Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pet Peeves

Lots of things bug me. I get annoyed by little things pretty easily. As long as something doesn't affect me personally, I can usually let them roll off my back. What you eat doesn't make me shit, right? No harm, no foul. I suppose now is as good a time as any for me to get some things that bug me about the industry off my chest.

1) When a personal trainer doesn't know the name of an exercise.
Happens all the time, unfortunately. I understand that there are a LOT of exercises and some of them go by several names. However, I sincerely feel that if you don't know the name of an exercise the you don't know it well enough to be coaching a client through it. Even if you don't know the "proper" name, you should know enough to be able to create a name. You may not know what a "cable woodchopper" is, but you should have enough education about anatomical positions and planes of motion to be able to call it a "cable trunk/oblique twist" and have another fitness professional understand what it is. (I won't even get into the fact that you shouldn't be doing cable chops anyway.)

2) When a trainer progresses a client to a new variation that they can't do.
What good is doing a hands and feet elevated pushup if your client can't even do a regular pushup with their chest on the ground? Why bother doing a single leg squat off of a box if the client can barely do a passable goblet squat? Stick to the basics; your client is going to get more out of doing a simple exercise correctly. Why would a trainer progress someone too quickly? Personally, I think it happens when the trainer doesn't believe enough in their own ability and their own programming. Have faith that what you're doing is working, you don't need to impress the client with fancy tricks.

3) When a trainer lets the client get away with horseshit form.
Hey trainer, do you do quarter squats? Half pushups? Does your chin get over the bar on pullups? I bet it does. So why not ask of your clients what you ask of yourself? Don't let your client get away with shitty form just so they can add a few pounds to the bar or do a few more reps; their self-esteem would get a better boost by being able to do the exercise correctly. This usually occurs when a trainer is either too lazy to fix it, or isn't confident enough in their ability to correct the faulty movement pattern. Either way, the client suffers and the trainer ends up looking like a wiener.

4) When a trainer uses their phone during a session.
This one is inexcusable. Come on, man. Really? Texting during a session? That's just bush league. Chances are that if you're the guy texting during a session your clients are also doing quarter squats on a Bosu ball. Get out of my gym and out of my industry, please. Thanks.

5) When a trainer lacks the basic programming ability to make someone an effective workout.
I get it, a little. Programming is a skill that takes a long time to hone. I've gotten ok at it, but I'm still far from great. I've saved almost every program I've ever written so that I can go back and re-read some of the early ones. Holy dogshit, Batman! Talk about crap! I kept at it, and got better though. I understand that not all trainers are proficient at programming, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be proficient at writing out a well-balanced workout for your clients. If you work with someone once per week, doing a chest hypertrophy workout isn't the best use of your time. Do a full body workout. Break it down into the basic human movement patterns: squat, hip hinge, push, pull and carry. Hit all of these movements and you'll at least have a balanced workout.

6) When a trainer trains themselves differently than their clients.
What, are you scared it's going to be too hard for them? Scale it back. No one says they have to squat 135 on their first day out. If you believe that compound lifts and sprints are the key to your own success, then why wouldn't that be the best way to train your clients? If you love to deadlift, get your clients deadlifting. If you know how to utilize a bodybuilder split in the most effective way possible, impress that knowledge upon your clients. If you do CrossFit on your own time, why not introduce the same style to your clients? Do a big compound strength exercise and then follow it up with some metabolic conditioning. Why train yourself one way, and then go do the Cybex Circuit with your clients? If you believe in something, teach it to your clients. They will appreciate the passion you bring along with that information.

You can now consider this mini-rant closed for the moment. I know that I'm not the best trainer out there, and that I have a long way to go, but being aware of these faux pas makes me a cut above the rest. Hopefully your trainer doesn't do any of these, or you don't recognize this as something you do with your clients. If it is, then hopefully my tips as to how to prevent/change it will be useful. The health/fitness/strength industry is something that I truly love and am passionate about; I hate to see it bastardized by people who just want to make a buck. Have a good day, folks. Go lift something heavy!

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