The Role of a Personal Trainer

I once asked a trainer what he was trying to accomplish with his clients. He said, “I'm there to get them stronger and to improve their health.” I told him I didn't need him for that. I can buy running shoes and head out the door. I can go to gym and pick up weights. He countered that he was there to teach clients how to exercise correctly. I came back with the fact that anyone can go to the bookstore and buy any number of books on how to do it correctly.

I don't know what the role of a trainer is in other systems or gyms. There are several ways of approaching it. My thoughts on the subject have been shaped by my interactions with clients. A client once told me I come here to get a workout I could not get on my own. She said, “If I can do it on my own I don't need you anymore”. That really stuck with me.

I had another client whom I told, “You know you could figure this out on your own”. She replied, “I have two businesses and three kids. I pay you to figure it out for me”.

I think both are correct.

We have about hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment at each of ourAustin Personal Trainers and New Orleans Fitness Training locations. It is mostly medical rehab equipment. You're unlikely to find it in most gyms. It is difficult to set up properly compared to others types of equipment.

Our new trainers intern as long as six months on this equipment and practice on their friends and family. When they are ready hopefully they offer something that is valuable to the client.

Their goal is to safely put the client through a workout that produces positive results. How is that done? To produce change one must exercise beyond the point of what one is used to handling. A skillful trainer will get the client to go beyond where they would normally stop, get them there safely, and get them there without any undo panic.

That is easier said than done. A trainer must be in the same moment as a client. The trainer must know what the client is going through in order to get them to go to the next level, and again let me stress, without panic. To do that the client must totally trust the trainer not to make excessive unreasonable demands but sufficient demands that will produce positive change. Once the trainer and the trainee have that connection the client looks forward to coming in even for a difficult workout. If one is expected torun the gauntlet there will be panic even before the session starts.

Giving them a workout they could not get on their own is one part of it, but what about the ongoing week-to-week proposition? A good trainer will have an intimate understanding of the client’s recovery ability, what their physical limitations are, and what their pain thresholds are, and how to work them through it. They will adjust the workout each week to produce ongoing improvement that will go on for at least couple of years. Doing this on one's own would likely take years of trial and error, injury, and most of all inconsistency. Very few consistently stick with an exercise program.

A note on panic: I am often pressed for time and workout when I have the time. When I do exercise by myself I pre-set all the machines, write up the workout even recording the times and amount of reps I will get before I begin. I place the bar high. I also put tremendous pressure on myself not to cut corners. Man, I hate my solo workouts.

With a trainer I totally trust I don’t worry about what is coming next. I have no concern for times, weights, reps number of exercises, or the order of those exercises. I close my eyes, and execute every instruction. He makes me aware of proper breathing and breaks in form. He throws me curves to get a little more out of me; I don’t know what to expect next. He guides me to a difficult finish without all the panic.

Am I getting a better workout? I have an objective measure that shows that I am. After a good HIIT workout your blood pressure will remain lower for several hours. I take my blood pressure a few hours after each workout, and as a rule it is lower. After a workout with a knowledgable trainer my blood pressure will be much lower. I know systemically my body took a bigger hit. I am definitely getting a much better workout and without the panic – that is the thing that makes me look forward to the next session.