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What It Takes To Make REAL Personal Training Transformations

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As great a networker as social media is, there’s so many things I dislike about it. Transformations are great and everyone loves a one. What gets lost in translation is the actual definition of transformation.

When we hire a personal trainer we think of ‘getting in shape’; we think visual. Aesthetics. Leanness. Wow factor. It’s almost an unwritten rule nowadays that a personal trainer is literally a fat stripper and muscle builder. Other facets like improving movement/mobility, eliminating/reducing pain and installing a person with lifelong healthy habits/confidence seem to tales of years gone by.

How did this come about?

Going back to my opening sentence, we look on social media and we’re SPAMMED with so-called progress photos where girls have grown an extra butt and guys have now got girls throwing themselves at them, thanks to building muscle and losing fat almost overnight. We love that shit because it suits our dwindling attention spans. We don’t have to read anything or even watch a video that stops us scrolling for an extra 20 seconds.

These ‘transformations’ get associated with fitness…..and we wonder why there’s such a strong negative body image culture in our world? Implants and cosmetics get mistaken for hardcore leg days and steroids get mistaken for eating clean and training hard.

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( – another example of what’s possible with the right tricks. 

Alas, the lack of educational standards within the fitness industry allow anyone to parade around as a ‘qualified trainer’, without having the expertise needed to truly make a difference in people’s lives – especially those in real need.

To be successful as a personal trainer, you not only need to know the right exercises or guide someone to a breathtaking set of 8 week before and after photos, you need to be able to problem solve, provide answers, think on your feet, make people feel comfortable enough to do something they really don’t want to do, and you need to directly and indirectly improve their quality of life.

When aesthetics don’t mean sh*t

When you work with the older population you realise the deeper meaning of exercise. Exercise to an older person isn’t about looking good when they’re on holiday or getting likes on facebook, or improving their swipe right ratio on tinder. They turn to exercise to relieve themselves of pain, to carry on playing a sport they love, or to offset any health risks.

Simply reading a level 3 personal training manual and learning some machine exercises doesn’t instil someone with the capacity to help these people. On social media personal training is glamorised as a beach body creating service and not much else. It seems like the easy option. You like the gym? You’re in Ok shape? Be a PT. Just get everyone doing what you did, your way is fool proof.

The reality is: if you want to make a living as a personal trainer you need to take on a wide spectrum of clients. This is even more true for those starting out. How can you specialise if you can’t even do the basics? This sea of experience is what you draw from when you have clients who aren’t feeling the exercise in the right place or can’t activate the right muscles, despite your perfect cues. It’s what you use when they tell you they don’t want to do any more today but you’ve got 15 minutes of the session left; how do you get them wanting to do another 15 minutes; how do you get them to change their mind? 

Real Testimonials

As much as we are addicted to what we see nowadays, how many of these so called transformations are even real, let alone achieved in the time frame claimed? With the advancement of editing software, anything is possible. In the video below you see ‘mattdoesfitness’ showing us how easy it is to make an 8 week transformation in a matter of minutes…..if you know what you’re doing and are canny.

Ah but crash dieting, you’ll say! What about the juice diets where women lose 5lbs+ each week…..for 4 weeks…..but what happens AFTER?? Instagram, Facebook and the magazines won’t tell you how the women in question ended up back to their starting weight, or higher in some cases!

What’s my point?

There’s ALWAYS more to a genuine testimonial than a pic taken 8 weeks ago and a pic taken supposedly yesterday. Of course we all want to look good naked. Looks matter. But beyond a certain point exercise goes deeper. I have a client, John, who has had shoulder surgery and recovered from kidney cancer. He came to me looking to improve range of motion on a shoulder with metal rods in it and riddled with pain – so much so he was living on pain killers just to get an honest night’s sleep……

Gradually we worked on his posture and activating his upper back muscles and gently using what little range of motion we had available at his shoulder. Over 9 months on and John has more range available, is stronger and most importantly, can sleep without pain and has been doing for months. Hearing he felt every penny he’s spent has been worth it was one of them moments where you’re reminded how big an impact fitness, exercise and movement has on the world we live in and the lives of all of us.

I also educated John on the premise of progressive overload, how to structure weekly training, what to do to get past plateaus and am always there if he needs any general support/advice.

Good personal trainers have a multi faceted skill-set. They can get you aesthetics, strength, stamina, better mobility, free of pain, living healthier and most importantly, feeling better.

If you need help with your fitness goals, irrespective of their complexity, shoot me an email: I can help you.

For help with deciding if a personal trainer is right for you, check this post: THE PERSONAL TRAINER TEST – HOW DOES YOURS FARE?

JR @ Straight-Talking-Fitness View All

The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.

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