As with any profession, there are misconceptions and misperceptions of what it’s like to actually be a professional in a specific field. It’s easy to hear about a profession or a job and develop a story about what being in that role entails – everything from daily schedules to salary to the ease with which a job is done. The profession and practice of personal training is no exception and no stranger to stereotypical ideologies. Here are six personal training myths I hear most often about this profession.
Personal Training Myth 1: It’s glamorous.
No. It’s not glamorous. You know what it is – uniquely challenging, but rewarding. It’s not about glamor or physique – it’s about changing lives for the better and helping those we serve to live their best life by improving biometrics, body composition, energy levels, sleep patterns, nutritional intake, and social connectedness. If anything, it’s about making our clients feel good about themselves and the lives they are living and helping them develop a level of self-efficacy that allows them to no longer need us in the same way.
Personal Training Myth 2: It’s a science.
Yes, personal training is rooted in scientific principles, concepts, and theories. But, as a profession, it is an artful practice. It requires as much creativity as it does a sophisticated understanding of training variables and how to manipulate those variables in such a way that the client achieves their intended goals. It also requires soft skills such as the talent to build rapport, strong interpersonal communication skills, and supporting and encouraging behavior change through motivational interviewing and empathy.
Personal Training Myth 3: You can make your own schedule.
A personal trainer’s schedule is developed based on clients’ needs, availability, and preferences. It’s possible for a personal trainer to have an early morning session and then mid-morning and then noon and later afternoon. It all depends on the demographic they serve and the geographical area they live within. As a personal trainer’s business grows and thrives, they have more autonomy to set specific hours of availability. Starting out, however, it’s difficult to be successful by limiting to hours convenient for you.
Personal Training Myth 4: It requires a shredded physique.
This may be the most pervasive personal training myths. Nobody and no body is “perfect”. We need to normalize and emphasize what is healthy – not what society encourages us to believe is the “way to look” to be successful. A personal trainer’s physique is not an objective criterion by which to measure their effectiveness. Yes, a personal trainer should be fit, healthy, and practice what they promote. However, they do not need to fit some “ideal” because that is the stereotype. If you spend any time at fitness conferences, you will see a variety of shapes and sizes in those who are fitness pros. It’s what gives our industry diversity and it is also what encourages clients to love who they are for reasons unrelated to physical characteristics.
Personal Training Myth 5: It’s just about fitness and exercise.
While personal trainers help clients develop and achieve specific health, fitness, and/or performance-related goals, what they teach is far more than fitness and movement. Personal training is ultimately about helping clients find a balance in their lives between joyful movements, sound nutritional practices, social connectedness, sleep, and stress management.
Personal Training Myth 6: A client’s workout is the most important.
Wrong. The way a client feels about their workout is far more important than the workout itself. Does the client enjoy it? Does it align with their intended goals? Does it include activities that mirror their skills and abilities? Does it offer variety and meaningful challenges? Overall, the way a client perceives their workout will determine their adherence to it. Additionally, the way the client feels, in general, about their overall wellness is what matters the most.
Misperceptions about every profession, job, and career are not uncommon, and personal training myths may persist even after being dispelled. Unlike the perception, a personal trainer – an effective, certified, and educated professional – is not a hard-body, myopically-focused, glamour-seeking individual. Those personal trainers who pursue this field recognize that doing so presents an opportunity to help clients make meaningful and impactful changes that ultimately enrich their lives in healthy, balanced ways.