It’s always interesting to spend time in the office and listen to the banal chatter that surrounds me but I could probably set my watch by how often the subject of weight loss comes up! It never ceases to amaze me how the women can sit there day after day complaining about how fat they are, announcing their next diet and then ten minutes later making extremely unhealthy food choices (doughnut anyone?) – its like there is a complete disconnect between what they eat and how they look.
To round things off, I heard through the grapevine today that someone who I know really well and who I have offered to train is about to order some diet pills from the internet so she can lose weight for a friend’s wedding – apparently she likes her food and wine too much to be on a diet! I mean, seriously?!
When you listen to everyone, all ages, all shapes and sizes, they all believe that the next big diet is to be found in the current copy of whatever glossy celeb magazine and that if they just stick to it for a few days they will miraculously lose all the weight it has taken them years to build up. And as for exercise, that’s apparently too much like hard work.
I overheard a conversation about how ‘gross’ a certain UK celebrity looks now she has stopped being a glamour model and has used her time to train to be a figure / bodybuilder competitor – apparently the view from two 20+ year old was that the muscles made her look awful and that she should have stayed the way she was. There is no understanding or comprehension of just how much dedication, hard work and effort it takes to get to even a fraction of that look and to develop the muscles that Jodie Marsh now displays as proudly as she once did the rest of her body.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of her breed of outrageous publicity seeking z-list celeb nor do I have any wish to emulate her look but I do admire her for the changes she has made to her body and the effort it has taken her to get to the shape she is in. To compete against some of the best in the world and to sculpt her body to the shape it is in now requires a massive amount of work and changes the way you, as well as the world around you, sees and accepts your body.
Most women have no desire to look like Jodie Marsh – either pre or post training – but just want to get a bit thinner, a bit fitter, flatter or more shapely but there is such a lack of understanding that the way to get the body that they so want, is to lift weights. That lifting weights will not give them a body like Jodie Marsh any more than running on a treadmill will make then into Usain Bolt!
Lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises will give them the firm toned legs they want, the shapely pert butt they admire in celebs, will get rid of their bingo wings and flatten out that stomach BUT I wish they would understand that they cannot look the way they want just by sticking to a fad diet for a few days any more than they can out exercise a rubbish diet!
My one wish as a trainer is that I could take all the women I see around me every day and show them that it CAN be done, show them that it doesn’t have to be as hard as they say and that it can be enjoyable. That there is a real pleasure in training hard and knowing you can enjoy your food because you have worked hard; that as you develop the healthy habits and lifestyle it gets easier, your brain sharpens up and you find you really don’t miss the unhealthy stuff that used to be a staple part of your diet.
My strength as a woman and specifically as a female personal trainer is that I do know and understand how these women feel, I understand what the pressures are, I understand why it’s difficult to lose the weight and why it’s hard to stick with it. I understand about children, husbands, shopping, work and hormones and there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that no matter how good and empathetic a male trainer may appear, there is a part that they will always fail to understand.
Having the ability to wear the “been there done that” T-shirt makes it easier for women to tell me things; they know I understand how it feels to try and stick to a diet when everyone else is eating “normally”. They know they can talk about PMT, cravings and contraception without being embarrassed and it will always just feel like a girly chat.
I have always felt that a huge part of being a good trainer is being able to understand your clients and to care about their issues both in and out of the gym; and women do, I believe, find it easier to ask all those questions, remember the answers but more importantly women find it easier to relate to other women and to share that information.
Given all of that, why do so many gyms still consist of mainly male trainers, generally substantially younger than the clientele with no experience or understanding of how it feels to be mid 40s with demanding children or husbands and beginning to feel invisible? Yes anyone can train a client, can get them to lose weight, can get them a bit fitter but how often do clients leave after the first block booking, how many don’t stick around past the minimum commitment?
What all women want, in my opinion, is more than a trainer. They need to feel a connection, on some level they need to feel that their trainer cares about them and their results. They need to feel that they can share the good and bad and won’t be judged but more than anything they need to feel that their trainer understands their good and bad days.
Being able to offer that to clients is pretty special and whilst there are a few really good male trainers around I still believe that the connection women have with other women changes the dynamics and strength of the relationship. It changes the openness and honesty and provides a depth that crosses less boundaries than that between a male trainer and a female client.
Being able to recognise my strengths and abilities (as well as my weaknesses and failings) has been an incredible blessing over the last few weeks; I understand more now of what I have to offer my clients and the people I meet in my everyday life and I understand what I need to do. Early days but I can feel the germ of a sound business idea taking shape……