Gym Talk: Are Fit Pros Helpful or Hurtful?

Happy Monday fit peeps and geeks! Cause if you follow my posts, you’re bound to have a little geek in ya ;)

Today’s Gym Talk session will hit hard on a subject pretty close to me: are fitness professionals HELPFUL or are they hurtful?

Little disclaimer here….I am what is considered a fitness professional. I value my career and love that I can spend every day doing what I truly love. If you don’t know me, trust me when I say EDUCATION is the paramount of my success as a trainer, nutritionist and coach. Never stop learning…..i.e. Stay in school kids.

The thought for this post actually came along while I was in California this past Summer for the Idea World Convention. I was a guest with Blogfest (along with a couple hundred other lovely ladies…..and like one man, Hi Laird!). Idea World is the world’s largest fitness convention with a completely mind-blowing array of fit goodies, but I really went for the education. One of my first classes was a nutrition class taught by a registered dietician. Let me break this down real quick: she is an RD, I am a nutritionist. She is more highly educated and knows more than me on the subject of nutrition science. I went to soak up the knowledge :) Sadly, MANY participants acted a bit more like the old guys in the rafters on the Muppets. It was disturbing to say the least. These people travel in packs too, because they cannot defend their unrealistic views without help….any guesses as to the crowd? I’ll never tell….

At any rate, people in the audience started questioning science. Not the good kind of questioning, but the kind that was pretty clear that GOOGLE is their personal nutritionist. When the RD (Jessica Crandall for those who want to know) would answer the question professionally, she was met with theory and statements that made no sense in the nutrition science realm of things. Then, when these people were dissatisfied with her lack of agreement in their argument, they left in the middle of the class….and they did it as loudly as they can. Jessica handled the entire thing FAR better than I could have hoped to.

Another thing I noticed (since I was attending alone) was that many of these fitness “professionals” would travel in their packs and literally walk through others. Keep in mind that the convention hall with all the goodies is open to the public (or commoners as I’m sure this group refers to them). Shoulder back and sauntering, fit pros would look over the heads of those deemed less than functionally fit…..and I believe it is professionals like this that hinder progress on any level.

Even now I notice this behavior in the gym. Trainers look over their own clients and watch others. People new to working out are intimidated to ask a trainer for help. Many trainers don’t make themselves available…unless they think they can get a sale. A lot of the latter can be blamed on how large chain gyms are run, but the previous 2 depend on professionals to put their professional pants on and make a difference.

As a fitness professional, what can you do to create an environment of change, wherever you are?

  1. Maintain an approachable demeanor, especially if you’re on the clock. Make eye contact with patrons, walk up to those who seem to be struggling and ask (with no expectation of being picked up as their trainer) if you can help them with a certain machine or movement.
  2. If you are training a client, pay attention to that client….the whole time.
  3. When you’re off the clock or at a convention, resist the urge to stay comfortable with “your” people. We’re ALL people. None of actually have super powers, so stop acting like you’re better than the rest of the population.
  4. Remember that training is customer service and customer service grows through word of mouth. I have always had a wait-list due to how I treat people, not because of how I look or the demeanor I project.
  5. Get a mentor. They don’t have to live near you, but find a trainer who has been successful in this business and LEARN from them. Learn about people skills, programming, education, etc. Never stop learning.
  6. Make it a point to watch everything around you. As you walk through a convention, stand tall but don’t be intimidating. Give others the right of way for a change and expand your vision past your own 6 pack.

It’s time for fitness professionals to set a standard. I know a lot of trainers don’t turn this into a career, but for those who do it can be very rewarding. The world needs the knowledge we have. We need those in the world to be able to put food on the table.

At the end of the day, we are all PEOPLE. There is no one better than the other or with more willpower or self control……we all have something others need. Carve your path, but carve it mind fully.

BTW, big thanks to Pamela with thrivefit.com for making the convention more fun for this fellow introvert :)

Be you,

Michelle

Comments

  1. Thank you Michelle! Great post. If we wanted to be treated like professionals by the medical, science and business community we need to start acting like one. Many fitness professionals deserve that designation but there are too many out there who don’t.

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