In our new Realtalk Fitness series, we're sharing the realities of being a fitness instructor today. We know it takes a lot of effort to create a lasting career with a steady following, and we want to shed light on what it’s really like.
I’m a kinesiologist who specializes in helping people overcome their eating disorders. I help them move in a way that allows them to enter the body’s sensations without judgment. That way they can trust it instead of giving an absolute power to the mind, as they used to do with numbers and scales.
I teach aerobic classes once a week and also do one-on-one personal training. The message I want to pass along is somewhat difficult to hear because it is rare that people dare to listen to their bodies.
We’ve generally learned to trust the mind to accomplish anything in life and being aware of your sensations can be somewhat scary.
1. People will come to you primarily based on how YOU look.
As a fitness trainer, I don’t have the six-pack abs or the bikini body people aspire to have, and to be honest, it’s sometimes difficult to obtain clients because of that fact.
In today's world, fitness gurus show off their slim waists and cut bodies all over the Internet. An average body, like mine, doesn't really stir excitement like those other ripped trainers do.
While I'm totally fine with that fact, it can be discouraging at times. Even if I don’t follow these big fitness celebrities on Facebook, I can still see a lot of people liking these photos. Seeing those thousands of likes makes me feel like I should look and act the same way.
Somehow, somewhat, deep inside of me, I know that it is not part of my values, and by doing this, I would become what I don’t want: a model who is primarily focused on the superficial body.
I'm very healthy and feel amazing about my body, which is energized and strong. I'm happy with how I look, and I encourage clients to feel the same about themselves and to move their bodies at any and every size. But I also try to be realistic with them — you may never have those six-pack abs and that’s perfectly fine.
Most of my clients want to have those defined muscles, and when I tell them they might never attain that, it's hard. I try to tell them to trust that when they are healthy, their body will be in a shape that is balanced and perfect for THEM.
2. You have to be 10 times more motivated than everyone else.
We all have our ups and downs in life. As a trainer, I am no different.
What no one tells you about the life of a fitness instructor is that you have to be inspiring and have a lot of energy if you want people to follow your pace. There are days when my mood is lazy and my energy level is really low. On those days, it's very difficult to find a way to dig up energy in front of lots of people.
I have found a solution to make this work by being as authentic as possible when I arrive. I explain to them quickly how I feel because I encourage them to feel their energy level too, and work from this place.
3. Your relationships with your clients are 80 percent more psychological than physical.
Many clients come to me with life problems and issues. No one prepares you for this in school.
Oftentimes, people see their fitness instructor as a role model and someone who is balanced in their life. While I'm not a psychologist, I try to help them deal with their problems through movement.
For example, one of many clients suffers from binge-eating disorder and comes to me to compensate for all of the food she eats. She wants to be thinner, but I hear a lot of deeper issues when we sit down to talk. Clients often open up to me and talk about psychological problems that I can't help with, and it makes me feel at a loss. At these times, I just try to help them focus on how they feel in their body.
Fitness instructors are human. We all have our issues and want to be understood in a certain way. Be respectful of your trainer because they put a lot of energy into helping you achieve your goals, and sometimes they push harder just so you can get there. Try to find someone who respects your body and embraces all that you are now. Not someone who wants you to look a certain way.
Read more of our Realtalk Fitness stories:
- I Found Out I Had A Miscarriage — Then Had To Teach A Hip-Hop Yoga Class
- I'm A Yoga Teacher. Here's What I Hate About The Yoga "Community"
- What No One Tells You About Working In The Fitness Industry
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