Pouring Into Broken Glasses
This is part 3 of a 3-part series on “pouring into broken glasses,” which is a metaphor for how information is spread within the fitness industry.
In Part 1, we looked at the differences between how one is educated as a fitness professional vs. the realities of being a personal trainer.
In Part 2 we dove a little deeper into how to navigate within a universe of misinformation.
In this final installment, we’ll take the perspective of a trainee.
Our initial look at “pouring” into others ended with the statement, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. So how do you ensure you’re getting the right information from a reliable source?
Finding a Gym/Trainer
Because of the internet, it’s easier than ever to find a gym in your area. But just because a gym is geographically close to you doesn’t mean it’s the best place for you to train.
When you do a search for trainers or fitness facilities, which are the first ones to pop up? Usually, facilities that have an understanding of business and know how to reach their audience. These gyms will be popular and successful, but keep in mind that being good at ranking high in Google searches is not by itself an indicator that a gym/trainer is qualified.
Look for some key things on their website, like certifications and degrees. This should be high on your checklist. Do not settle for just any certification. Make sure it is issued by a recognized governing body, not a weekend course any high school athlete with a half decent build can BS their way through. Make sure the trainers have bios with detailed information about their background and what has brought them to helping others in their fitness journey. Does the facility require an educational background in the industry and/or an internship? Do they require certain skills to be learned so everyone at the facility is on the same page? Lastly, when you reach out for more info, who calls/emails you? Are you being contacted by a sales rep or a trainer? If you reach out for training, you should be called back by a trainer. If you reach out for pricing and class information you should be contacted by a manager or the coach of the class.
Visiting Your New Gym
When you walk in, are you greeted by a sales associate in a private office or by front desk staff willing to show you around? Does the atmosphere when you walk in make you want to train? Or does it feel like you’re hanging out at the smoothie bar, coffee shop, or tanning salon? One of the biggest things I would say to look for is if the staff is interested in what YOUR needs. If you walk into a facility as a client looking for personal training, you should be introduced to a trainer. This interaction should give you a sense if the trainer has passion for what they are doing.
Plain and simple: the trainer should want information from you prior to your session. If they are thorough, you will fill out a questionnaire so the trainer or coach will know about your current health, any concerns (such as past injuries), and your goals. During your session, you should be taught how to move safely and with proper technique before adding any weight. The biggest sign you are being “poured into” properly is that your TEACHER is able to explain something to you in terms YOU understand clearly. If you are unable to comprehend what is being taught, it is the trainer’s job to use his/her understanding of movement to help you grasp the concepts. If your trainer has you jump into exercises right away without proper instruction, that should be a red flag.
Let The Pouring Begin
Once you’ve connected with the right facility and the right trainer, pay attention to the environment as you move forward.
This is where networking, resume, and daily conduct comes into play. If a trainer comes up to you during you training session and offers to help you, they are showing they have a vested interest in you being there. When you have a question on safety or form, the staff should stop what they are doing and help (or direct you immediately to someone who can).
Lastly, when other members of the facility interrupt their own training to offer a spot (or yell in your ear during a lift), you know you are in a quality environment where the pouring out of knowledge and support is mutual and equally beneficial. When we invest ourselves in the success of those around us, we create a community of strength and friends.