ACE Fitness: What Should a Personal Trainer Look Like?

Article by Dr. Erin Nitschke
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The “standard” image of a health and exercise professional is constantly evolving, much like the fitness industry itself, and concerns regarding body image abound. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that building a better, more efficient and higher-performing body is part of the business of fitness. On the other hand, fitness isn’t just about the physical body—at least it shouldn’t be.

While the fitness industry has never been immune to body-image issues, the topic has more recently gained greater attention. In a recent issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal, fitness expert Amanda Vogel argued that “body image issues in the fitness industry are nothing new. But the need for a more positive philosophy and more diverse perceptions of beauty is especially relevant right now. With rising competition from fitness technologies, social media stars who plug fitness, TV trainers and an increasingly crowded marketplace within our own communities, a nice body can (and should) only get you so far in this industry” (Vogel, 2018).

Which brings us to the heavily debated question: “What should a personal trainer look like?” Other intriguing questions are offshoots of this debate, including:

  • What makes a personal trainer successful?
  • What makes a personal trainer qualified and valuable?
  • Is the way a personal trainer looks directly related to client success?
  • Is it a realistic and fair expectation that all health and exercise professionals have a perfect physique?
  • What does perfect even mean?

Judging by past definitions and images of “perfection,” no one really knows. So, why should we care?

Fitness experts will agree: A perfect body isn’t necessary to be a professional in the health and fitness industry or to be successful in the industry. This opinion, however, is counterintuitive to the images portrayed in industry advertisements, social media and marketing materials. Images of the stereotypical chiseled, six-pack abs on scantily clad bodies dominate the visual aids to which we and our clients are exposed.

Consequently, it is more the rule —rather than the exception—for a client to make assertions such as “I want to have a six-pack” or “I want to get a perfect body by next summer.” It’s also not unusual for health and exercise professionals to place the same pressure on themselves to “look” the part. What’s interesting is that the majority of health and exercise professionals do not make health and fitness about an outward appearance. Instead, their focus is on helping someone build a better lifestyle.

So, why should we, as the professionals, place pressure on ourselves to obtain and maintain a so-called perfect body when no one knows what that means?

In her article, Vogel argued that the change has to begin with us (2018). Chris Gagliardi, an ACE Certified Professional agrees. “The perfect body is the one you are confident in. We cannot equate physical appearance with knowledge, competence or professional effectiveness. It’s time we, as both an industry and individual professionals, acknowledge that healthy looks different for and on everybody.”

How can we help our clients develop body confidence and body pride if we ourselves are incapable of doing the same?

Perhaps the best question to ask isn’t what a personal trainer should look like, but what a personal trainer should be like. Being a personal trainer is not about fitting into some cookie-cutter, air-brushed, photo-shopped image. It’s about character, integrity, passion and knowledge. Further, success as a personal trainer is not dependent upon the presence or absence of some idealized physical attributes that most people are unlikely to possess. We need to recognize that our thoughts and words have tremendous power. We also must start placing the focus on what really matters—the individual and the contributions he or she makes to the fitness industry. The sum total of a health and exercise professional’s contribution will not be his or her body. If that’s how we see it, we are, quite sadly, adrift in our mission.

If you’ve ever attended a professional fitness industry conference or workshop, the images you see in advertisements do not accurately portray the professionals in the industry. Fitness professionals look different from each other and that’s O.K. That’s authentic. That’s real. We are role models. We are leaders. We are influencers. Let that be the mark we leave and be judged upon—not a size or number on the scale.

What should a personal trainer look like? Like you. Like me. Like each of us in our individual and imperfect glory. That’s what we look like.

https://www.acefitness.org/…/what-should-a-personal-trainer-look-like

Putting It Out There

For about a year the bathroom scale has been fluctuating between the same 3-5 pounds. Up down, up down. Believe me, there have been no complaints from me about that. It’s all part of weight maintenance. That’s my main goal … just maintain and keep the weight off this time!

However, over the last couple of months, that fluctuation has only gone up … with no “back down.” It’s not a lot, but it is still concerning to me and it’s the reason for this post. I’m hoping that by putting it out there in the universe will somehow give me the strength to reel it back in and get back in control.

I started a new job this year and these people have no idea where I’ve come from or my journey to get here. Food is everywhere, I often find myself over indulging because I know these new co-workers are not judging me or questioning my choices.

I know I have to take ownership of my own decisions, but I still find it sad that I can’t just have a couple of Hershey Kisses or a small cookie without seeing evidence of it on the scale. I guess the most disappointing part is that I cannot say NO to these small goodies or really any food that is offered to me.

The only strategy that has worked for me is to completely avoid any temptation. I don’t buy any junk food or goodies for home. Each morning I pack myself a great lunch including healthy snacks for the day, all with the calorie count in mind while also keeping in mind what I will have for dinner that night. Everything is counted for ahead of time, right down to the exact calorie. The problem starts when someone says “there are cookies in the breakroom” or “who wants something from Starbucks?” or “go with me to the cafeteria to see what they got.”

At one time, not so long ago, I was able to say no most of the time, but lately I can never say no. I think it may be time for me to let these new co-workers in on my recent weight loss. Not because they are my problem but because it may help keep me accountable and more comfortable declining goodies that are offered.

Proving and Improving Myself

Last year proved to be an extremely productive year for me. I started the year 70 pounds down from my original start weight and I begun my first full year of weight loss maintenance. But there was still more to achieve in 2018.

At the age of 48, I completed my studies at community college and received my Associates Degree in Accounting. Although, I playecapd it off to family and friends, claiming that it wasn’t a big deal, it definitely was. I am very proud to add a college degree to my recent accomplishments.

Over the summer I received my certification as a Personal Trainer. That course was certainly no easy task, but I really wanted to legitimize my weight loss and my continued fitness journey to myself. I want to share everything I’ve learned with everyone I come in contact with. I want to shout it from the roof tops …. I’VE LOST 70 POUNDS AND I’M A CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER! LET ME HELP YOU!

But, what I’m learning along the way is, not everyone cares. Some people are not ready to make a lifestyle change. I know for most people they just don’t know how or where to begin. That is where I want to help. If I’m being truthful, approaching people in a helpful and tactful way and being sensitive to people’s feelings is not my forte. I come across as bossy or talking down to people or sometimes bragging about my own success. This is the #1 area I need to work on. I want my loved ones to know I love them and I just want to help. I guess it’s best to wait until someone asks for help, rather than trying to force unwanted information on them.

Happy New Year?

Seriously, where does the time go?

I can’t believe this is my first blog post of 2018. I hope everyone is having a productive year so far.

Thoughts and ideas are going through my mind all the time … I plan to post here, but then something sidetracks me.

I had many goals for 2018, some happened, some didn’t. The most important was weight loss maintenance. I am proud to say that I have been able to maintain my 70 pound weight loss. This year I’ve been able to remain consistent with my daily workouts, meal planning and meal prepping. I’ll write more about how I’m able to stay motivated in a future post.

The goal that I haven’t achieved yet is to be more active on my blog and find topics that people what to hear about so that I can expand my following. I guess I better get focusing on that.

Twelve 5Ks in 12-months!

Not bad for someone who started 2017 over 60 pounds heavier and could hardly walk without getting winded. I’m not saying I ran all 12 of the 5Ks this year, not even close, it was only the last two that I did more running than walking.

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My goal for 2018 is to run an entire 5K (with no walking), and then maybe just maybe, attempt a 10K. I doubt I’ll ever go for any longer distances, but it is a great workout and it’s nice to get out of the gym once in a while and get some fresh air.

I have quite a nice collection of T-shirts and medals from 2017, some are super cute 🙂