Confessions of a Personal Trainer - The Insecurities of the Fitness Professional
November 11, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I became recertified in indoor cycling. It was a bit surreal since being an indoor cycling instructor was my first job in the fitness industry over 10 years ago and my first real job period! I was really looking forward to the class since I had heard of our class instructor and how amazing she was. A few minutes after the start of the class I knew I was not going to be disappointed. One of the first things I noticed about our instructor when she began class was her confidence. I admired how she carried herself with poise, how she spoke with enthusiasm and how she instantly got me excited to be in her class. I believe these are the necessary ingredients that make up a successful and strong group fitness instructor. I instantly fell in love with her personality too (she is a cat person and hates country music like me). Then after her flawless introduction she explained to the class that she has the tendency to speak rather quickly (like me) and if we need her to slow down we are to say the following:
"(insert instructor's name here), you are looking really skinny today. Would you mind slowing down? You are speaking too fast"
Of course the class giggled at this silly request and we moved on. But this one little joke stuck in my mind for the remainder of the day. I understand that this was a joke to let the class know they have permission to ask her slow down but to some extent it was a reflection on this amazing instructor's own insecurities.
Speaking too quickly is a flaw of mine I am aware of (most of the time) and so was our instructor. But in order for someone to point this flaw out to her, a compliment regarding appearance needed to be made as well. This made me sad because I looked up to her as a leader and someone to emulate. How could this seemingly strong person be insecure about her size?
Of course this is not the first time I have witnessed this in the fitness industry. In fact it is hard to recall a group fitness class that I have gone to where an instructor doesn't negatively speak of their own body at one time or another. The fact of the matter is that group fitness instructors (no matter how much notoriety they may have) are human just like everyone else. And just like an overwhelming amount of us, they too are insecure about their appearance and body. The danger of this is that it sets the example for all of those in their class.
"If (insert amazing instructor's name in here) is so critical of their own body and weight then I probably should be too since I am nowhere near as fit as they are"
This is NOT what we want! As a fitness professional, I want to empower my clients to develop a positive relationship with their body and to stop this endless internal power struggle. This will never happen unless I make peace with my own body and start talking the talk (or rather stop talking the talk). Which is why I am encouraging all other fitness instructors out there to do the same! Set an example for your clients and for your class. NO NEGATIVE SELF TALK.... EVER! Empower your clients and students to realize they are worth it no matter what size or shape they may be. We are here to guide and mold them through example and while staying "fit and in shape" is part of that example, having a positive relationship with our own body is just as important!