Although I have been a personal trainer and fitness leader for over 12 years, I do not want to dedicate my blog to fitness. Today, however, I will share a little insight for those interested in what my fitness journey looked like. Becoming a trainer happened by accident for me – my interest in fitness was fueled by my own desire to overcome my constant weight battle. I have struggled with weight problems for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried every diet on the planet, battled eating disorders, and pushed my body to the extreme with exercise.
Before I took my training to become a fitness leader, I was a long distance runner. I believed as long as I was running, I didn’t need to worry about dieting. This of course is not true, unless you have a great metabolism to begin with. In the third year of my running career, I developed something called I.T. syndrom – a common runners injury. I was unable to run without extreme pain. It was completely devastating to me, as my life was deeply entrenched in the running world. If you are a distance runner, you know what I am talking about. Feeling empty and alone, I went looking for something to fill the void running had left. I was worried of gaining weight, and I was jealous of my running friends who had unintentionally left me behind.
One afternoon, while browsing the magazine ailses at Chapters, I came across a womans fitness magazine called Oxygen. The cover model was absolutely gorgeous – both lean and buff. A body image I could only dream of achieving. Flipping through the magazine it was obvious these women “lifted”, and lifted heavy. Many of them were personal trainers offering tips on training and dieting. I was completely inspired, and descided to join a gym. If I couldn’t run, I would lift.
It wasn’t too long before I decided I wanted to be a fitness trainer. So I took the necessary training, and before I knew it I was teaching aerobics, spin class, boot camp,and soon training clients. I engrossed myself in the fitness world. I attended workshops and conferences; I followed all of the experts advice on how to attain the perfect lean body. I ate clean, worked hard and passed my new found knowledge on to hopeful clients. I trained hard, and then….. I fell hard.
I am only speaking for myself in this next part, as I can only guess what other trainers experience.
At 37, I was in the best shape of my life, and my little side business was becoming more successful. I was making tons of money, and my clients were losing weight just like I promised. My plan was to quit my job, and find something part-time while I slowly increased my training to a fulltime business. However, with time my disipline started to falter. I was tired and resentful. I wanted to not care what I ate every second of the day. I longed for the days when a skipped work out was not the end of the world. My body constantly ached, yet I couldn’t (wouldn’t) give it a rest. To make things harder, I was watching my fellow trainers entered fitness competitions and posted their achievements on Facebook. I didn’t feel good enough, and soon their constant photo updates and comments really started to “piss” me off.
“No Excuses” “Get a Body like mine” “Train with me and look like this”
It occured to me that trainers were not helping people – they were selling. Selling the unattainable “perfect body.”
This, I decided, was not the message I wanted to pass on to others. This was not what I wanted for me. Sure, I want to be fit, and I want to have a great body just like most people. But at what cost? I wasn’t happy, and I never felt perfect enough. I also could no longer take peoples money and promise an ideal that was not realistic. I no longer wanted to be part of selling “perfection” to people. I wanted to teach acceptance and guide people to a healthy appreciation for food and exercise. For a trainer, however, this ideal is not lucritive. People don’t spend money on acceptance, they spend money on beauty. So, last year I made the decision to stop training people one on one. I now give freely my fitness advice. I teach fitness classes as a volunteer at the YMCA, and I try to lead by example my healthy eating habits. I am teaching myself to find balance in life. I haven’t completely found it, but when I do – I will share my knowledge freely.
Fitness is a business, and unfortunately, thin is what sells – not health. I know many trainers will disagree with me, and maybe I’m wrong (although I doubt it). I’m not saying all trainers are in it for the money only, as this wouldn’t be true. Many trainers want to see you succeed, your success is what fuels them. The problem isn’t with their intention; it’s with their product. A personal trainer can be very helpful in teaching you how to exercise, but be careful to find a healthy place in your life for fitness. Don’t obsess over it, enjoy it. Give up on perfection, and look for balance, that is where happiness lies.