I believe the title of Personal Trainer can be misleading. What exactly is a Personal Trainer? What does it take to be a Personal Trainer or to get a job as a Personal Trainer? How much money does your average Personal Trainer make? Unfortunately, titles or perceptions are not always what they appear to be. Your average personal trainer most likely spent less than $300 on their education, got a textbook in the mail, and had to pass an open book, take home exam with a score of 80% or better for the privilege of being able to declare to the world, they are indeed a Certified Personal Trainer. Whew Hew! I believe your average Big Box Personal Trainer probably makes between $10 - $15 an hour. How good do you really think they are? How much do you think they really know? Will they even be there 6 months from now or still be a Personal Trainer? How much do they really know about exercise science, program design, customized fitness programs, proper movement, nutrition, etc... Should you really trust this person with your health? The vast majority of times I walk into a gym I literally cringe when I see personal trainers teaching clients exercises incorrectly or exercises that are literally proven to be detrimental. Or how about those Personal Trainers that just assume that everybody wants to be a bodybuilder like them and have their clients all doing the same program? It's downright scary! To clarify, this article is about Personal Trainers. I'm not comparing myself to Sports Medicine Professionals like Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Doctors, Orthopedic Surgeons, Licensed Massage Therapists, etc... I believe that Sports Medicine Professionals have the best academic back ground and are the most able to be truly great Personal Trainers. The problem is they don't offer Personal Training! Further, just like anything else it's really hard to find a truly great practitioner. Unfortunately, you can not judge the quality of information that you're receiving by the degree, title, or credential of the individual you're receiving it from. I believe wholeheartedly to quote the great Dr. Stuart McGill that "The vast majority of health and fitness professionals are woefully uneducated!" Moving on, I sincerely believe that I am the the BEST PERSONAL TRAINER in BUFFALO. I'm sure I'm going to take a good amount of criticism for this. Some people will get pretty fired up over it. I won't lose a minute of sleep over it, because I'm very confident that it's true. I'm fully aware that my statement can be interpreted as a very cocky and arrogant. Perhaps, I'm delusional or crazy. I'm sure that some would agree. Both are entirely possible. At the end of the day I'm not terribly concerned about what other people think. I've never really cared. I learned as a child, it doesn't really matter what other people think YOU can accomplish, it only matters what YOU believe YOU can accomplish. YOU have to believe first, before anybody else does. More to the point, about 18 months ago or so I had lunch at O3 Cafe on Main Street in Snyder with a friend of mine who owns in my opinion the very best of all the Big Box Health Clubs or Fitness Centers in WNY. We were having a great lunch and I was explaining to him a number of things that I was working on and learning. To make a long story short, towards the end of the conversation he said to me "Do you think other trainers have the knowledge that you have?" You're the best Personal Trainer in Buffalo. Wow! That was pretty cool! Fast forward to a few months later, 2 executives were in my office for an initial conversation during their search for a Personal Trainer in downtown Buffalo. Without any planning or thinking ahead, I looked them square in the eye and told them with complete honesty and utter confidence that I'm the best Personal Trainer in Buffalo. I had never said it before. I didn't expect to say it then. It just kind of naturally came out and actually startled me a little bit. So, what exactly does it take to be a truly great Personal Trainer? Below, I've listed the critical components. It is VITAL for you to understand that ALL of the components are required! If ANY of the components are missing, the effectiveness of the trainer and the subsequent results are greatly diminished.[subscribe2] Here we go with the list:
- The Science - A truly great Personal Trainer MUST have at least a solid foundation of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. They need to understand the body, the way the body functions, and how the body moves. They need to be able to recognize the difference between functional movement and dysfunctional movement. Many people undoubtedly need to MOVE MORE BUT, BEFORE YOU MOVE MORE, YOU BETTER BE MOVING WELL. If I remember correctly, in the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer textbook 60% of clients starting a new exercise program get injured in the first 6 weeks. One of the biggest mistakes a Personal Trainer can make is adding weight or loading and reinforcing dysfunctional movement which invariably leads to injury. Functional Movement Systems states "Don't add fitness on top of dysfunction!" Often, more is not better.
- They Need to be In Great Shape or To Have Been in Great Shape - This is simple and logical. If they haven't been there before, how on earth are they going to help get you there? It's one thing to read it in a book but, it's an entirely different thing to actually do it. You don't become a great golfer by doing a lot of reading about golf. Another thought is that's it's pretty easy to look damn good when you're a teenager. Do you remember how you looked and felt as a teenager. Have you seen pictures of you're hold high school classmates on Facebook that used to be in great shape and now, not so much? It's easy to look good when your young so don't assume that the really young Personal Trainer at your gym is an expert on fitness.
- Excellent Teacher - Even if the Personal Trainer has the greatest understanding of Sports Medicine in the history of mankind, is ripped, and in incredibly great shape it's not enough. It's not going to do you much good if they are not an excellent teacher. I'm sure you've come across people who were incredibly intelligent but, couldn't teach. They couldn't communicate or transfer their great knowledge to their students. A truly great Personal Trainer will show great patience and take the time to make sure that you have great form and technique on all your movements / exercises. A truly great Personal Trainer is always a truly great teacher!
- Excellent Motivator - It's not enough to know the science, be in great shape, and be an excellent teacher. A truly great personal trainer MUST be an excellent motivator. Let's face it, if you're like 99% of us, you're not going to come into the gym rearing to go every single time because we're human. A truly great Personal Trainer MUST be able to lift you up and give you energy. That's an important reason why you're coming to a Personal Trainer in the first place.
- Intuition - A truly great Personal Trainer needs to be able to establish a CONNECTION with YOU and develop CHEMISTRY with YOU which turns workouts into FLOW. It should feel right and make sense. You should enjoy it and know that you're making progress. YOU should FEEL GREAT walking out the door. You'll know it when you're there. They need to metaphorically, have their finger on your pulse and know exactly when to push and when to back off and know just the right level of intensity to push YOU on THAT day with THAT exercise. This is rare gift indeed.
- Sincere, Deeply Rooted, Genuine, Passion to help you succeed - This is the absolutely critical wild card that makes all the difference in the World! It can't be learned! It can't be faked! It can't be taught! It can't be bought! It can't be acquired! A truly great Personal Trainer is born with it! It's part of who they are in the deepest part of their soul. It's in their DNA. You as a client can feel it! You can recognize it in them when they are little children. They REALLY want you to succeed. They are driven by their respect and gratitude for you as a client. They are literally energized and fueled by your success! They need your success to feel good about themselves and worthwhile!
- Commitment to Greatness - We've all been there before. It's late. You're tired. You're hungry. You have 3 sets to go. It's only human nature that you start to slip a little bit. You can feel that your form and technique waiver. 5 more minutes to go. Almost done! In this moment of truth that can't be simulated, a Personal Trainer has a decision to make. This decision is one of many that will put them on the path to greatness or mediocrity. Will they compromise!? Will they settle for less than your best and their best? A truly great Personal Trainer makes the decision to never ever compromise! Despite how late it is, how tired they are, how red their eyes are, how hoarse their voice is from coaching all day, they will stop you every single time when you lose your way and correct you and put you back on that straight and narrow path again. A truly great Personal Trainer will always be willing to take that extra step.
- Continuous Learning - A truly great Personal Trainer is never satisfied with their knowledge and has an unquenchable desire to keep getting better. You should be able to ask them "What have you done in the last 30 days to get better?" They will regularly tell you that they need to change their schedule because they're going to a lecture, traveling to a summit or a training, working with one of their peers, learning from a Sports Medicine professional, going to an exercise class at another gym, going to be trained by another trainer, etc... It never ends and is part of who they are.
Speaking on Continuous Learning, I've worked hard to establish a fairly impressive list of credentials and have achieved note worthy recognition as a Personal Trainer but, I have done so much more. For example, I have successfully pursued and paid for some of the best Health, Medical, and Fitness Practitioners in the world to teach and train me to be better. I have so much more to learn. Here is a partial list of professionals that I've had the opportunity to work with and learn from: Eric Beard - Director of Advanced Education for the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Dr. Stuart McGill - The undisputed leading authority on low back health and core performance in the world, Chris Nentarz - former Director of Physical Therapy for Athletes Performance who we are very fortunate to do some regular on-site work with us, Walter Brown - Director of Physical Therapy at Buffalo Spine and Sports, Gray Cook - Founder of Functional Movement Systems, Frasier Quelch - Director of Training and Development for Fitness Anywhere and Creator of the TRX Training Program, and many, many more! Remember, I stated my belief at the beginning that it is VITAL for you to understand that ALL of the components are required! If ANY of the components are missing the effectiveness of the trainer and the subsequent results are greatly diminished. In summary, there are many who know the science far better than I, who are in way better shape, and that are better motivators. No question. Not even close. Hands down. However; to this day I have never met anyone, nor am I aware of any Personal Trainer who embodies ALL of the 8 characteristics and traits better. If that person is out there, I can't wait to meet them and work with them so we can both be better. So there it is. I've stated my case! Feel free to laugh, criticize, send me nasty emails, and curse me. I probably won't notice. I'll be too busy forging forward on the path to greatness. Hopefully, I'll see you on the way. [subscribe2]