The month is January, and this is the time of year in which millions of human souls, consider to embark upon the New Years Resolution of weight loss and better health and fitness. The ads are everywhere, the videos (or DVDs. Geez you know you are getting older, when you instinctively reference a redundant technology), and the gyms are promoting the living daylights out of memebership contracts of at least a year.
If you were to have asked me this time twelve months ago, how difficult the job of a self-employed Personal Trainer was, I'd have responded in an ignorance that it is a simple job which any old idiot could do; Go in, train some people, go home, sleep, make a lot of cash rinse, and repeat... boy did I get this one wrong!
There are so many difficulties in this field that it is hard to know where to begin. Firstly there is the inconsistency of clients, and all the conditioning from media and advertising telling them about magic fitness techniques and products, which will sculpt a six pack in seven days. Or the lose five stone while still eating the foods you love plan types - surely anyone with half a brain can figure out that doing that which repeatedly made you overweight in the first place, will not change a thing? I mean, it isn't rocket science after all... I wonder if rocket scientists find this statement offensive? Anyhow, because of this the Trainers are, besides having to take the time to explain the brainwashing away, also expected to perform miracles, and keep the client motivated after the reality kicks in sometime down the line.
Then there is the idea that Personal Trainers are some form of super-robot, who live off celery, sleep one hour a night, have never touched a sugar or a fermented vegetable product, crap thunder, and eat lightning for breakfast - therefore all the hours and hours or work and dedication is easy. As if they were processed by some kind of Doctor Frankenstein machine. Kinda obvious I know, but Trainers are in fact human. The only difference is they are made of stronger stuff than the average mortal, and just keep going, and going, even if physically and mentally wrecked.
Another aspect, and the one I truly appreciate more than any other, as well as neglected more than the rest, is the level of intellect in social psychology needed to make their careers substantial. They are constantly in a situation where the ability to read beyond the basic statements are a must. We never always say what we truly mean, and even when we do, deep down we may not believe it anyway. Some may want to be really pushed hard and want to honestly improve their lifestyle. Others may just want to say to their friends they want a personal trainer, and pay the required amount to do so. There is, as in all business and life, no one size fits all mentality to the approach. Reading people is a requisite, and giving them what they want, while still making sure they have received solid training, and therefore been given their moneys worth, is a challenge unto itself.
Then there are the individual training routines and diet plans. An obese fourty-nine year old, will not require the same workout as a slim twenty-one year old - it would also be somewhat dangerous too. The same goes for the food they eat. Separating each client and working out the routine and work, is more time and effort, yet again unrecognized by the mass majority, at least I feel this way.
There are other elements, but the inner workings of the career is of something I do not do, and it is not my business to run up a list of the varying challenges of the job itself.
All I know is that it is a very tough gig. They are selling themselves, healthy living, and working out. They are competing with each other, while conversely trying to form bonds with each other. They retain zero help from the companies which employ them, and, much like Pro-Wrestlers, are employees when it suits the gym, yet independent contractors when it suits the company they work for too. They work long and arduous hours,
are constantly having to prove themselves to others who feel a level of threat by their abilities, always having to find new clients while retaining old ones, and never really receiving anywhere near the recognition which I personally feel they deserve for it. Most jobs are tough, but the glamourous nature of the perception it has, tends to lend itself to a lack of credit for just how hard it is to do. And yet, they continue to plow away, work hard, life the fitness lifestyle, and never give in. And for that reason alone, I salute the Personal Trainers of this world, and hand you all a double-thumbs up
By far one of the greatest aspects of the gym, at least for me anyway, is that hardly anyone, ever, is anything but positive and progressive. If you are in the gym, you are half way there. And I have more respect for an obese person trying to get healthier, than a toffee sitting at home every day, watching episodes of Saints And Scroungers and Murder She Wrote, while munching away on last nights Domino's extra hot. If you live and train healthy long enough, eventually it becomes secondary, and you don't even think about cooking rice and chicken after a long session with weights or cardio. It is worth it, but, much like all the great aspects of life, you have to get to the peak of the mountain, before you can truly see the view for all it's true value and glory.
The obesity problem is an epidemic, and I have sympathy for anyone who gets to this situation. A couple of decades from now, it is going to be a real serious western issue, and how it is fixed, I have no idea. But until then, I will keep training hard, and keep pretending I am as tough as those which do it for a living - even though, in reality... I aint even close!