For those of us who are addicted to group fitness or personal training, a good trainer is a vital part of our workout success. We rely on their expertise on our journey to better health. Sometimes a trainer may seem a little mystical or at least unrelatable to mere humans as we stumble our way through challenging routines, new exercises, and seemingly unending repetitions. As a fitness trainer, I see this relationship from both the consumer and the provider side, so I am here to let you in on some secrets that trainers wish they could tell you.
We Aren’t Looking at You
At least, not in the way you worry about. We don’t care what brand of workout clothes you are wearing, although we may ask you where you got your supercute leggings. And please believe me, we don’t judge the size or shape anyone’s body. You don’t need to look like a fitness model to train with us, which is a good thing, because instructors come in all shapes and sizes too. We are all on the path together. The most important thing is not how any of us look but how working out makes us feel. Of course, physical transformation is a reasonable goal for putting in hard work, but hyperfocusing on appearance can distract you from the task at hand. Bottom line: we aren’t mentally measuring whether your thighs are shrinking, so you shouldn’t be either.
We Aren’t Judging Your Level of Fitness
If you are attending a group exercise class, we are watching the entire room. Our job is to take note of everyone’s participation level and adjust our teaching in a holistic fashion. Our main concern is making sure your workout is safe and effective. We even may offer modifications during class to ensure your success and safety. We frankly don’t have the time to spend on anything other than immediate, short-term assessments of a single person in group setting. So let go of your self-consciousness and just train as hard as you can.
We Can Tell How Hard You’re Working
We know the physical signs and differences between someone digging in and giving their all versus someone just getting through. If you are working your hardest and are struggling, we are so on your side. We want you to finish those sets, those intervals, those reps. We want it for you as much as you do. When you push yourself, we notice and are there to help. And if you don’t want to work that hard? We are still there for you. We will try to motivate and encourage you, but we can’t supply the fire if it isn’t there. You bring the fire, we’ll keep it burning and maybe even throw a couple more logs on.
We Want You to Be Careful With Your Expectations
Whether your goal is to lose weight, get stronger, or improve a skill base, there is a direct link between the amount of time you put in and the results that you get. If you are looking for a total transformation, a few classes a week will not get you there. Fitness has to be your top priority, something you devote significant time to: at least 45-60 minutes a day, five days a week, and for several months. Your diet will likely have to change. And the intensity that you work out at will probably have to increase.
Once you achieve your goals, maintenance is just shy of that amount of work, but the nutrition needs to stay the same (e.g., no jumping the kale ship for tater tot island once you finally get the abs you wanted). So please be mindful of what pressure you are putting on yourself. Look at your free time. Are you willing to allot most of that toward working out? Be honest: can you take the steps necessary in your diet to support your exercise work? These two decisions impact not just you but your loved ones, their time, and their tummies (very dicey waters to tread in some cases).
If you decide you don’t have the time for fitness to be your sole priority, that is absolutely fine, just don’t expect to look carved out of marble. Fitness has room for many levels, many schedules, and many types of success. If you have a busy work and home life, it will be difficult to find six or more hours a week to train. And that is OK. It may take longer to achieve some of your goals, and you may decide others are unreasonable and based more on vanity than health. Just take stock as you go. That one Zumba class you can get to may not change your life, but it may make it better every time you go, and that’s reason enough to keep going.
We Are Not Workout Machines
We teach multiple classes a week so we do get tired. Routines that are difficult for you are difficult for us. We get sore. And the one thing you probably have no clue about? We often teach injured. Repetition injuries are very common in the fitness industry. Where we would advise you to rest and heal, we usually can’t or won’t take time away from our jobs for injuries, so we typically push through (which can backfire if it makes an injury or chronic condition worse).
Lesson here: don’t be like us. If you are sore or hurt, take a break. Your livelihood isn’t necessarily tied up in your HIIT class or boot camp, so allow yourself to recover if your body asks for it. You may be wondering why do we do this to ourselves? Because we love it. We get so much from your energy, your dedication, your presence. It fuels us. It makes us happy. It drives us to be better for you. Training is not just a job or a hobby; it’s a vocation. And we take it and you very seriously. We’ll keep showing up for you in whatever state we are in. Don’t feel sorry for us — we chose this life. But maybe next time your trainer straps on a knee brace or rolls in with some KT tape, you’ll have a little more sympathy for their hard-working body. And then shake it off and get your own body to work.