Douchebag Trainers and Bad Advice
I was reading a post on the gram the other day from this gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, lean fitness model-type.
I won't actually put her real picture here, but she looked a bit like this:
(So, you know, a bit like me...)
She was saying how she really didn’t want to train today, or yesterday. That sometimes, she just has no motivation.
BUT… drum roll… she’s going to train anyway. Because that’s just what you have to do. You can’t wait for the motivation to strike. You just need to crack on and do it even though you have no desire to whatsoever.
This was her, what I imagine she thought to be, inspiring solution to the problem that oh-so-many of us face.
Well, I think this is shit advice.
Because most people haven’t reached their health, fitness and aesthetic goals. Exercise and movement haven’t become routine. It’s not a habit. They also have never experienced much success (especially not lasting success), and they’ve never found anything that works for them, that they can maintain in the long term.
So this message of “just suck it up and workout you fatty” doesn’t really inspire.
Nor does some picture-perfect skinny, toned model telling the unfit masses “If I can motivate myself when I don’t feel like it, so should you” really, actually inspire anyone.
It probably makes quite a few people feel bad about themselves. Some of them might get themselves to the gym, like a schoolgirl that’s had a good telling off. But I doubt it makes them feel inspired from a place of self-worth and hope.
This is the problem with lots of coaches and fitness freaks. They think “well, I’m doing it, so they should be able to do exactly the same”… “it’s just excuses”.
As one gets fitter, and exercise gets easier and less scary, one gets further and further away from the mindset of someone who doesn’t know how, or doesn’t have the confidence or motivation, to eat well and keep (or get) fit.
Most coaches are like this, they forget what it was like to be that person who so desperately wants to change, but doesn’t know how. (Or perhaps they never were that person).
It’s not as easy as just telling them, “just do it”, because there are other obstacles in the way.
Maybe they’ve had bad experiences with exercise in the past, and are traumatized
Maybe they’ve done exercise in the past, but never got any results, so don’t truly believe that it will do anything this time.
Maybe they are self-conscious
Maybe they have a deep distrust of douchebag fitness professionals who make them feel like a piece of shit and set ridiculously high standards and berate them for not being able to keep up
Maybe they don’t want to be horribly sore, like the last trainer made them, or like they were after that bootcamp because they wanted to at least look like they could keep up with everyone else
Maybe they have been made to believe that running yourself into the ground and working really, really hard is the only way to get fit, and they just don’t have the energy to do that
Maybe they have no idea where to start
Maybe they are scared of putting lots of work into something and failing
Many of us fitness pros have the exercise bug… and you’ll here us saying things like “I just don’t feel good if I don’t get my workout in”. This absolutely is true, and most people will get to this stage if they are consistent enough. But to get there, you need a few things
To have started small enough in the beginning that you were able to keep going for longer than a week
To have found a form of exercise that you actually ENJOY
To have had enough knowledge (or a good enough trainer) to do something that actually gets results
To have combined it with good eating habits
To have been consistent enough, with both diet AND exercise, over a long enough period of time to actually see results.
To know from experience that results don’t happen overnight, that you need patience
Now, you may have noticed that this is no small feat.
Someone who’s super fit and lean, who understands calories and macronutrients and knows how to workout to get results… is in a TOTALLY different place to someone who is carrying some extra weight, hasn’t exercised in years and has no idea what I just wrote in that last sentence.
When you are the former, it’s quite easy to force yourself to do a workout when you don’t feel like it, because SUCCESS BREEDS MOTIVATION. When you have already reaped the rewards of your labour, it’s easy to keep motivated. You know that your hard work will pay off and you will maintain your excellent fitness level.
But when you are the latter, you aren’t quite sure if you are doing the right thing, if it will actually contribute to your health, and get you from A to B. You might just be spinning your wheels and wasting your time.
You might also feel like you won’t have what it takes to stay motivated and keep doing it. And then your effort will just be wasted.
Fitness professionals have to come up with better advice for people who want to change their lifestyles. The tough-love crap doesn’t work. People need to be heard, understood and given information and goals in manageable chunks.
You have to start where you’re at. We have to help people do just that and map the fitness journey for them, teach them how to get from point A to point B. If Point A is no exercise, the next logical step is to start doing SOME exercise. That might be 5 minutes of exercise, or a walk, or one training session a week. We can then build on that and add more frequency, intensity or both only when previous targets are met and become manageable.
It should NOT look like throwing them in the deep-end, doing the workout regimen of someone who has several years of training behind them (even thought that may be Point B that we eventually want them to get to, or that THEY want to get to). We have to break it down.
If you were teaching someone to speak a language that they don’t know a word of, you wouldn’t start by getting them to listen to a news broadcast about politics. You would start with words, maybe even letters, build up to sentences – and this would all take a lot of work, before they would be able to understand more complex structures.
Fitness is the same. Don’t expect your trainees to do YOUR workouts, or totally overhaul their lifestyles. Don’t expect them to just magically be able to motivate themselves. Be creative and empathic and break down the task for them.