Thursday, April 17, 2008

Certified Doesn't Mean Qualified

There seems to be this fallacy going around in regards to personal trainers calling themselves "strength coaches", or describing their experience as "training ELITE athletes". Whether you are a CSCS or a CPT, it seems that professionals assume that if they train "athletes", than they must possess a higher quality of instruction than someone who trains general population clientèle. (Note: General Population Client (GPC) means your average "joe" or "jane").

I love reading some of these BLOATED expert bios by trainers/strength coaches that are 25 years of age. Take this bio for example:

"He has successfully worked and consulted with a wide range of clients that include Olympic hopefuls, professional athletes, U.S. National teams, Division I athletes, nationally ranked high school athletes, fitness competitors and individuals seeking rapid fat loss and muscular gains. He is now a contributing writer to Maximum Fitness Magazine as well as various on-line magazines and newsletters. Jimmy is also a featured speaker at various seminars dealing with multiple topics from sports performance, fat loss, program design, human movement and body dysfunction. "

What we have here is a marketing ploy. I'll explain:

When you go to job interview and the time comes to discuss salary, you always shoot for more than what you want--in hopes of getting what you really can live with. For instance, if you can really live with $50,000/year, but you request $56, 000 as your initial requirement...it is your hope that you land somewhere in between. This "bluffing" game is carried over into the fitness world too. The marketing ploy is to take 2 or 3 experiences you had and blow them up into 20 or 30. Little white lies that become notches under your belt. Seem innocent, but when everyone under the sun does it and they are all under the age of 25, you have to wonder...

I'll be honest, I have trained maybe...22 athletes in my career--spanning from 1999 to today. Only 22 REAL athletes...college, high school, and semi-pro:

2 Hockey Players

8 Football Players

2 Baseball Players

4 Track & Field

1 Cheerleader

1 Squash Player

3 Golfers

1 Basketball Player

Out of the 200 + clients I have trained in my career, these guys were the EASIEST to train! There was no need to influence behavior modifications, provide reinforcement, assess dietary patterns, or enforce accountability. These athletes ALREADY knew what they had to do. They possessed great body coordination, were motivated, and wanted to get better. Mostly, they knew it was going to take hard work. GPC's "think" they know what it will take to change their physiques, but don't quite grasp the reality until that first of second session!

So, for any young strength coaches out there that have trained a handful of "athletic clients", please do not over-state your qualifications or credentials. Training athletes is not a "trophy"... it is easier in my opinion. And before you argue about training 100 athletes in a room...I'll take that over training 30 overweight individuals in a room that complain about every little muscle cramp, back twinge, or have difficulty squatting because they are carrying an extra 50 pounds of fat.

1 comment:

  1. again, you hit the nail on the head! as fitness professionals, our "bread and butter" clients are average exercisers, most typically wanting to lose weight. athletes, although a blast to train (as you already stated), make up an extremely small percentage of my clientele. i'm sure if i went from school to school and promoted some kind of sports camp, i'd have a ton of athletes to train...BUT...then we're crossing the line into what i feel is "it's all about the $ so let me provide half-ass training to a huge group of people." personally, i favor one-on-one and small group training, because it's PERSONAL and in my opinion, a hell of a lot more effective long-term.

    oh, i love the overinflated egos that thrive in our profession.

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