Fitness & Wellness

The Role Of Your Personal Trainer

By August 16, 2019 No Comments

Your pants are getting harder to button.

Your dress takes a bit more muscle to zip up.

Knees are getting cranky…

…and your mom, ugh…

She’s chiming in too…

Time to get serious. Starting Tomorrow…

Cut carbs. Check.
Cut alcohol. Check
Walk during lunch. Check
No food after 7. Check
Tell everyone on Facebook. Check

3 Days later…

…F’ this…

Desperate Facebook Post:
“Anyone have recommendations for a good personal trainer? I need my ass kicked”

Why is it people feel they need to be punished for not adhering to the ridiculous rules they made for themselves?

It probably all goes back to some deep seeded childhood issues, but we’ll just leave it at…

People are crazy.

In case no one has told you this, you don’t need someone to beat you into the ground. You need someone to work WITH you, help you get some momentum, some wins, and develop a plan (nutrition and exercise) that works for YOU.

No, not the 23 year old instagram “influencer” you follow.

Not the professional athlete that gets paid to be in shape.

Not the actress that only drinks orange juice…

Not even your “girl friend” at work who acts like they wanna help but really she just wants to see you suffer through her most grueling workouts in an attempt to make her feel better about herself…

…That’s her childhood issue…

We all got ‘em. Issues that is…

I used to despise the term Personal Trainer. I know a lot of people in the fitness industry still do.

Doubt me?

Ask them “Are you a personal trainer?”

“No! I’m a Strength Coach.”

It’s a way to distinguish. It’s a way of saying I’m better. I’m smarter. I’m a professional damn it!

Then they’ll say something like…

“Trainers get lions to jump through rings of fire.”

“Coaches get people from where the are to where they want to be.”

Valid point, but semantics aside, the most important word is not coach or trainer…

It’s…
…wait for it…

PERSONAL!

So what exactly makes training personal?

Does your favorite fight song cue up the moment you walk in the gym?

Cuz if it does that’s awesome! And if you know how to make that happen shoot me a DM. I’ve been wanting to do this for years.

But it’s not what makes training personal.

Most personal trainers don’t even know…

You see, in an attempt to be taken more seriously in a widely unregulated field, trainers have been on an unrelenting quest for knowledge. I’ve witnessed it over the past decade. You’ve got some trainers running around today as educated as medical doctors.

Hell I found myself going down the rabbit hole many times, late nights pouring over pub med studies, early mornings reading a 500 page medical text book on the shoulder.

And it’s not a bad thing, IF your trainer understands the X’s and O’s are only half the puzzle. The easy half…

A great coach / trainer should be like a great tour guide. They know the best route to get you from where you are to where you want to be, BUT they also know it’s necessary to veer off the main route once in awhile, see a hidden gem, a little known spot, a local attraction ie give a better experience…

Personal training is about psychology first. We need to understand where you’re starting and where your motivation lies.

How do we do this? By understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

If a person is intrinsically motivated and they’re training with us it’s because they realize we do this for a living and we can put together the best plan for them. They like training. They find it fun, but they know hiring and expert is smarter.

I’d estimate 25% of the people we have the pleasure of working with fall into this category – intrinsically motivated

The rest fall somewhere on the extrinsically motivated continuum, defined by Deci and Ryan as the Organismic Integration Theory (OIT).

OIT describes four different types of extrinsic motivation

* Externally regulated behavior
* Introjected regulation of behavior
* Regulation through identification
* Integrated regulation

If we were to add two end caps to our list they’d be “amotivation” on one end and “intrinsic motivation” on the other.

Each phase of the continuum is more autonomously driven than the one before it.

But how do we figure out where you are?

One simple question…

“Why are you here?“

An answer like “my doctor is making me” = Externally regulated behavior

Something like “I feel guilt or shame” = Introjected regulation of behavior

“I want to be healthier” = Regulation through identification

“It’s who I am” = Integrated regulation

“It’s fun” = Intrinsic

Can you spot the problem with most trainers and most gyms?

They’re using incentives and rewards, things like cash or vacations for winning weight loss challenges, transformation challenges etc.

And who does this attract?

…The least intrinsically motivated people…

And who does it help?

No one.

The ones drawn to this are the ones most likely to go back to their old ways once the reward is taken away.

And unfortunately those gyms rarely do anything to move these amotivational people up the continuum to better serve them long term. They’re just handed a template; do this, don’t eat that, and…

….We’ll measure you again in 6 weeks.

Lose 20lbs and we’ll give you a couple hundred dollars…

Not a good tour guide…

Not a good experience…

In part 2 we’ll go over the methods we use at Underground Athlete to encourage autonomy and move people up the extrinsic motivation ladder…

Until then…

…Here’s one of those methods in action – a picture of a member dumping water on me during one of our outdoor workouts

Leave a Reply