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Trainer or Teacher?

I hate the phrase "personal trainer." It brings bad images to mind of some idiot in short shorts and a tank-top, watching himself in the mirror while his client, a 40yr old, overweight soccer mom, does biceps curls in the corner of the gym. These "trainers" give a bad image to the industry, and they don't teach people anything! Which brings me to my topic, trainer or teacher?

A while ago I wrote an entry titled "Working Yourself Out of a Job" in which I discussed the importance of engraving the basic tools and values of fitness in your clients' heads so that they can go out and do what they have to do, on their own, without depending on you. Look, Mom! No more training wheels!

I think this is one of the most important parts of this industry, and unfortunately, one of the most misunderstood. We aren't trainers. We educate. We are teachers. Trainers are people that teach your dog to stop taking a shit on your carpet. teachers mold a person. They help individuals develop the skills and confidence the need to make descisions on their own later in life.

We live in a society that is constantly losing the battle with obesity – a society that is almost completely sedentary. We, as fitness professionals need to step up, stop training, and start educating! I take every opportunity I can to teach my clients about setting up their training and cardio programs, explain to them why we do things in the gym a certain way and show them how to make healthy food/lifestyle choices.

This doesn't have to be done in the one-on-one setting. Health education classes can be extremely popular for reaching a larger segment of the population. A "class" setting has the potential to reach those who might otherwise be turned off at the thought of meeting a trainer at the gym for fear of having someone give them a hard sell (God, I hate that), or someone who may be afraid to go to the gym at all because they think, "There are people that are in really great shape there, and they will make fun of me..." Even the ones who go to the gym, but don't know what to do and just hop on the treadmill day after day, not knowing what else to do with it all.

Don't think about being just a trainer. Make the move to being an educator. Your clients will thank you for it, and you will impact a heck of a lot more people in the long run!

Happy Memorial Day,

Patrick