Last night on SBS, Insight had an episode titled No Pain, No Gain. It was an interesting debate, I still don’t know where I stand with most of what was said, so I can only wonder what others who aren’t in the industry can make of it all.
If you missed it, here it is. It goes for nearly an hour all up, so get yourself cosy if you plan on watching the whole thing.
No Pain No Gain
Now I have strong opinions on the fitness industry and I will make them in another entry soon, but for now I just want to address a few things that were mentioned in the show and how they relate to me, because realistically I am the one who is taking care of your fitness, so I want you to know where you stand.
They mention education. They constantly mention this 8 week course to get qualified. When I got qualified in 1999, I did a face to face part time course over the course of about 6 months. I then had to do a 3 month case study on a real person. I had to do every aspect of training this person from the assessment to the programming to the personal training. This makes 9 months all up to get a cert 3. In 2002, we got told the cert 4 was soon to be compulsory, so I started my cert 4 by correspondence, it took me the better part of a year to get through the 6 workbooks thoroughly. Bear in mind I had been full time personal training for 2 years by this stage.
Now, you can go in and in 8 weeks, you have your cert 3 and cert 4 without any experience or ever training a real life client. You are then left to fend for yourself.
They mention registration. The industry is self regulated apparently. You don’t need any qualifications to call yourself a personal trainer and start training people. Whilst this is true, they won’t be able to attain any insurance, so it is a risky game to play. I say that the individual must do their research to make sure their trainer has qualifications, registration and experience.
I currently hold level 3 advanced registration with Fitness Australia. This is the highest level of registration they currently provide.
They mention that the average life span for a personal trainer is 18 months. They say it is a demanding job with early starts and unusual working hours. I say there are way too many trainers getting qualified, you only have to turn on the radio to hear an ad to become a personal trainer, it’s touted as a great way to work your way through university. This puts a whole bunch of people who aren’t really passionate about their career out there and with this many trainers out there, there are not enough clients and so it is not financially beneficial, so they go and find another job.
But this is not the only reason, people see it as a hobby job. They love fitness, so they think why not make a living out of it? Unfortunately, enjoying fitness and having the desire & skills to help others are 2 very different things. They soon find that out.
But, it doesn’t stop there, there is generally a lack of respect for the payment of trainers from clients. Everyone needs to realise that this is a career, not a hobby. When you cancel a session that won’t be paid for, think of how you would feel if your boss rang you and said don’t bother coming in today, I won’t be paying you.
I am proud to say that I have been in the game for over 10 years now. I have faced the same financial problems others have faced over the years, but I love helping others reach their goals and this is what keeps me going. I do take it personally when someone doesn’t make it all the way and I know I shouldn’t, because it has to be a personal decision to change your life for the better, but I do really care about everyone who wants to make that change and I will do my all to make it happen.
They mention working beyond your knowledge or qualifications. I think this is a major problem. I am not a physio, so I don’t diagnose injuries, I refer them on. I am not a kids exercise specialist, so I refer kids on. I am not a pre and post natal specialist, so unless it is a long time client who I know well, I will refer them on. I will keep my long term clients because I am well aware of their past exercise experience and capabilities. I am experienced in pre and post natal and have done several short course, but hold no specific qualification, so I can do the training, but I would be better not to without the relevant qualifications. If someone came to me with a serious illness, I would need to refer it on.
They mention training to breaking point. I train everybody hard. I don’t train anybody beyond their threshold. What one of the main problems is that a lot people aren’t aware of what they are capable of. They often quit too early or have the wrong mindset when entering into something. I think I am very reasonable, I have achieved some great results for those who are willing to put the effort in. Generally those people who don’t put the effort are the ones who won’t get those results and will move onto the next big thing that will work for them (not). I don’t push to that breaking point, I try to get near it, but if anyone disagrees, please add it to the forum so we can address it. New people are always encouraged to start off slow and build up, unfortunately, competitiveness usually takes over and they work beyond their means, which can result in some pretty bad delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
There was mention of trainers working the clients too hard unnecessarily. Is it unnecessary? I question the results of the trainers that say that? I know that a lot of trainers are useless. They give their clients the most pathetic training sessions and then wonder why their clients don’t get results. There was video of a trainer who’s clients weren’t lunging properly. Thankfully, i always try to drill you guys with technique, but sometimes people just don’t listen no matter how many verbal or physical cues you give them. Now at the end of the day, if the guy in the video wasn’t bending his leg properly, what harm was he doing, she said he wasn’t activating his glutes like he should have been. Well he was activating them more than if he was laying in bed. The big picture is that we need to get everybody out moving regularly. Technique is vital, but there has to be a balance between the nay sayers and those who really want to work hard.
They mention trainers causing injuries. This may happen sometimes, when you do see really bad technique and yes they are right, there are some bad trainers around, but what will generally cause an injury is everything the client is doing outside of the training session. When an injury occurs, it is the straw that broke the camels back. If you take a group training session for example. You have 10 people doing the exact same thing and with good technique, yet 1 person can get an injury. Why is it so? It is something that has been building up over time, poor posture whilst sitting and standing, repetitive movements at work, picking things up incorrectly etc. You then go ahead and do a few exercises and bang the shoulder or the knee or the back goes. It didn’t go from a perfect joint to an injured joint in 10 seconds, it went from a good joint as a child and over the years it has deteriorated without any knowledge of it doing so and then you do something completely different and the injury presents itself.
In the comments, I see statements about choosing an exercise physiologist as your trainer. I don’t believe you need a uni degree to be a great trainer, you do need more than 8 weeks. I think you should also have to do a certain time frame working for a gym, being paid by the gym to carry out professional supervised training sessions, instead of being dumped headfirst into the industry to fend for yourself. I started out in a large gym part time reception, part time gym instructor. It is good to get experience in a structured atmosphere. Unfortunately over the years, the industry has changed a great deal and if you can still find a gym where you are greeted by a gym instructor who is being paid by the gym and is not just talking to you so they can convert you into a client then you are a lucky person. There are no outlets for new trainers to gain that experience anymore. Instead they are put under pressure to get more clients so they can pay their rent or their “mentor”.
Please feel free to give me your feedback at the forum you know I love to hear what you have to say!