What it’s like to be a Personal Trainer

It is true that as a personal trainer, my job is great. Every day I witness lives change, goals accomplished, and barriers broken.  It’s pretty damn cool!

In many ways I feel the profession of personal training, and the trainers themselves, are frequently misunderstood.  People seem to think all we do is train and workout and it has been glamorised by the media. Comedy shows and commercials frequently portray fitness professionals as self-obsessed airheads with amazing bodies that can barely form a complete sentence, let alone educate their clients about proper body mechanics or nutrition.


For the sake of setting the record straight and giving you a real insight to what being a personal trainer consists off, I thought I would share some of the not so glamours home truths we go through on a daily basis. So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 “ugly truths” about being a Personal Trainer.


1. Are you Ready?

When we ask are your ready? It’s a rhetorical question, we don’t care whether you are or aren’t. It is merely us providing you with a warning that we are about to say ‘3,2,1,GO’.

Tip: the only thing that will stop me saying ‘ready’ is if you are all laying on the ground looking slightly nauseous.


2. You have outrageous expectations.

It happens nearly every time we perform a consultation. A client stands up and points to a specific area on their body and says ‘I want to lose/gain weight right here’, or ‘ I want to look like …(insert supermodel/movie star image here)’.  We are good, but we are not God.

Tip: Everybody is different, we have different bone structure, body types and stress levels that are external to our training. These will all affect your ability to obtain results. Make educated goals with your trainer, this is what we do and we want to see you succeed.


3. You’re accidentally flashing us.

We have been flashed and have seen more than you want to know…

Tip: A few top tips to remember; make sure you wear underwear, your leggings are more transparent than you think, your gym shorts will not compensate for loose fitting boxers, and double up on the sports bra if you need too ladies.


4. We don’t “eat clean” all the time

Not even close. Contrary to popular belief, we are not all “Food Nazis”. We enjoy the occasional slice of pizza ( or two, who am I kidding an entire pizza!) at the best of times. We love chocolate and ice cream, and also enjoy the occasional (GASP!) alcoholic beverage.

Tip: No, this doesn’t make us hypocrites. It makes us human and realistic. Remember that everyone is different and has different goals therefore different nutrition requirements. In fact, I’d say 95% of the trainers I know subscribe to some version of the “80/20 rule,” meaning we make healthy choices 80% of the time but allow that 20% for our favourite treats.


5. We wish you would focus on more than the scales!

Nothing hurts us more than a client that comes in disappointed that the number on the scale hasn’t budged, especially when they are making progress in so many other areas. As trainers, we know that the scale is incredibly deceptive, especially when resistance training is first introduced. That evil little machine should not be the ‘be all and end all’ and certainly should NOT dictate your mood for the entire week.

Tip: Look at the other factors. Ok, so the scale didn’t budge, but do your clothes fit differently? Do you have increased energy levels or body confidence? And has your strength improved with visible muscle definition? If you answered yes to any of these you are winning that battle between you and those scales.


6. Google is not a reliable source of information!

As soon as you say, ‘I was looking on Google…’, or ‘I saw it on TV’, we will 9 times out of 10 disregard everything you proceed to say.

Tip: Do not believe everything you read on Google (unless it’s from a credible source) and what you see on an infomercial is not real. Certain brands and celebrity fitness ‘experts’ are eager to take advantage of people’s desire for the easy way to get fit and healthy. So they advertise expensive weight loss supplements and they design 7-minute workouts to hook you in. Guess what? If it is too good to be true… It is.


7. When you lie to us, you are actually only lying to yourself and we know the truth.

When you don’t lose or gain weight (whichever you are trying to do) and you say to us ‘I don’t understand why I am not losing or gaining weight, I am doing everything exactly as you told me.’ We know you are lying. The only person you are kidding about your eating habits is yourself. If you eat what we ask you to, and train when and how we have asked you to, you will get results.

Tip: Be honest if the nutrition plan we’ve outlined together is too strict and you’re not able to follow it, it’s better for us to know. We understand it can be tough to eat healthily. So tell us what foods you absolutely have to have, and we’ll find a way.


8. We can count.

The joke amongst my personal training clients is that I must’ve missed the day in “trainer school” when they taught how to count to 10. We use a number of repetitions as a guideline to gauge progress. If you can do more than 10…Great! That’s progress.

Tip: Embrace it, if we drag it out, or add repetitions it’s because you are doing well and surprising us.


9. You annoy us and other members when you do not complete exercises properly.

When we are completing an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible), or AQAP (As Quick As Possible) it annoys us and other members when you do not use good form and complete each exercise fully.

Tip: To maximise your gains and benefit from a session you will always be better to complete exercises fully using the whole range of motion. If you will be a long way behind, who cares, you will have the respect of the trainer and the whole class if you are doing exercises correctly.


10. When we say ‘take a break, grab some water.’

We are actually worried someone in the class is about to collapse and die, please bear with us whilst we check they still have a pulse.

Tip: Enjoy the break and get ready to smash the next round.