A Trainer’s Take
Posted on 01/31/2012 at 03:58 AM to Reality Check
Hey Fit Fem’rs!!! I’ve got an awesome guest blog post for you today! I want you to give Rita some love, she is a personal trainer and nutritionist who has a lot to say and knows what she’s talking about. Here’s a snapshot of the trainer’s perspective on how to find the perfect trainer for you. But first a bio ... Rita Ziade-Youssef has been a certified personal trainer since 1999.She has worked in many gyms in the Brooklyn and New York City area. She owned her own business, BodyFit Personal Training, from 2004-2011. She is certified as the following:
- Personal Trainer
- Advanced Personal Trainer
- Kickboxing Instructor
- Focus Pad Training Instructor
- Pilates Instructor
- Circuit Training Instuctor
- Yoga Instructor
After being a fan of my good friend Syl’s blog, I realized that there is not very much information about what trainer’s day-to-day like is like. Perhaps it seems pompous, but understanding the logic behind some of the differences one trainer can have to another can really help the trainee a lot.
Almost as though I am starting a disclaimer, I would like to point out that I am speaking for myself, as a certified trainer/nutritionist since the beginning of 2002. I do not claim to speak for all trainers, especially since my career as a trainer has been varied – in both good and bad ways.
I became certified shortly after I finished rehab for a knee injury. Suddenly invigorated by the way working out made me feel, I saw it as less of an issue of vanity, and also, not even necessarily the desire for a “healthy lifestyle.” I was actually more interested in what the body could take on, even after the stresses of an injury. I had never felt better. Not only was I suddenly feeling no pain (which I credited for a short while to surgery, though it wasn’t the actual reason), but I was amazed by the way a simple injury, or a tense day, could almost shut a body down. I learned how to push my body without constantly reinjuring myself. If I was stressed and bogged down by the general intensities of life, working out helped me to relax.
So I had an opportunity to work at numerous gyms before I was able to open my own. I felt as though I wanted to get out of the “salesman” mentality and focus on being one trainer - with one client at a time. My facility allowed for only appointments as sessions, with privacy as a major selling point. I knew all there was to know about a client. Sometimes, far too personal, I became a part of their lives as much as they became a part of mine. I didn’t have to compete with other trainers and sell my skills. If they liked me, and saw results, they stayed. If not, they left. After owning my business for almost seven years, I walked away with a whole new mindset on working out and perhaps why people struggle so much to succeed. I walked away with amazing relationships that I will forever cherish. In fact, I think I had more people at my wedding that were former clients than friends I met in school, and whatnot.
So, here’s my 2 cents about the scene. I can go in more detail in the future, but as a response to finding and hiring the best trainer, I wanted to give my point of view, and hopefully some helpful hints.
1)Being a personal trainer is being a salesman. I always hated this aspect of the job. Sure, I can talk up my game and say how great I am and what I have achieved with former clients. But unfortunately, I also had to swat away those trainers who felt threatened, and their rumors. I am not much of a shit-talker. I think there’s room for all of us, but trainers in general do not make a lot of money at your typical gyms. Some get paid a minimum hourly salary and can only make money to pay the rent by literally selling themselves. So when it comes to people and their money – all bets are off. They’ll tear other trainers apart and beef up their resume.
2)One trainer may be great for one person, but not for you. Nothing infuriated me more than people who had bad experiences with their former trainers. It may not have been because that trainer wasn’t good. But literally the “personal” aspect of training went out the window. They had cookie cutter workouts that they would use for all of their clients and sometimes they didn’t ask, or necessarily care, about the trainee’s life/body. It’s not necessary for the trainer to know the ins and outs of everyday of your life, but if they’re not at least curious to know why you feel a certain way, on a certain day, for a specific reason, then something is wrong. Besides having a thorough understanding of your medical past and not just making you sign a waiver to release them of any liability, they should be interested in why you need/want a trainer in the first place. People have worked out alone since working out became a thing to do. But why are you seeking a trainer? What has stopped you from reaching your goals on your own? And what are you doing outside of the gym that is affecting your workouts and progress?
3)Being sore isn’t necessarily the sign of how talented a trainer is.Some trainers thrive on making a client sore. Yes, moving muscles that one doesn’t normally move and is generally in a sedentary state is normal. Should you not be able to walk for 4 days? Absolutely not. Working out can result in lactic acid build-up, and the slight tearing of muscles, as they rebuild stronger. But clients were always fascinated when I would do a weekly or monthly weigh-in and see results, when they weren’t constantly weeping in pain or vomiting after each work out. Any trainer can go in and make you hurt. Too much weight, too many reps, whatever it is they do to flex their proverbial muscles is not the way the job gets done. Not only does it scare clients away, and hinder their progress – it makes them assume that exercising is always supposed to be a painful process which couldn’t be further from the truth.
4)Training men and women should not be the same. A lot of trainers tend to train both sexes the same way. Again this goes back to the cookie-cutter workout. Why would I want the same work-out, as 30 year old woman, as a 30 year old man? I don’t want to be bigger, so why I am lifting so much weight? I want better endurance, but why am I not doing more cardio? It’s important that the trainer understands what their clients want, and tailor their sessions with you accordingly. As far as we have come with the women’s movement and all, I had few female clients who wanted to bulk up and few male clients who wanted to be thin and lean.
5)Being friendly with your trainer isn’t always the best thing. Though I cared for many of my clients in different ways, being friends prior to the trainer/trainee relationship made things challenging, I’m sure, for both of us. Sometimes constantly correcting a person can be frustrating for the trainee, and it can become awkward. And even though I believe it’s ok to have friendly conversation during a session, it can be distracting to the workout, for both people. Also, as being the trainer, and having certain price settings, it can be awkward for both involved. Trainee wants a good deal, and the trainer may need to charge the same amount as every other client because it’s how they make their living. So instead of haggling with a friend, have them recommend someone, or a certain path they can take, that doesn’t involve them underestimating your job as the trainer, while at the same time not having to defend oneself, or sympathize with the trainee’s dilemma in wanting to get the most for their dollar. Severing that gym-romance can make things very awkward in the future and it’s ultimately not worth risking the friendship.
6)Trainers don’t know everything. It’s really nice to think that the trainer is the be-all-end-all in the fitness world, but it’s just not the case. A lot of trainers have a basic knowledge of the body and to be honest, getting certified is pretty easy. They are not your doctors. Unless they are certified nutritionists, dieticians, etc, they should not be creating a diet for you. Sure, suggestions are fine. Discussing how one thing may be better than another is great, but by no means should you assume a trainer knows all there is to know. Even about working out. If you have an injury, do not assume your trainer is a physical therapist. This is a recipe for a re-injury and possible long-term damage.
So my basic point to all of this is to go with your gut – no pun intended. If you feel as though your trainer doesn’t listen, make them. If that doesn’t work, find another. If you find yourself going down a path where you’re ultimately going to hate exercise, something is wrong. As great as it is to have a personal trainer, not everyone has the luxury to have one for the rest of their lives. Nor should they. A good trainer will be able to keep a long and stable relationship with you as long as they are constantly striving to become better. But ultimately, we’re there to show you the ropes. We’re not correcting your posture, or reminding you to breathe, just for the sake of commenting. Your trainer should explain to you why it is that you’re doing these things so that ultimately you walk away with a basic knowledge of how to exercise safely and correctly. Eventually you should be able to work out on your own. And to be honest, sometimes, you just need someone to remind you of your appointment and push you when you’re feeling lazy. Or if you are trying a new kind of working out (yoga, kickboxing, etc), guidance should be essential to avoid injury or failure to progress. Don’t be scared or become disheartened when it’s hard to find the right trainer, right away. Sometimes there’s a honeymoon period, and things go sour. But the trainer is there for you. And you’re paying good money for it. So make sure that you’re working out with someone who has your best interest at heart. This way, when you finally move on to bigger/better things, you know you have the knowledge and foundation to keep reaching/surpassing your goals.
Thanks Rita for the insight! Fit Fem’rs, she’s right about everything she has said today in this blog post. If you want personal training sessions, you need to base your decision on the trainer’s quality. And believe me, when you make that decision, it can have the most positive impact on your life.
Did you know I specialize in “in-home” personal training? Yea, I bring the gym to you. So if you have been following my blog, hopefully you feel that you trust me enough to have me in your home to transform your body and your life. Don’t be shy and email me if you are ready to make that decision! Let's make it happen!!
Love you all Fit Femr’s!!
Keeping the fun in fitness!
Your fit fem personal trainer and expert in women's only fitness,