Gone are the days when a personal trainer (PT) was out of bounds for the common man. Personal trainers were few and their fees unaffordable. None but celebrities, film stars and the elite hired personal trainers.
With the common man gaining awareness of the deep correlation of exercise to health, choosing a personal trainer is no longer limited to the domain of the upper crust.
How is a PT different from the trainers available at the gym? General trainers are responsible for the zone (the work area) they are allotted. They take care of the members working out in that space. For e.g. the trainer in the “Legs” section will assist a member to adjust the backrest of a leg curl machine. After which she may move towards the Power Cage to help another member correct his stance for squats. The member doing the leg curl will move on to the next exercise, but may not receive the attention of the general trainer.
The PT can be booked for a slot of 60 minutes to be at the disposal of the client. The dedicated one hour adds value to the member. Not only does the member learn to do the exercise in good form and technique, but is encouraged to push the limits he has assumed for himself. In that sense, he begins to leave his comfort zone. It’s a beautiful partnership where goals and timelines are set in a collaborative way. Commitment and discipline are intrinsic in this relationship and is sealed by payment made in advance.
The Personal Trainer is responsible for guiding people that are confused on what to do for their fitness regime. They support behavior modification of their clients and help people to achieve their goals by improving different actions necessary for it. These are big changes in a person’s life having positive implications on health and quality of life. For e.g. making aware the importance of drinking water at good time intervals instead of waiting for thirst signals.
A good PT must have a love of helping people. A skill that separates the good PT from the mediocre is the confidence to challenge clients in an empowering way. She will never use embarrassment and humiliation as teaching tools. Knowledge and understanding of the human body and how it works forms the foundation of a good personal trainer. The ability to discern what is universally applicable to all and what constitutes the law of individual differences is the hallmark of her high quality.
The ideal PT walks the talk by striving to push her own limits in strength, stamina and suppleness.
The personal trainer can be likened to a coach. And a good coach helps the client discover her potential within herself. The coach is tuned in to her current fitness levels. The very best coaches get their clients to believe in themselves. With his good communication skills, the coach has the ability to quickly bond with clients from different backgrounds and capabilities. His ability to inspire and motivate clients to achieve goals and that too with consistency makes all the difference. In that sense, a personal trainer is like a life teacher.
In the words of Elaine MacDonald, “A life coach does for the rest of your life, what a personal trainer does for your health and fitness”.
– LATA RAJAN
Senior Faculty, Exercise Science