Wow, it has been about six months since I’ve posted a proper article on my site. Due to lots of personal stuff and my business exploding in May time to sit down and write has been minimal at best. I also have some exciting side projects that I have been working on, but I wanted to touch base with my readership and let you all know what is in the works.
First of all, for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, ISOPHIT has become an integral part of my practice. The results have been nothing short of amazing for providing new stable joints and allowing people who have limited range of motion to strengthen muscles without having to risk any issues. I’m still offering FREE workouts on this apparatus if you want to experience it any time, just contact me.
I’m heading to Toronto in October to finally take the first part of the ISOPHIT certification program (I took the second part in April) and gain some more knowledge about the apparatus and how to apply it effectively. It’s really a game changer.
The second part of the Joint Injury Management Series is almost completed! Due to schedules I don’t know if I’ll be able to roll it out this year and may have to wait until next year to get it going, but that just means I can do it back to back with my initial course again on the knee. This one focuses on the shoulder and will help fellow trainers and other therapists learn pathology and solutions for things like rotator cuff problems, labral tears, tennis elbow and more!
The third exciting thing is I’m finally putting together a short Ebook on total back care and recovery from back injury. I’m excited to say that this offering will be FREE and will provide comprehensive information about your spinal health including recovery movements, strength movements and some things you can focus on to make sure back injury never comes back once it’s gone!
So essentially besides training my clients all the time I have a lot on the go. If you have any interest in anything I’ve discussed please let me know and I’m happy to sign you up for updates and get you on my mailing list for the new Ebook and course offering. Just click on the subscribe button at the top right!
And, as always you can follow me on Facebook and other social media outlets.
Just a quick update for today, but much, much more to come in the future from the Institute!
It’s a New Year and gyms are flooded with people with the best of intentions. They’ve set a weight loss or other fitness goal to work towards in the New Year. Many of them have never been in a gym or haven’t used their membership in a long, long time. So what’s a good idea? Hire someone to help keep them accountable and help them with your goals, right?
Now before I go into the negatives, I believe strongly in my industry. A good trainer is worth their weight in gold towards keeping you accountable, safe and progressing towards better health and physical movement. Someone who is dedicated to their craft, learns constantly and uses many types of tools depending on the client.
The reason for this article is that in most chain gyms this is rare. The personal training world has no barrier to entry. I can direct you to a web site where for $200 and doing a quick multiple choice exam (which I got 92% on without studying a thing) you can get a certificate as a personal trainer. Many certification courses out there aren’t much better than this. Goodlife for one actually has their own training certification (called GLPTI) their employees are forced to go through (and have to pay for themselves) that teaches sales techniques, not proper training principles beyond periodization. Here in Ottawa, I recently learned that another big chain gym (Movati) is doing the same thing now. It’s not about results – it’s about money. Sales drives the training industry, especially in chain gyms.
Training also has its’ share of people who really don’t care. Most trainers (80%) leave the industry within two years and get into it for the wrong reasons. They want an easy way to make money because training has a high pay rate per hour while they can work where they like to hang out – the gym. At the beginning, maybe they have good intentions but quickly realize that they aren’t going to be working with athletes and fitness models and have to get up at 5am to service people. So their motivation is gone, and therefore your results.
So what can happen is a lot of people who really need help hire a “trainer” who has no knowledge or intention to really do a good job. Or, at most chain gyms you book a “free consultation” (ProTip: EVERY TRAINER OFFERS THESE, IT ISN’T SPECIAL). You get paired with not who is the best fit, but who has an open time that fits yours or a new trainer who needs to fill their schedule. And you get results – maybe – or possibly a higher risk of getting hurt or bad advice.
So here’s my recommendations of what to do when anyone starts looking for a trainer, either at a chain gym or elsewhere.
Do Your Homework
Chain gyms often have a wall of trainers, with lists of their skills and certifications. The newer ones will have less – or have things like “former college athlete” on their bio along with their one certification. This is to fill space, it isn’t a qualification. They will also be a lower level therefore cheaper to hire. This isn’t necessarily bad, it is just an indicator that they haven’t been around as long and possibly don’t sell packages well (ProTip: At most chain gyms, the “Level” of trainer is based on sales – not skills.)
Read the bios, then if you find one that you think sounds like they have qualifications to match what you want – go find them. Preferably WATCH them with a client. Some things to look for:
- Are they paying attention and focused on the client?
- Are they writing things down or recording somehow (some use tablets now)?
- Are they coaching and correcting when needed or just counting reps?
- Are they doing proper rest periods or chatting for minutes between sets?
Then – if they seem to be doing all these things – approach them (or the manager) and ask specifically to meet with them for a consultation. I’ve been doing this job for over 15 years and my consults are my time. Why? Because I as the trainer need to know if we are a good fit to work together, and sometimes I need to refer people to someone else if we’re not. I just recently did this with a friend of mine because she wanted something I don’t specialize in, even though she wanted to work with me.
If you’re going the independent or at home trainer route, make sure to ask for references from people who have similar goals to yours. Any good long term trainer has lots of happy clients, even if they are former clients for whatever reason. If they can’t provide this simple thing, then you might want to be wary. You also want to make sure that their style and facility matches with things like your location and how they will motivate you since you likely can’t see them work with people ahead of time.
Don’t Fall For Sales Tactics
A good trainer will have a plan, but if a potential client asks me how long it’s going to take to get to their goal my first answer is I DON’T KNOW. I can give a rough estimate, but it depends on a variety of factors, the biggest of which is your adherence as a client.
Many trainers will sit you down and say “It will take x amount of weeks at this phase of training (usually using big words like hypertrophy or mesocycle) to get to the next phase, we go through these phases and then you’re at your goal!” Hooray, right? But that’s over a period of 9 months and most will tell you you need 3 sessions a week to get proper results. Don’t get me wrong, you get the best results with more sessions – but cost (and time) is a factor for most people. Any trainer who says you MUST have this amount to reach your goals is trying to sell you something.
But wait – the total amount might be $$$ but we can stretch out that amount and you can pay for it over 12 months instead of 9, so it’s affordable. And then they start in with telling you all your flaws, or reminding you of that dress you want to fit into in six months and try to shame you into signing a big contract. I had a former co worker who prided herself on making people cry during consultations. Many trainers are really very good salespeople disguised as experts. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine and honestly it disgusts me. However, many trainers are hired by gyms for sales skills, not training skills.
A good trainer has a plan – but it is adjustable and takes into consideration things like time, budget and realistic situations. Most of my client roster basically had three weeks off schedule recently because their kids were out of school for holidays. A good trainer will adjust based on these circumstances. If you are in a specific phase of training then it can be extended, adjusted or whatever you need. Life happens.
If it sounds more like you’re buying a used car than hiring someone for a service then please think twice. The person should be telling you about how they are going to do things, not haggling on prices.
Don’t Sign a Long Term Contract
You’ve found a good trainer. You’re getting results, you get along and they seem to be a good fit. Excellent! But one day your trainer tells you that they are changing to a different gym that is inconvenient for you – or worse, is leaving the industry. There are little to NO safeguards that you can get your money back if you have paid them up front.
A chain gym will simply assign you another trainer (it’s in your contract). If you do your vetting process properly as in my previous paragraph this may work out well. But they will NOT give you a refund. Find another trainer that is a good fit for you and hopefully you can continue on the road to results. However, if you never signed a long term contract in the first place you can potentially move with the trainer which might be a better option.
If it is an independent trainer, then hopefully they are ethical enough to refund you, but this can be drawn out, and if they are more of a salesperson than a good trainer then likely they will simply disappear, especially if they are leaving the industry. Buyer beware. It’s much safer just to not have a long term commitment paid for up front. If a potential trainer is trying to get you to sign something for a long period of time, be careful and ask for options. (ProTip: Sessions should not cost less just because there are more of them, no other professional does this type of thing.)
Don’t Be Afraid to Fire Your Trainer
One thing that should drive the personal training industry is SERVICE. Just like any other industry. If your trainer is showing up late, constantly cancelling or rescheduling and you’re not getting the level of service you want then have a discussion with them about expectations and if they don’t meet them, you have the right to find another one who meets your needs.
The trainer/client relationship is often fairly close and can develop into friendship (which some trainers take advantage of in my opinion) so a client can “feel bad” for asking for good service from someone they are paying for a service! This is ridiculous. You’re paying $1 a minute for service – not a chatting partner or rep counter or someone who just doesn’t feel like working that day.
Just like any other professional, you have the right to expectations, and so does the trainer. I can count on one hand the amount of clients I’ve actually fired myself over fifteen years, but it has happened. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and do what is best for yourself and moving towards your fitness goals. Any professional will understand.
I applaud any of you who are looking to improve in 2017 and work towards getting healthier and in better shape. Set some short and long term goals, and remember the key to your success is consistency over time. The journey is worth it when you realize how good you feel and how much you can move without pain. A good trainer is a partner in that journey with you and I hope that you all find good ones.
If you want to reach me for inquires within the Ottawa area or elsewhere you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to my web site at http://www.srottawa.com if you have questions. I’m always happy to help.
Happy New Year!
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a cadaver dissection lab, the first one ever offered to trainers in Ottawa. This was a unique opportunity to see the things that I affect every day stripped right down and actually see inside the joints and muscles and other structures. Incredible for learning even more about how we work from the inside out.
You have over 640 muscles in your body, some estimates go as high as 667 depending on what is classified as a muscle. Every time you move you affect dozens of these. When you can actually move a joint that has been stripped away and see how these muscles pull and stretch and work together, one of the most amazing things to me was how resilient your body is on an ongoing basis.
One example was that there were two different feet from the tibia down. One had one heel basically underneath the tibia and another had the heel slightly offset to the outside. Imagine every foot strike (taking thousands a day) hitting just slightly off center. What would that do to things further up the line? Multiply that by say ten years and you’re talking about 7.3 million steps. Knee cartilage takes the same wear and tear over time, as does the hip and back. And that’s without ever lifting anything or moving quickly.
We take this for granted. Our body is obviously really, really tough but more often than not especially in athletics we think that it will heal and all will be fine. This type of movement and trauma changes it permanently. I saw several examples inside joints where wear and tear that you wouldn’t even know was there existed.
I got to see nerves actually coming out of the spinal cord and how thick they are. There are areas of the body where these nerves are constantly compressed over and over again, even without any type of inflammation. They still hold up for long periods of time without fraying, breaking or even compressing enough to cause an issue. This told me that when you have a problem with a nerve – it’s a serious problem. On the flip side, I got to see the nerves that actually run through the center of the spine and how protected they are, but also how delicate and could be easily destroyed.
There were certain muscles that until I saw how the fibers actually sat and saw the lines I thought functioned in slightly different ways. When you moved them you could also see how the muscles might stretch and align themselves to allow a completely different type of mechanical ability. It also illustrated how many muscles work together to achieve movement, whether it be something as simple as typing on this computer or as complex as lifting something quickly from the floor over your head.
I actually got to see fascia – connective tissue that provides tension for a lot of the body and also creates patterns of contraction that move throughout the body and connect different areas. Many of you probably know Gil Hedley and “The Fuzz Speech”? It’s there. Seriously. I saw it, touched it and even broke it up. Incredible to think that such a thing is really there, but there it was. All over the place. And it was very easily altered.
Now you may not really care about this stuff – but you should. These muscles don’t just help you when you’re exercising. They help you walk, get out of bed, brush your teeth, sit down, stand up and play with your kids. They provide strength for lifting your grocery bags or performing household tasks like gardening and cleaning. It is an incredible thing and very humbling that all of these things just work – on demand – for dozens of years without stopping or really breaking down until the buildup becomes so extreme.
The other big takeaway from a spiritual point of view was actually something I hadn’t considered when I first signed up. All of these cadavers were once people. They had lives and families and experiences that reflected in the way that their bodies presented. A couple of them had joint replacements. A couple of them obviously had trauma or arthritis or something happen to their bodies over a period of time. You really never know when this body that you are walking around in could suddenly either break down or simply pass on. We all are a sum of the experiences that we have, whether it be emotional, mental, or in this case, physical. If there’s one takeaway I can give you, it’s this:
DON’T TAKE YOUR BODY FOR GRANTED
You have a finite amount of everything. Steps, breaths, movements and experiences. Treat your body well because it is truly the vessel that carries you every day from one of these experiences to the next. It will fight off what you do to it, and obviously incredibly well, but eventually it will break down. Stave that off as long as you possibly can and enjoy being able to move, breathe and experience amazing things for decades to come.
If you enjoyed this please feel free to share and like it on social media. My Facebook page is here and you can follow me on Twitter @strengthottawa. You can also check out my web site at http://www.srottawa.com and feel free to contact me if you have any issues you need help with. Treat your body well today!
Due to the fact that my industry is unregulated and anyone can call themselves a trainer after taking a weekend course, it is generally filled with some pretty interesting characters. What still amazes me to this day is the fact that people will blindly walk into a fitness centre and sometimes invest thousands of dollars, simply under the promise that they are going to lose weight, get ripped or be able to perform like a high level athlete in no time – and not even interview the person properly! Some trainers prey on this like a lion devouring a carcass, and take advantage of people who are emotionally vulnerable as a part of their selling process. You can see examples of this all over YouTube if you just search for “personal trainer sales”.
Other trainers will use a personal relationship to take advantage of their clientele and drop their service level – sometimes to the point of completely neglecting them and what they were hired for in the first place. Because they now see the client as a friend, they allow themselves to forget the professional side of the equation. Trainers generally aren’t good business people, which is why they get into an easy entry profession in the first place, and chain gyms pretty much guarantee that even a totally incompetent idiot can get clients if they just stick around for long enough.
This bothers me. I tend to take my job as a trainer seriously, and what a lot of trainers (and clients) need to learn is that when you a trainer is affecting someone’s body in a positive or negative way they are impacting a lot more than just their physical well-being. Also, I don’t know many people who can afford to waste $60-100 an hour and not get value for it. I know I can’t. Our industry is also rampant with unprofessionalism. Trainers texting, eating, or ignoring clients to chat with other people during workouts. Trainers who talk more than they coach. Trainers who come in to work hung over and brag about it. Believe it or not, this is actually common – and it really shouldn’t be.
So in a nutshell, here are some very good reasons to fire your trainer. If you are a client reading this and can relate to one of these, fire your trainer. Today. If you are a trainer reading this and get fired (or have been in the past) well then odds are you should probably stop doing one of these.
1) They don’t show up for work.
Trainers who constantly cancel, take loads of time off and always make excuses or reschedule should be fired immediately. You are paying someone for a service and they are supposed to be focusing on you and your results. A trainer who no-shows for any reason in this day and age should likely be fired right away. With texting, email, easy ways to communicate there is no excuse beyond a legitimate emergency and this should happen once in a blue moon.
I personally know a trainer who took over 65 days away from work last year and constantly cancelled sessions last minute – but then would charge his clients if they did the same thing. That’s 13 working weeks away from his clients, and for some reason – he didn’t get fired by some of them. Good thing he got paid up front! As a client, don’t let your trainer use a personal relationship to abuse the fact that they are hired to do a job.
2) When they do show up, they act like you are hanging out with a buddy.
If you are talking more than you are working then the session probably isn’t doing you a lot of good. A skilled trainer can maintain a conversation (if you really need them to) while you are doing movements. Frankly, if you are resting too much because you are chatting, why are you paying that person? Most trainers cost over a dollar a minute – make sure you are getting value for your time. Personal training also isn’t a therapy session or a “nutrition consultation” where you pay the person to solve problems that are outside of their scope of practice. Doing ten sets of exercise in 45 minutes isn’t going to get you very far either. There should be a plan, and it should be executed properly. I know that often I don’t even have time to get everything in that I want to do in an hour long session, never mind chatting.
One big test – if your trainer is talking to you about their own personal issues a lot, get rid of them. The session should be about you and what you are accomplishing towards your fitness goals. Be serious about your physical fitness and health and find a trainer who is too.
Oh, and if they ever pull out a cell phone during a session except to use it as a timer or they have an emergency, you might want to think about how much they respect the time they have with you.
3) They don’t have a plan, long term or even during a session.
“What do you want to work on today?” was a normal thing I heard when I worked at some gyms. Um…it is your job to figure that out and tell me, that is what I’m paying you for. Can they modify or change a workout in the moment if it is needed because you ended up moving furniture the day before and your back is sore? If your trainer doesn’t have a plan for that workout and then moving forward odds are they really aren’t focused on getting you what you want – results. If you tell them that you don’t want to work a particular body part because it is already tired and they give you blank stare, run for the hills.
Part of the skill as a trainer is also being able to figure out what is appropriate for that person in the moment and constantly be assessing ability. This can change even movement to movement. If a client comes in and hasn’t slept, didn’t eat right or has another problem and the trainer just goes ahead with a hard core circuit workout (that they have likely done with every client that day) then they are putting you at risk of injury. Is someone who either doesn’t know better or doesn’t care worth investing in?
I actually heard of a guy who would put a daily workout on a wipe board and have every client do it that day – no matter their condition, age, size, etc. Ridiculous. And not worth your money.
4) They have no experience dealing with your specific issue.
I know you have a personal relationship with your trainer and would never want to leave them, but honestly sometimes if your goals change or something happens you may need to find a new one. An example would be a client who gets pregnant and their trainer has never worked with a pregnant woman before – is that really a good idea? If I suddenly decided to enter a powerlifting competition and my trainer was a marathon runner that might not be a great fit. If I seriously injure myself and my trainer has no background in that particular injury, is it really wise to hope that they learn with you as a guinea pig?
A trainer with integrity will refer out when situations like this come up, not simply wing it hoping for a good result. Don’t be afraid to suggest that maybe they could find you someone more suited to your needs. Likely the money you invest will get you a better result. Personally I’m never insulted if/when this happens and I have a good network of other professionals that I can refer to.
I know that sometimes I am negative on my industry, but realistically these things happen less often than you think. Just make sure that they aren’t happening to you! In order to improve your results, you need to make sure you are working with a top quality professional, and they are definitely out there. Sometimes you just have to weed through them a bit before finding a good one. Let me know if there is anything you would add to this list and feel free to comment and subscribe!