I was jogging this morning with one of my regular running groups, when I found myself engaged in a brief conversation with another regular attendee. He informed another person plodding along with us, that I was a personal trainer and then honestly, but ever so tactlessly, followed it up with “I thought all personal trainers were meant to be trim.” I’m not going to lie, these thoughts that most people probably keep to themselves, already exist within me. They sit at my core permanently like an ugly Cane Toad, ready to squirt poison through me when disturbed. It could be a comment like this, something I’ve read or something my own mind has misconstrued, but however the attack happens, the poison runs through my veins, draining my energy; valleys its way through my brain, blackening my usual positive thoughts; burns through my heart turning any love for myself into hate; and basically, threatens to destroy me.
It’s cruel isn’t it? That I have chosen (and love) a career path that can apparently be judged by my appearance.
Have you ever looked at a real estate agent and thought – “I thought real estate agents were meant to be young”? Have you ever been to the dentist and felt that the he or she was too tall to be a dentist? Has someone ever whipped you up a latte and as they’ve handed it over, you’ve passed comment that they don’t look like a barista?
It’s bullshit isn’t it?
I can run. I can do a fair share of push ups. I can do burpees and lift weights. I can box, I can swim, and I can ride a bike. Ask me to go for a 20km walk on the weekend and I’d have no reservations about my physical ability to do it.
I know how to prescribe exercises. I know how to adapt exercises to suit people’s abilities or fitness levels. I know when to push people beyond what they think they can do and I know when to back off. I can help people work out using a gym full of complicated looking equipment or I can show them how to sweat, tone or strengthen without any equipment at all. I can instruct movement that lifts people’s heart rate up or strengthens their muscles, in water or on land. I can coordinate a big group of people in an exercise session and I can work with people individually on very personal journey through their wellbeing.
I don’t spend every spare minute of my day working out. What I do in my spare time is keep up to date with current trends in the industry, researching exercises and testing them out to see if they are safe, suitable and effective. I keep in touch with my clients to see how they are feeling, what else they are doing exercise wise and what is best going to work for them in their upcoming session. I promote my business, because my passion is to getting people moving and if I can be that lifeline to someone then I’m over the moon. I provide knowledge and support to people to help them be more active than they would be otherwise.
Isn’t that what a personal trainer is meant to be?
My less-than-trim body type actually enables me to be an understanding, patient and creative personal trainer. Whilst I have always been active, I get that it is hard. I have understanding for people who don’t like doing exercise. I get it. This understanding comes into play when I work with people to set goals. They are realistic. They aren’t based on what I do in a week. They are what is manageable for that person. None of my clients are going to get prescribed a 6km run if they are struggling to get out and walk a couple of times a week.
I get that carrying extra weight makes some moves a little awkward. Yeh – the yoga instructor doing a downward dog might resemble a svelte greyhound, but with my lumps and bumbs falling the way gravity has intended, I am less greyhound and lot more bloodhound. So with me – I’m not going to wangle you into a position that makes you feel bluh. Because no one needs to leave an exercise session feeling bluh.
Burpees are an awesome cardio, strength and agility exercise but I know that certain tops tend to slip up and certain pants tend to slip down. And the result is an awkward one hand burpee while trying to pin those babies back together and praying to God that the set finishes before everyone else sees what I spend most of my time trying to hide. I provide props to make shit like that easier. To make it less uncomfortable. To make my clients feel more focussed on the exercise and less focussed on what they hate about themselves.
You can probably tell that the poison is still running through me. My keyboard is suffering the bruises as a type. I’m not really sure if this is a letter to the speaker of those judgemental comments, or to the cane toad living inside me. But seriously, if you can’t judge another person’s job on how they look, how can you judge mine?
I didn’t have to pass any tests relating to my body size to become a personal trainer, no more than a real estate agent, a dentist or a barista. If being a personal trainer means I have to be trim, then I fail. I’m out. But, “running buddy” (and cane toad) if being personal trainer means I have to support people though the sometimes overwhelming journey of being active, then I am exactly how I am meant to be.