Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How to Spot a Fitness “Coach" Who Doesn't Actually Train People

I'm a firm believer in practicing what I preach. After all, who am I to make the liberating recommendation to wear two different socks if I’m not damn well doing it myself?

(Full disclosure: I usually just wear the sock on my prosthetic foot until it falls apart. My prosthetic foot doesn’t care if its sock is dirty.)

Relatedly, since I started my PhD this past September, I’ve continued to train people in person at least once a week. I fancy myself something of a Batman figure in this regard, leading a double life as both researcher and practitioner. I don't have a cape, though (yet).

The fact of the matter is, when it comes to being a fitness professional, I don’t think you can keep your head in the game and stay informed on relevant issues if you aren't actually doing and living that #trainerlife (at least as often as your schedule permits).

For this reason, it irks me to no end when I see people giving out nonsensical workout advice that can only be indicative of them having never actually trained anyone (besides maybe themselves).

The issue of these imposters masquerading around the web claiming to train real people when, in fact, they do nothing of the sort is a serious one. And I'm calling bullshit.

Because it can sometimes be a challenge to identify said phonies, here are a few red flags to keep an eye out for.

1. The "coach" insists there's one perfect form for everyone, when in reality there's a range of acceptable form depending on the individual's joint structure, limb length ratios, injury and training history, and goals.

2. The "coach" insists everyone must do a certain exercise (often the big 3 powerlifts), when in reality no exercise is mandatory, and there are many ways to arrive at the same finish line -- even without back squats, deadlifts, and bench press.

3. The "coach" fails to consider that enjoyment is a key factor in adherence. If the workouts aren't fun, it's more likely that clients won't stay consistent over the long term. 

4. The "coach" constantly crucifies exercises as being dangerous when in reality very few people who receive good coaching actually get hurt from doing them.

5. The "coach" thinks they know everything, but it's only because they're never confronting the challenges that real life trainees represent.

6. The "coach" insists on sticking steadfastly to a plan, without considering the ebb and flow of daily life, which gets in the way of training from time to time. Real trainers recognize this fact and plan accordingly or adjust on the fly.

7. The "coach" thinks that because something worked for them, it will work for everybody. And to add insult to injury, they think their way is the only way -- regardless of client preferences and goals. (See #2.)

8. The "coach" parrots other experts' opinions because they don't have the field experience to form their own.

9. The "coach" relies on good looks, charm, and/or scare tactics instead of providing substantive information. Moreover, they consistently back down from a discussion when their views are challenged.

10. The "coach" goes on and on about trivial details and has no concept of what's actually important for getting lasting results.

Seek out information from qualified fitness professionals, not imposters. There's a lot of good stuff out there -- for free, even -- but there's a lot of bad stuff, too.

If you're ever unsure about something you're looking at, feel free to ask me or another trusted source.

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