What a Trainer Can ( and Can’t!) Do

As I have mentioned several times, a trainer can make a huge difference. But just what does that mean? I will explain – but first let’s take a quick trip down memory lane(lol):

I started lifting in high school when i was recruited into an after school program by my gym teacher. He was interested in starting a lifting group focused on female students to compliment the already running male dominated program in place. Unfortunately the group only drew about 3 of us and was not elected to continue the following year. Hence, the teacher opened his own local gym and this was the very first gym i joined. Of course, since we only had regular cameras and polaroids back then , and i was only a teenager- i have no photos.

The first photo here is the very first gym i joined as an adult, at the ripe old age of 22, back in 1989- 4 years after the birth of my daughter and one month after leaving her(abusive) father.It was my way of redeveloping lost self confidence as well as putting out a big “F*ck You” to my ex.

80s hair..yikes!

I worked out off & on over the years and during my training with a trainer in 1997/98 i decided to become a personal trainer myself. Sometimes, i have to remind well- meaning people at the gym that i have in fact been a P.T. and understand more than they realize. Example: the “big” guy who goes around correcting peoples form or giving unsolicited advice to random gym goers , even though he is not an employee:

“Hey , girl ( as he comes up behind me and actually TOUCHES my both of my arms from the rear) straighten out those arms and focus on this muscle here. It’s called a bicep. Don’t worry about the rest of your arms.”Ugh.

Please don’t do this. You do not know who has what background, but even more so- unwanted touching and unsolicited advice is inappropriate.

So yes, i was a trainer for a while myself as evidenced by the the following:

exhibit A

Now you know my maiden name..lol

exhibit B

Note the expiration date

So , anyway- back to the topic of this post.

A trainer is someone who can and will do the following:

  • motivate you to get your butt in the gym
  • show you a variety of exercises tailored to your needs, including age, physical limitations and goals
  • show you how to use good form to get the most out of each exercise and to avoid injury
  • advise you on nutrition, expected progress, anatomy, supplements, and general health/fitness information
  • take weights off and put them on during your sessions – this is a huge plus as it helps you to save your energy for the actual work out. Additionally, it helps to avoid injury from unplanned and awkward movements. I personally would never hire a trainer who do not include this service.

What a trainer can’t do:

  • Physically drag you or make you get your butt to the gym . The choice is yours. Only you can get ready, drive there and walk in the door, ready to commit.
  • Make you do the work out. Again, it is your body and mind that has to do the work. If you whine and complain and do not put in your best efforts, then expect results that reflect this attitude.
  • Stop you from poor lifestyle choices, especially when they aren’t around. Even if you make it to all your sessions, and do the physical work- things like binge eating, drinking alcohol regularly, smoking ( i am guilty of this one) or indulging in recreational drugs will hinder your progress and this will show in your results.
  • Be your mom. She/He isn’t responsible for keeping you on track by calling and checking up on you everyday. This usually only occurs when you are paying for a daily coach during a contest prep, and only if it part of the contract(usually this is an online coach). Even then , you will have to weigh yourself, take the required photos to send to them, write down and follow the recommended daily food and exercise plan. It can and will change daily during a prep based on what he/she sees.

A lot has changed since i was a trainer. I wound up leaving the field after about 2 years due to increasing malpractice insurance requirements ( if you train someone in their home, at their gym or even in your own home as an private contractor, the premiums can kill you financially).I could have continued to work as an employee at some gyms i was with for a time but the pay was awful ( minimum wage)and generally unsatisfying as you were not allowed to charge extra to train individual members.

Additionally- advances in science, technology and nutritional / exercise research has expanded and pretty much exploded with the internet. Many trainers are not simply certified as i was, but have an actual college degree. The field has become so diverse and specialized, i would no longer even qualify to train others. That being said, i do keep up with my own research on a regular basis and always continue to learn and grow. My advice here in this blog is based purely on my own experience and should not take the pace of a qualified, currently licensed trainer.

If you are considering a trainer, be sure to check their credentials, experience, and references at the very least. Word of mouth is always best, in my opinion, as is the presentation of the person themselves ( do they look like, act like and present themselves as someone you would want to be like?). I would never feel comfortable and confident in a trainer who was obviously over weight, unhygienic, or had a negative / harsh/ belittling attitude.

Hope this was of value to someone. Thanks for reading!


nurse, mother, artist, and chameleon ...

3 thoughts on “What a Trainer Can ( and Can’t!) Do

    1. were these paid for trainers? or the ones who come with the gym membership? If they were the latter, theres the problem. When i was a trainer at a gym, i was being paid minimum wage to show new members the machines and set up a basic program for them .The individuals werent paying me and i couldnt charge any extra . Plus we were discouraged from making any changes to the “usual” program. On the other hand a paid trainer ( usually about $20-40 per session) will be more motivated to train someone with adept skill and individual focus because word of mouth is key and money talks.Some trainers require and up front retaining fee as well to cover the first several sessions since many tend to not show up after the first time or two.If none of this applies to you, best i can say is , like most things, its good to shop around before committing to something..or someone.Good trainers are usually tough to find without getting references.


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