreds of thousands of posts and debates about it.

“This is certainly not a politically correct statement, but if you are a trainer, I believe you have a responsibility to be in shape. You should not only be a guide and resource of information to your clients, but you should also set a standard and inspire them.” (https://medium.com/@MindsetsAndReps/should-you-hire-a-fat-personal-trainer-c206b7af05a3)

“No matter what fitness looks like for you, being fit adds credibility. It is important when working with a client that they believe you are in shape because it will establish you as an expert to them. A trainer that is out of shape appears to be insincere or hypocritical, which won’t garner trust. You need to remember people tend to make instant decisions based on first impressions. You are a walking billboard for your business.” (http://www.infofit.ca/does-a-personal-trainer-need-to-be-fit/)

“Being fit, well-dressed and clean indicates a level of self-respect, self- sufficiency and seriousness about the field in which the individual is engaged. There is no denying this. And it is the worldview.” (http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/qaamp-do-you-feel-a-personal-trainer-must-look-the-part-in-order-to-be-successful)

This is a better answer and lets me explain why,

“Many roads lead to the same destination, and the best person to lead you there is someone who knows how to navigate as many of them as possible. An experienced trainer recognises your path to fitness is unique and challenging and provides you with the plan and motivation to help you succeed.” (https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/should-you-trust-a-personal-trainer-who-is-out-of-shape.html)

So when measuring a Personal Trainer, then weight and appearance should not be in the criteria for success.

The arguments for Personal Trainers getting into shape, or being in shape is often delivered by people who are not trainers, or from people who are insecure about themselves.

We still only penetrate 2-10% of a gym membership with Personal Training in Health Clubs, and that should be a sign that we might not be right about a lot of our marketing presumptions. Maybe real looking Personal Trainers are the answer?

Measuring a successful Personal Trainer comes down to three components in my experience and opinion –

1. How the trainer makes client’s feel
If a trainer makes a client feel motivated, happy, and like they are being given the service they wanted with the addition of attention and care; then the trainer is doing their job well. To do this then they need to be able to –
Deliver an experience
Select the right exercises short term, and allow them to build gradually long term
Know when to work their client harder and when to let them off a little
How to navigate around pain and injuries, and how to work with other professionals if required
Read research to ensure everything they deliver is needed, adding up to the result, or feeding into the experience

2. How the trainer makes other members of the gym feel
If a trainer is successful, then they will become famous inside their club, and a focal point for members. Great personal trainers improve client retention, and this benefits the club immensely. In fact, a great Personal Trainer will also help guide new trainers in the club, through the difficult times and then celebrate with them as they become successful too.

3. How successful and content the Personal Trainer feels
Ultimately a Personal Trainer can be measured by how content they are. Contentment means how much they love their job, how fulfilled they feel, how happy they are and how they feel they are progressing towards their goals (if they have/need any). It is only at this point that weight may be important, as it is at this point that being overweight can negatively affect confidence and self-efficacy.

It is often said (as you can see in the quotes) that a Personal Trainers body is a reflection of their product, knowledge levels and motivation levels. Their bodies are a reflection of their lifestyle, which is often negatively affected due to the demands of the job.

A Personal Trainer who spends time with their friends and family, reading up on science for their clients, takes courses to improve their product or to help more members, could be more relatable and valuable to a gym than one who eats perfect and trains, ahead of self-development and helping others.

What this discussion does do is allow me to come up with bad analogies for measuring a Personal Trainer on their looks.

News from other Industries – “Lewis Hamilton fired by Mercedes and replaced by Usain Bolt because he is faster.” “Dog taken to shelter because it is terrible at stroking and throwing sticks.” “Knife rejected by IKEA for being in one piece.”