Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Ways to Earn Respect AS a Trainer from People Outside of the Fitness World

Do you want to earn respect as a personal trainer? Every time I attend a dinner, event, or even go to doctor's office, I always cringe when I reveal that I am a personal trainer. Around people that do not understand the profession; to describe what you do can be a laughing matter. Most people think of high school gym class or the PE teacher. Which is not too far off from the profession, but others really assume you should have muscles and wear tight clothing.

When I meet a doctor,  the first thing I think of is "Oh man..this guy is a doctor??!!". Which immediately makes my brain reference the amount of schooling--including residency and research--they have completed to become a professional in a particular field.

Personal trainers can earn respect a few ways, but most don't practice these subtle cues. Most trainers think that heavy deadlifts and tight T-shirts are the paths to respect.  I call these the "book covers" of our profession. To really learn more about the profession and the person, the outsider has to be enticed through other avenues. Therefore, I've compiled a list of how today's personal trainer can earn respect among his peers and outsider [to the profession]:

1.) Practice what you preach.
Yes. You should exercise since you are the purveyor of exercise to people. You should lift weights and understand your body's reactions to certain movements and loads--and translate that to developing methods of coaching others under the same circumstances with anticipation of different reactions.

2.) Don't always talk about fitness and exercise.
If you are a personal trainer, please you do not always have to talk about exercise and being healthy. The majority of people are out-of-shape and do not share your same passion. You are the minority. Understand it and consider that it is not a bad thing. You don't get through to people expounding to others how "fit and healthy" you are. This blurs acceptance because it creates an imaginary "scale" for others to measure one another. Be confident, but don't be so "loud" about it. You have to understand that you can still contact people by using the back door...you don't have to blow up the front one to get into the house.

3.) Don't lecture people on nutrition at events with food.
Don't be that guy or girl that sits at a table at your friend's wedding and starts pin-pointing what others are eating. No one likes a person that likes to be "judgmental" of others when it comes to what they eat. Sure obesity rates are high and food choices are poor. But scrutiny plays no part in having people like you--let alone respect you.

4.) Talk about other hobbies.
Let people know what other interests you have in life. It could be wood-working, cycling, or art--but let others know you are human. Most fitness people sound like robots. Listen to any Crossfitter, and they sound like they belong to a cult. Empathize with your neighbor and try to relate with interests outside of physical culture.

5.) Prioritize your family (don't just talk about it).
This one gets me. There are many fitness pro's that "talk" about putting their families first, but they spend alot of time online tweeting about it. Spending time with your family is what grounds you. It is your reality. It provides balance and escape from the everyday mundane. Having a family is a tremendous responsibility and I cannot see a parent going "half-ass" on it. You are a reflection of the type of parent you become--not the fitness trainer you strive to be. Your commitment to your family is a reflection of your commitment  to your health, passion and hardwork. Tweeting about it doesn't justify the time lost. Be about it.

6.) Look the part (to a degree).
Take it from a chubby trainer...you have to lift weights and look the part. There is a ambiance to people that exercise. An aura that they have when around groups. They stand straighter, they move better,  they project strength and they look healthier. Eating right and exercising daily creates this aura. Along with good hygiene and great communication skills, and you will stand about among the crowd. Sure, big arms are great too.

7.) Be current on what it going on in the world.
This goes along with #2. There is nothing I cannot stand more is talking to trainers that only know 3 topics: Facebook, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and the latest $110 training shoe. Maybe its my age, but I have more respect for people that are "in the know" on things that affect our country, healthcare, safety, and current news. With the speed of information today,  there is no reason for someone not to check out news app and learn about the events for that day. Society today doesn't read enough and that is a problem. There are too many people reading 144 character posts on Twitter and Facebook updates; and not reading more events on CNN or other news source.




8.) Listen more.
Real simple. Keep your mouth shut and listen. Narcissistic behavior and elitism is getting old. You can still be strong without proving to the world that you are stronger than the next man. There are too many people that try to speak louder in order to be heard. If half of the people listened more, our society would be in a better place.

9.) Empathize with people (doesn't mean you have to save every soul).
Remember, no one knows that you have a big deadlift or you are a big bencher when you are outside the gym. It took me a long time to get this through my head when I was young. Injuries will help it sink in faster. No one cares what you can do in the gym. They only care what you can do for others. When talking about your profession, focus on how you made client X feel...the changes in her attitude and lifestyle that you have a direct impact on. No on cares that you got her to deadlift 155 or high jump a 30" box. Talk about things that show you are empathetic and impact the human spirit. Those are things people "on the outside" can relate to.

10.) Be real on social media.
Transparency is a rare blue diamond. Rare and once it is in your possession, is very powerful. It is rare because it is hard work to be yourself on social media sites. However, if you project that you are a "real" person and "down to earth"; you may very well get respect from people without ever meeting them in person. 


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