I’m not a personal trainer yet. But when I decided to become a trainer and nutrition coach, I understood that it was a major commitment. Not just because of the training up front and the ongoing education and all the other changes it would in my life.
But because it means my own fitness and conditioning will always have to be a top priority.
It’s not like I was planning to just let myself go eventually. But as far as I’m concerned, this profession requires a certain amount of walking the walk.
I’d love hear your thoughts, so as you read this, think about the question – does a trainer’s appearance influence your opinion of them? Would it influence your decision to hire somebody to train you? Keep reading, but then leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
Here’s where the question comes from: I was part of a online conversation recently about whether it’s okay for trainers to be out of shape, whether the appearance of fitness was a qualification for the job. Some people got bent out of shape at the implication that trainers should all look like Barbies or body builders or that they should be held to a higher standard than the general public.
First things first – trainers SHOULD be held to a higher fitness standard than the general public. The general public knows very little about fitness, lifting technique, exercise programming, nutrition, etc. etc. That’s why they pay trainers. So if Average Joe can’t safely assume his trainer has knowledge that he himself doesn’t personally have, why would he hire said trainer?
Let’s say it’s a given: trainers have this knowledge. What does it say about them, then, if they don’t apply their knowledge to their own lives and bodies?
Would you go to a mechanic who’s car was never running? A chiropractor with horrible posture? A mentally unstable psychologist?
It’s not like I’d only go to a trainer who looked like he just stepped off the cover of Men’s Health magazine. But if all other things were equal, I’d most definitely chose a lean, athletic, in-shape guy over a chubby, sweaty dude breathing hard walking up a flight of steps. Even if all things WEREN’T equal and the chubby guy’s credentials were a little better or he’d be training longer, I still might be more inclined to go with the fit guy. Because part of a trainer’s job is to motivate his clients. And a guy who doesn’t look like he’s ever done the exercises he’s telling me to do isn’t going to be as motivating as a guy who clearly has put in the time and effort himself.
I’d never say that somebody carrying a few extra pounds shouldn’t be training, or that there’s a certain weight or line that should be drawn to determine who’s fit enough or not fit enough for the job. And of course, somebody may have injuries and limitations that keep them from living the fitness lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean they can’t teach it. I’d even guess that a more “real” looking trainer might be easier to relate to and less intimidating for lots of gym-goers. So let’s say we all agree that there’s room for all types of bodies and all levels of fitness.
I still think it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that a personal trainer’s appearance sends a message to prospective clients and frankly, other trainers as well, about their professional abilities and commitment.
A trainer has a unique opportunity to model the behaviors they expect from their clients, as well as what the results of their hard work could look like. A trainer who is fit, strong, and lean is a walking, talking, testimonial for their personal training skills.
What do you think?