I joined a gym as soon as I got my driver’s license and got my own car. Looking back, I don’t know why I did this. I’d never been athletic in high school and I didn’t know anyone who went to the gym. But the siren call of the weight room was just too much for me to resist, and soon I became friends with the employees and all the regulars where I went, daily, to perfect my muscle definition. Eventually, I hired a trainer and began to work out in earnest. I loved weight lifting and at one point even had the opportunity to become a fitness model.
There are many reasons to find a trainer. Finding the right trainer can be a challenge, especially when there are so many wonderful trainers and great gyms in the vicinity (or, conversely, the gym and trainer pickings are slim but your waistline is not). One important component before you even start looking is your degree of self-knowledge regarding what you want from your fitness program and what you need and expect from your connection to your trainer.
My first trainer was a body builder. On the relative scale, a body builder is larger and more solidly muscular than a fitness model. However, I was young and ready to put on a lot of muscle and she was a great trainer for me at the time. Out of nine different trainers I’ve worked with in my life, four have been competitive body builders. My next three body building trainers were men, huge, and really hardcore. At the time, they suited my needs, and I loved each one of them dearly. I laid down a foundation of solid muscle with these guys and had a great time doing it. Now though? I have other priorities.
Have you worked with a trainer before? What made you decide that you wanted to work with a trainer? Who did you work with, and why?
Some people start from their heads and work towards their bodies. Oddly, for someone as academic as I am—even now—I go from body to mind. If I can do it physically, I can do it mentally. Every time I have needed a psychological lesson, I’ve found a great trainer and laid out my plans and goals. This is how I worked with an Olympic power lifter, who taught me how to blast through pain and keep my focus (a lesson that served me just the way I wanted it to while I went through the grueling twenty-hour Ph.D. qualifying exams at Indiana University). When I was writing my doctoral dissertation and teaching full-time at the University of New Mexico, I found my beloved Coach Shaun (Creighton, of Olympic marathon running fame) who taught me how to pace myself while running (a skill that I needed in order to complete my dissertation in two years’ time).
Most people benefit from functional fitness training. I was surprised by it the first time I was trained in this style. This time, my trainer taught me new approaches to finding balance in my workout and, by extension, in my life. Interestingly, when I worked at the gym at IU during graduate school, I did train newcomers to perform functional fitness programs. But I, myself, approached the weight room the way a fitness model would: lots of hard work with the weights, a strict diet, and a very restricted lifestyle. Letting someone else lead the way as I learned how to not be so hard on myself in the gym was a great skill to learn. I quickly became a convert to functional fitness!
Now, several years later, I am still a firm adherent of functional fitness. There are five basic movements that get us all through the day: pushing, pulling, rotation, level changes, and locomotion. The degree to which one performs these movements in a fitness program, either in the gym or at home, can build muscle, assist in fat reduction, and—most importantly—enhance one’s quality of life. Being comfortable and at ease within one’s body, maintaining health to the greatest degree possible, and looking good are all benefits of functional fitness training. Add some yoga, meditation, or Reiki to the program and the mind becomes infinitely eased as the body gets stronger.
We all come to the trainer-trainee relationship with different histories and goals for the future. As a trainer, I have considerable experience being trained in a variety of styles and working in a gym with a wide range of people. I’m equally happy training for functional or other fitness, full stop, OR training a client’s body so that the mind follows, allowing the client to achieve some psychological or lifestyle goals outside of the training hour(s).
What’s your experience with trainers? And what would you like in your future for your connection with your personal trainer?
Contact me at email@example.com when you want to begin training, would like health coaching, or you’d like to try Asian bodywork therapy. And follow me on Facebook to keep up with all the latest Two Hearts Wellness news, too!