The Power of Motivation
What I look for
When considering a personal trainer, I have always felt that knowledge is the most important thing. Trainers need to know a variety of exercises, understand rest times and techniques and be able implement certain training styles to see specific results. I want to drop body fat and get fit and it is the role of my personal trainer to tailor my session to fit my goals.
Today in the gym, I started watching one of the trainers with their clients. As well as being newly qualified, he has only very recently got into gymming and therefore, I believe it would be fair to assume that as a trainer he has limited experience, knowledge and versitily. However, and this is a big however - I could not have been more impressed when watching him.
Enthusiastic, Motivational and Fun
Around the gym, people tend to keep to themselves. Apart from the sound of a few grunts and some medicine balls being slammed on the ground, there is never that much noise around. This meant that I was instantly drawn to this certain trainer and his client. They were moving around the gym doing a variety of simple exercises, yet there was such a buzz surounding them. The trainer was engaging in conversation, joking around and constantly motivating his client throughout her sets. He was pushing her to work hard, but because it was being done in such a friendly, motivating way, it was clear that she wasn't aware of exactly how hard she was working. He made each set fun by chatting his way through the exercises and making her laugh in a comfortable and happy manner. She was loving it!
This got me thinking. Is it really necessary that a trainer has so much knowledge they could help Usain Bolt run even faster? Is it actually more important that they keep you interested and having fun, even if you are doing fairly simple exercises? The fact of the matter is, most of us go to the gym to look good rather than for performance reasons. Therefore, are highly specialised combinations of exercises necessary? On top of that, lots of us have enough experience that we could take ourselves through a good enough workout in the gym on our own. We can research exercises and learn about how long we should be resting for. Surely the reason we would have a trainer is to get more out of a session. To be pushed to our limits, something we may not be motivated enough to do on our own.
Knowledge V Motivation
I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable when it comes to the gym - but who had the better session today? I certainly did some more intense exercises than the client - supersetting TRX squat to row, squats with ball press and thread the needle - but I wouldn't say I pushed myself to my limits. Not at one point did I go to failure or feel totally out of breath. His client on the other hand did. She was only given a simple exercise of assisted chin ups, but she pushed through her pain barrier to get out as many reps as her arms would lift her. Her trainer got her to the point of giving up and then helped her to push out one more rep. That's what motivation can do. That simple phrase of 'go on you can do it, one more!' got her to go faster, higher, stronger and in turn she will see the results that she wants.
Watching this all unfold in front of me, it became blatently obvious that it's not all about being able to find the perfect combination of exercises to give your clients. You can do the most simple of exercises, but if you can get them to push extra hard, results will come faster than ever before.
You may have seen me use this quotation from my lacrosse coach before, but I think it applies very well - 'Your mind will always give up before your body. Your body can do anything.'
That is the role of a PT. To stop your mind giving up.
What I will now look for
As necessary as understanding technique and exercises for certain results is, it has become extremely clear to me that the most important quality to look for in a PT is some one who is motivational. They should be engaging and charismatic and make you feel like a friend. Anyone can count your number of reps, but what you really want to find is someone you can trust to get you to push through the wall.
After today, I am more than happy to hold my hands up and admit my incorrect judgement. This trainer may not have as wide a range of exercise knowledge as some of the others, but he knows how to make clients work hard and have a good time doing so. This is something that in my opinion a lot of experienced PTs lack and so it was extremely refreshing to see such a great trainer in action!
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