“How committed are you?”
I was asked this question today by a prospective client (who went on to demonstrate his commitment by putting his name down for weekly sessions.)
Usually, I’m the one asking that question. (“How committed are you to this? How much do you want it? What changes are you willing to make? How much time can you give me?”) The people who know me don’t even need to ask the question. My commitment is evident in all my action, in my own goals, in my sessions, in my own training, in my kitchen, in the way I structure my time. But a new client doesn’t know me from Eve. All he has to go on are some less-than-satisfactory experiences with some less-than-professional trainers.
This particular client went on the explain his question by telling me about other PT’s he had met or heard of who would turn up to sessions late or hungover, or cancel at the last moment. Wow! Some people really don’t deserve their qualifications!
It got me thinking though. There are people who bring personal training and the fitness industry as a whole into disrepute. They fall for the hype of training organisations who market a career in fitness as being a chance to be paid $60 per hour to keep fit and have fun. These trainers usually lack the discipline, entrepreneurial mindset, athletic lifestyle and technical skill to be good role models or trainers. Being a personal trainer is not just about showing up and telling clients what to do. It’s about being practising what you preach, being a walking endorsement for what you do.
To add to this problem, there are some people who think that you don’t need a qualification at all. While there are some brilliant coaches out there without formal personal training qualifications, the system of qualification and accreditation is there for a reason. It helps to foster growth in the industry, to encourage continuing education amongst trainers, and it sets standards regarding scope of practice and duty of care. Ultimately, it promotes professionalism in the industry and ensures the safety of clients. It pays to check that your trainer is both qualified and registered to work as a personal trainer.
Anyway, for all the people who don’t know me, here’s a little information about myself, which should help you to ascertain whether or not I’ll be a committed trainer to you.
My fitness journey began with Muay Thai or “kickboxing,” in 2001. I started training when I was sixteen for self-defence, but quickly became enamoured of the sport and after two years of training also started fighting. Being young, I found myself drawn into a lot of involvement in my trainer’s gym, including taking classes, training fighters, and doing general admin and marketing. In 2007, I decided that I wanted to do something for myself, so I studied and gained my qualifications for personal training. Up until that time I had had a very sheltered, “traditional” background as a martial artist, so I found the new exposure to sports science particularly useful.
I went on to establish a boutique personal training studio for women, Gorgeous Personal Training, the same year. Unfortunately however, in 2008 my health began to decline, and by 2009 I was forced to stop trading, and training. The next two years were consumed by a battle with what was diagnosed at the time as chronic fatigue syndrome. It was genuinely the worst period of my life. I hadn’t realised how much of my life – from work to sport to friends – revolved around my own training and my ability to train others. I lost the ability to function normally in a physical sense, and, as I also lost most of my friends, my routine and the ability to do what I loved, I also struggled with depression.
In 2011 things started improving. I started easing myself back into Muay Thai training. I was like a foal learning to walk for a while. It was frustrating because my body had been weakened by my illness, and it was hard for me to adapt mentally to this fact. I also started training clients again.
As my health improved, I gradually increased my commitments. Early in 2011, I travelled to Singapore, and trained with some of the best Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainers in the world. I came to Singapore feeling down and discouraged, wanting mainly to seek refuge in the company of my wonderful extended family. At Evolve however, my passion for Muay Thai was rekindled, and I also had my first two weeks of Jiu Jitsu training, and knew I had to continue. I remember this as one of the best times of my life. Staying with my Uncle, Aunt and cousins, doing two sessions a day at Evolve, enjoying Muay Thai as I had not done in years, and discovering the incredible art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and my own love and potential for it, I realised that I didn’t need to think of myself as a sick person any more. I mark this time as the beginning of my new life without chronic fatigue syndrome.
I’ve learnt a lot through the experience about myself and my health. Some things are not the same any more, and I have had to learn to approach my body differently, but I can lead an extraordinary life and enjoy amazing good health if I surround myself with the right people and take care of myself.
Although this experience slowed me down, it has stoked the fires of my desire to succeed. Since then, I have been building my body up through strength and conditioning training, and focussing a lot on increasing my skill set in my new sport, Jiu Jitsu. My own goals include competing and progressing in Jiu Jitsu, having more Muay Thai fights, doing more of the wrestling and boxing training I’ve started, and eventually transitioning into MMA.
I choose to work as a personal trainer because I want to live the lifestyle of a professional athlete. I don’t want to be rushing to leave the office early to make it to training, justifying my need to train to a boss I don’t respect in an industry I care nothing for. I’ve experienced so many benefits during my own training, and anticipate many more, and I want some of these to be accessible to the average person who wants to get fit, improve their health and quality of life, and feel good about their body. I get genuine joy and satisfaction out of helping people to overcome health problems or experience relief from chronic injuries or improve their self-confidence through challenging exercise. I recognise that not everyone wants to be an MMA fighter, or train at some of the legendary camps in Thailand. Not many people want what I want. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the rush, the energy, the strength, the excitement of what my own training puts me through.
With my clients, I specialise in helping people to look and feel good through functional strength training, kickboxing, and healthy eating. I choose to do this because this is what I know. It’s not what I’ve learnt on paper, it’s what I’ve learnt and experienced, and paid for – literally – with blood, sweat and tears. Along with Jiu Jitsu, boxing, and wrestling, it’s what I go through every day.
You want to know how committed I am? This isn’t just a job for me. This is life. It’s not just about making money, it’s about using my experiences to make a change, to make a difference in the lives of the people who trust me with their health. I don’t just practise what I preach, I live, eat, sleep and breathe it.
How committed are you?