Personal Training Isn’t Body Building…Well, Not Entirely - Coach Sharm


Take a look at the websites of personal trainers, and it’s pretty obvious how dedicated they are to their craft as shown by the hard muscles they display. These muscles are undoubtedly appealing, and they’re quite a sales tool as well. Nothing wrong with that. But what’s not right, however, is how some trainers in Singapore just assume that all their clients are seeking to build massive muscles too.

For a personal trainer, one of their duties is to identify just why a client has come to them for help. By identifying their reasons, a trainer can then set a realistic goal and implement the most appropriate methods to achieve it.

So how should a personal trainer view personal training?

Identifying goals. This is the foundation for what a personal trainer does for their client. If they want to build muscles, fine. But some just want to be healthy. Others want to lose weight and reduce their body fat. Others may even want to be fit enough for a sport they like to play.

Health over appearance. This is a basic underpinning of all responsible personal training. Health always comes first. If appearance is the highest priority, then the use of anabolic steroids for body building would have become standard practice. That its use is frowned upon just shows that there’s no point in endangering your health just to look pretty.

So when clients want a 6-pack, a trainer should really ask why. Maybe they think that 6-pack makes them stronger. If that’s the case, the client should be educated on the difference between actual healthy and strong bodies and bodies that just look impressive. One way to teach clients who want to be really strong is to show the pictures of the various participants in strongman competitions. They can pull trucks, yet virtually none of them has a 6-pack.

Implement the doable. It’s one thing to train fitness buffs and athletes, but it’s another to coach regular people who don’t have much time for exercise and for proper nutrition. Forget about complicated meal plans and eating six small meals a day. For regular office workers, that’s not practical.

Instead start with the basic facts. For beginners, it’s usually a very good idea to begin by educating them on how to include vegetables in their daily meals. Eating veggies is a fact of life for trainers, but you’d be surprised at how many people neglect to incorporate this into their diets. Then the trainer should also teach them where to get protein and carbs.

The same principle holds for exercises. Don’t go straight to the complicated stuff. Some beginners would benefit from learning how a pushup is properly done. Then you can move on to learning how to press, pull, and deadlift correctly.

Tell them why. Some trainers even go for that military style of training, where they scream at their clients like a parent that has reached their patience limit. That may work on TV or in the military, but in the real world it doesn’t. Most clients don’t appreciate such treatment, and they may even resent the fitness program.

Instead of making clients do things because they said so, trainers should actually take the time to give them the reasons for each element of the fitness program. Why should a particular food be eaten, and why should they cook it in a certain way? Why do you need to do a specific exercise? By educating the clients, trainers become partners with clients, and the clients can improve their lifestyle habits even while at home and at work.

Not all personal training is about building muscles, so trainers must endeavor to find out the reason for the client’s desire to join a fitness program. It’s time that trainers understand this now, before they teach their clients to hate all fitness programs entirely.

Coach Sharm, MSc

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