Why I Became A Personal Trainer

The game starts and immediately he springs into action, running around like a madman, diving about the place, risking life and limb for his team and getting really annoyed at his teammates who don’t seem to be doing the same. Meanwhile, 5 girls huddle up in a corner and refuse to go out despite being hit with the ball numerous times so they can spend more time talking about that cute boy in their class. That super sporty girl who has just put 3 opponents out with 1 throw. Finally, there are those who there for a laugh – trying to put people off, putting people out in the most elaborate way possible, pulling out some dancefloor-worthy moves in order to dodge the ball, trying to score a basket and stuffing the ball up their top and pretending to be pregnant instead of playing the game.

If you haven’t guessed already I’m describing a standard high school PE class playing Dodgeball. You can probably relate yourself in one of these 4 examples. For me, I was that annoying boy who treated all PE classes like they were the Olympic Games. It’s always been apparent that I’ve had a passion for Sport and Fitness from a young age and I’ve been one of those lucky people who’s always had an idea of which industry I wanted to end up in. However, that’s not to say I’ve always wanted to be a PT…

My Journey So Far…
The desire I had took me down to Edinburgh Napier University to study Sport and Exercise Science. The plan had been to study SES and then do my teacher training in order to become a PE Teacher. However that desire gradually faded as I began coaching kids (football) and became more involved in children’s sport and activities. Although I enjoyed it to an extent, I found that working with adults was more satisfying and enjoyable. I then floated between a few career ideas – physiotherapy, physiologist and even ditching the Fitness industry altogether. I have always had a desire to continually learn and enjoy finding out more about the human body and training. I grew disinterested at University as I did not feel hugely challenged by the course despite learning a lot in my first year of university. I found the following 2 years far less engaging and this is why I moved into a completely different industry. I became a labourer for 1 year and moved away from Edinburgh. That time out help me to think about where my true passions lay and helped me decide which road to go down. I spent a lot of my time outside of work creating training programmes for myself, some friends and family. I became the go-to whenever any of them had any questions relating to fitness or exercise. I also began training my cousin on a 1-to-1 basis down on the local beach – focusing on plyometric and speed training. The sand provided resistance for sprint work and the rocks were our boxes for box and depth jumps. My cousin improved massively through the regular training, to the point that his standing broad jump surpassed mine! My siblings also followed a training programme I had devised for them and all posted best times at The Mighty Deerstalker – a cross-country 10 mile night race. Seeing people improve their best time or improve their physical attributes gave me tremendous satisfaction. It became very clear to me that, although I enjoyed the labouring, it was secondary to my passion for fitness and very much enjoyed the 1-on-1 training and training programme design. That’s when I decided to become a PT and consequently completed my Diploma in Gym Instructing and Personal Training through Diverse Trainers. Last November, I started my first Personal Training job at Nuffield Health in Edinburgh.

What I’ve learned since becoming a Personal Trainer..

Although I have only been in this role for 9 months, I have certainly learned a lot already!

1) Seeing people’s quality of life improve is the greatest feeling 
With some individuals their journey may be a hard and long, with others less so, but to be with them every step of the way, no matter how long, is an absolute privilege. The sense of achievement that my client’s feel when they hit their goals or see improvement is plain to see. This is a feeling you want them to have time and time again as it fills them with a real sense of achievement and motivates them to continue smashing their targets. It really is a nice feeling for both yourself and for them knowing that their quality of life has improved as result of their training. Seeing how far my clients have progress from their very first session to now gives me a lot of satisfaction – many of my clients are now performing certain exercises or lifting certain weight that never dreamt that they would ever manage.

When they do hit their goals, give them the praise they deserve. I don’t really enjoy receiving praise that comes my way when one of my clients hit their targets. I have merely provided the tools to get them there, they are the ones that have put in all the hard work and hours of dedication inside and outside of the gym deserve every ounce of praise.

2) Keep it simple!
There is a temptation to over complicate your clients training. You’re the PT, you want to make an impression when you first start, I get that. However, extremely complex programming with hard-to-master exercises can be off-putting for clients, especially those clients who have no or little previous gym experience.

I’m not saying that there isn’t place for more advanced programming, however, I feel it’s important to ensure gradual progression with client’s training. Start with the basics and as time goes on and they become more confident and competent in the gym, you can gradually bring in more advanced training methods and exercises.

3) Motivation is everything
This is directly linked to the above point. If the programme is too complex for the individual to the point that they continually fail, it is unlikely that they will find enjoyment in it. Similarly, look for the exercises that they enjoy and limit specific exercises that they don’t enjoy, if possible. Training should be fun and enjoyable as this will have a direct impact on your client’s adherence to their training. They are far more likely to be motivated and stick to their training if their training is something they are looking forward to rather than the gym being a place that fills them with dread.

4) I have so much more to learn
Without sounding big-headed, I feel like I am fairly knowledgeable when it comes to training – after all, I have studied it for many years now. However, despite this, there have been numerous times where I have been asked a fitness related question to which I just don’t know the answer to or don’t know how to answer. Be genuinely honest and tell you’re client that you don’t know the answer but be willing to go and find out the answer for them. Come back with the answer next time, send them an article on the topic or write a blog post on it for them to read. And next time somebody asks you the same question, you will already know the answer.

Be willing to spend time reading.
How much of our day do we spend scrolling through our social media feeds? Utilise your time and make space to read fairly regularly. Buy fitness related books and work through them. Personally, I dislike reading and get distracted very easy but I can see the importance in it so therefore ensure I do it as regularly as possible. Knowledge is power.

5) Put your client’s first
Talk less, listen more. Often we want to impress our clients with our knowledge but often we need to shut up more and really listen to what they say. It’s advice I know I need to take on board too. I talk too much and need to listen more.
Really listen to your client. It’s easy for your clients to mask the true emotional reasons behind why they have started training. “I want to lose body fat” or “I want to tone”.. well, why? Why do you want to lose body weight? Why do you want to tone? Try and find the true reasons behind these goals. It’s often difficult to get the true motives out but listening attentively to what they say and how they act will help to give you an idea.

Also, ask them how they are feeling how their training is going. What are they enjoying? What do they dislike? Anything they’d like to focus on more? How motivated are they feeling? Do they feel more confident now? Do they have any fears or worries? Unhappy with anything? Take on board everything they tell you and adjust accordingly.

6) Give them homework
As kids, homework was something was dreaded and often eaten by the dog. However, giving your client’s homework ensures that they come back to the gym to complete their homework. This is very useful with those clients who you are aware are not coming in to train outwith of their PT sessions. By giving them homework, you can check up on their work and ask how they got on with the it making them more accountable and ensuring they are putting the work in.

Something as simple as “come in once this week and practice your deadlift for 20 minutes this week” or giving them a basic fitness challenge to complete during the week, will suffice. If you really want to monitor their activity and ensure they are completing their homework you could even ask them to video themselves completing their given task.

My Vision….
So what are my plans for the coming years? Well as you’ve read earlier my career aspirations tend to change quickly. However, I would like to concentrate on gaining experience as a PT and establish myself a quality PT at my current club over the coming years before potentially moving on to Physiology. I have a real passion for the human body, it really does fascinate me and would love to become an exercise physiologist where my role would involve exercise testing in order to best improve individuals health and fitness.

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