Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Helpful Saboteur

There are millions of people out there who take an interest in health, fitness & nutrition. MILLIONS...

Those people who are wanting to stay healthy and strong. 

Those who have a goal such as a wedding or holiday to reach. 

The people who have had a bit of a kick up the arse when it comes to their health & have been scared into looking after themselves. 

Those to whom it is second nature as they've always lived like that.

Don't forget the people who's jobs require a certain standard of fitness, such as the Emergency Services, Athletes, Fitness Instructors.

Hell, what about the people who actually 'enjoy' exercise for the sake of it? Freaky huh? 


Think on though;....are all of these people educated to the same level in what they know?
Not a chance. 
Even those of us who have studied for Professional Industry-Recognized Fitness Qualifications all have varying levels of knowledge, expertise and skills. That's just how it works. Fact. You gain a qualification and the learning carries on...forever! Not just in health & fitness, but in all sectors. For instance, not all Medical Professionals have the same knowledge as each other & us 'non-medical folk' can claim to know a few things when it comes to illness, injury and the like too can't we? See how it works? Amateur level and Professional level and varying degrees of knowledge throughout. It's a fantastic thing. You don't need to have the desire to take it to a professional level or make it your career to be knowledgeable and passionate. If you love it, educate yourself and enjoy!

What I DO find hard to understand is the Helpful Saboteur.

There is a handful of people who have come to the surface now that I have obtained Professional Qualifications & am carving a career out of being a Personal Trainer. These people have an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. They enjoy it. They have seen 'great' results and get a real buzz from what they do and it goes without saying that they LOVE To talk about it. Well you do, don't you. when you enjoy something? So how is this making them a Saboteur? What are they sabotaging exactly?

Other people's fitness results. 

Yep. Funny eh? They are so into health and fitness and yet they appear to want to stand in the way of someone looking to take their first steps into a healthy lifestyle (or return to it). How so?

I get asked on here a fair bit from people when it comes to questions about what they should eat, what exercises should they do, how can they reach this goal, how should they avoid that result, is there anything they can do to get rid of this....and so on. This is great. Questions mean they are interested. I'm happy to share my knowledge, such that it is. I'm always reading more, and educating myself continually so I'll always hopefully add to the value of what I can advise. If it helps them then great. I'm not going to with hold information or insist that they pay for my advice. I'm happy to share and help and encourage.

Sometimes, they decide that they like what they hear from me, yet decide that they need someone to help them achieve it. So they start to enquire about hiring me. How much will it cost? What does it entail exactly? Can I help them? RIGHT! Listen up! Now at THIS stage, I am seeing that handful of people I mentioned earlier, pop up. Not always directly and obviously...not all the time. Sometimes it's behind the scenes. But they appear, and they start to throw in their bit of knowledge and they start to try and lead that interested person away. They have a bit of knowledge and it's useful. It worked for them.

"Yeh I do this, and I train like this, and I eat this", They say.

"Of course I do it in moderation-no need to go crazy! It's all about balance you see!". That last statement is pretty much always targeted at me. Apparently I do not do this in moderation, nor do I balance it out. 

This is then usually followed by a breakdown of what they do themselves, how they train, when they train, and how simply amazing what they do is. They then suggest to the aforementioned inquisitive person, that instead of hiring me, a 'professional', to help them on the road to correct and solid training that can give them a great start to fitness (after all, I've been trained to know exactly how to get results in the fastest, safest way and am STILL learning), that they don't bother, and instead just 'take their advice' and do it on their own. 
*cue another list of tips/recipes/exercise plans from the Helpful Saboteur.....*


Here's the 'deal'. What worked for you worked for YOU. You have a certain medical history, lifestyle, stress and sleep patterns, commitments, likes & dislikes and so on. It's worked, and you saw results. Yeh, you say you don't want to go crazy and get obsessed. No need for that you say! Hmm sometimes I wonder if this is this in a way to justify to others and yourself that you do not look particularly in shape or fit? Hey, overweight people can be fit too right?

Yes they can. There are levels of fitness ad you choose the level you strive for. 
No, no, you are not obsessed or vain or any of those 'adjectives' you throw towards me, are you? Nah. So if the person just does what you say then they too can look just like need to waste money on a luxury like a Personal Trainer is there?


A Personal Trainer MAY seem like a luxury to you, but think on. Is it?

A Personal Trainer can be hired as and when or for a specific time period, in order to help someone reach their fitness and health goals. They are paid for their knowledge, expertise, and experience that they bring to YOU as a client. There isn't one programme suits all. There really isn't! Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. They store fat in different areas, have injuries, have weaknesses and muscle imbalances, food intolerances, time constraints and so on. The Personal Trainer can offer a BESPOKE programme that works for the person as an individual taking ALL of this into account. It's not the workout 'plan' you've been following half-heartedly out of a magazine for the last 2 years, but an up to the minute, researched, proven way of mixing up fitness and nutrition with lifestyle guidance and corrective exercises to help the client. It's periodized, and designed to keep the results coming as the body strives to adapt. You may want to follow your own programme and that's great and fine and dandy for you, but are you really in a position to start prescribing stuff for someone else who has decided they require advice so that they can do it right this time? 

Let's go back to you. You're not a professional. Neither was I, yet I too gave out advice. Sure I did! I loved giving out advice! What I DIDN'T do, and this is the whole reason for this post, is try andSTOP someone who may be considering hiring a professional. I'd give advice when asked, and then if they wanted to hire someone then sure, why not? I'd not go out of my WAY to talk them out of it, saying it was a waste of money or that they didn't need it and why didn't they just do as I did? Yet you do this? A few of you religiously do this and I see it over and over again and I wonder why?

You've not changed your programme for ages have you? In fact, you've not seen decent results since that initial weight loss you talk about really. You're just say you don't want to 'take it to the extreme' or 'get all unfeminine and muscly' or 'become obsessed and no fun'. You say that you are 'far too busy' sto spend hours in the gym like me. All comments that have been thrown at me as if some sort of horrendous slur. Well listen up! I don't train daily. I don't spend hours in the gym. I am the master of a powerful yet short workout. It works, because I know what I am doing, how to do it and how to accommodate my own imbalances/imperfections/goals/time constraints etc. 

Nah, You don't want muscle do you? But you really don't need to tell me that as it is clear by the soft shape of your body, that is now simply a smaller version of the shape you were when you first started on your self-created workout regime....You started off pear shaped and a size what? You're now 3 sizes smaller-yippee....but you know what? You're still that pear! Muscle isn't bodybuilding. It's strength and what gets you out of that armchair when you are 80. It's not vanity. It's essential. 

Going back to the Medical professional reference earlier.....what if the same person speaks to you & says they are about to consult a Doctor because of certain symptoms that are causing them pain.? Do you then chuck in YOUR experience and prescribe medication to them to save them the luxury of consulting a doctor???? After all, you had something 'similar' once didn't you? Maybe you can give them your old meds? It worked for you! 

Let's look another way...maybe you have some knowledge on electrics and wiring? You fitted that plug on that toaster. Your friend was considering hiring an electrician to re-wire the first floor of their home but no, you stop them. Don't be wasting your money on a luxury like an electrician when YOU can show them how it's done...

Are you seeing it yet? Are you maybe one of those Helpful Saboteurs? Offering advice in a well-meaning way to help your friend? Yet by doing so, you're not helping them, are you? If they decide to take your advice rather than hire a professional, then what will they get? Well, who knows? At best maybe fitness and health like yours? At best. At worst, injury, further muscular imbalances, or even just a waste of their time. You yourself didn't want to go crazy did you? You set your goal to 'average'. ..... apparently...

Yet you didn't. I don't buy it! Nobody sets out on a fitness regime to become average looking. Nobody wants to get in shape for others to not really notice that they are now far fitter and healthier. No it's not always about aesthetics, but if you were 'warned' that following a Professional workout and lifestyle programme to help improve your health had a side effect of giving you a better physique aesthetically, would you stomp off ina huff and refuse to begin because all you care about is how healthy you are and you don't want any of this 'better body' malarkey as it's just vain... REALLY? 

A Personal Trainer is not a luxury. A 'luxury' would be that bottle of wine you buy yourself on a Friday night and drink whilst eating takeaway. A 'luxury' would be that big bowl of ice cream you rewarded yourself with because you went for a 15 minute run 5 days ago. You find the money for that don't you? But if you knew what those rewards an treats that mean you're not taking it to the extreme were actually doing to your body, would you still have them? You don't really know do you, and therein lies the difference between myself and you. Additional knowledge-something I CAN offer the paying client. 

A Personal Trainer is sometimes EXACTLY what a person needs. If you see that they are interested in it, and are asking me questions, then WHY are you trying to stop them? Do you think I am some sort of lycra version of Dick Turpin, ready to rob them blind? Do you think they are wasting their money as I cannot offer them anything they can't 'find out' for themselves? Really? Do you not just need to look inside a gym at all of those people following their own workouts and work out a percentage of them who actually have the body that shows they know? The body that is changing constantly? That every month they can see measurable improvement and results from what they do? Those people are a minority. Yes there are those who see increased endurance and fitness. Those who see signs of body sculpting and fat reduction. But the majority do not. If it were THAT easy to work it all out and self-design a programme then that gym would be FULL Of Gods and Goddesses!!!!! 

So, next time you find yourself hell-bent on stopping someone hire myself or another fitness professional then perhaps stop before you start? Share your knowledge by all means, as we all learn from each other, but do not stand in their way or go out of YOUR way to prevent them hiring a professional. If its truly not for them then trust me, they won't hire me. I'm happy to give free advice. But having read this, maybe see if this is you? Perhaps you don't even realise you are doing it? Yet you are. It is 4 of you. I100% guarantee it is 4 of you and you've all done it on more than one occasion. 

Thanks for needed to be said.