The idea for this article came about due to being recently tagged in a post on social media by a client. The video highlighted in a comedic way all of the types of things you can expect to hear from clients over your career as a PT. As with most comedy, it was funny because most of it was close to being true, as the intention of the video was to highlight the farfetched goals and expectations you hear from people on a day to day basis.
As a trainer, your whole career is built on constantly working towards helping others become healthier and leading them towards specific aesthetic or strength goals, which is fairly obvious. But trying to tell people that their goals just aren’t in line with what is even physically possible (without adding certain chemicals into the body) is an extremely common event, which if not approached correctly, could possibly lead to you losing clients.
It is often baffling to hear some goals that people have, but it’s really not their fault. If we look at society nowadays you get a glimpse in to why these goals and expectations from training are formulated. For instance; we all know that social media nowadays is huge! To the point that extreme wealth is being achieved by people who make it as ‘social media celebrities’. This is especially true within the fitness industry, as more frequently you are seeing these jacked guys, or these super lean and curvy ladies that have 1 million + followers, posting photos and videos showcasing their physiques and earning a nice chunk of change from it….. fair play to them!!!
But expectations from training are being based off of these people that have:
- Earned this look over 10, 15 or even 20 years of hard graft. In the gym and most importantly in the kitchen.
- Are full time professionals in this industry, that have the time to train twice/three times a day if necessary and to eat every single meal at bang on the right time.
- Have sponsors that can provide the exact supplement stack required to boost their physiques, which can cost hundreds of pounds each month.
- Combined all of the above with a detailed and specific, tried and tested steroid programme (not all cases).
Now it’s hard, almost impossible for your average client, who if in London probably works an 8-6 job, possibly has a child or two and deals with a lot more stress than these athletes/celebrities (which affects the body greatly- another article subject all together) to achieve a body that looks and performs even remotely like them. But still, due to these celebrities preaching that anything is possible, fills them with a huge amount of determination and motivation to achieve this look in just six weeks of training. 6 weeks to achieve 10-20 years worth of muscle…… Something doesn’t quite add up there!!!
Another case of crazy goal setting is when a Z-list celebrity loses a bunch of body fat, it’s highly documented and slapped all over these dross magazines available, they create a workout DVD and sell you it as the miracle guide to getting from a size 18 to an 8, or 11 inch arms up to 16. RUBBISH!!! This massive fat loss journey that this Z lister has been on would probably have cost the average person a fortune in PT, nutritional programming, supplements and possibly even surgery (but shhhhh, don’t say that out loud). Again their career relies on them looking a certain way, so they can invest all of their time and money achieving this certain look and then will sell it to us saying that they’ve done it all by themselves. I know, it’s BS!!!
If it was a drastic weight reduction and they’ve gone from being huge to being in shape, this is often extremely unhealthy and taxing on the body. They are quick to document how they look and feel great now, but what about the negative side that comes with extreme dieting???? You don’t hear about it because it DOESN’T MAKE MONEY! Often extreme dieting, bordering on starvation means:
- Relationships will almost definitely take a negative turn due to your mood being significantly altered due to feeling hungry all the time.
- For females; infrequencies with or even skipping altogether their monthly cycles, whilst guys may experience severe drops in testosterone levels which will affect your sex drive.
- You will likely feel in a constant state of tiredness and be agitated. Hardly conducive to real life where you’ve possibly got to run a business and a family.
- Your social life will 100% take a nose dive, as you won’t be able to go out for tasty meals or out for drinks!
Again this is another sign of society unfortunately failing us in a sense of selling us un realistic and not always honest goals and expectations. But how would we honestly know what goes on other than that they now look great???
What do I recommend for goal setting and your expectations from training?
Question why you are really doing this and from this definition, create SMART goals/targets!
Why am I doing this?
Do you really need to drop 5 dress sizes at whatever cost for this summers bikini photo? Or do you have a bit of time, still want to have a life and want to make a long term lifestyle change instead of a short term fix? In actual fact, you may possibly want the former, but that’s not usually the case when you really analyse why you’re doing it. What about if you dropped 3 sizes for this years bikini and then a further 3 come the next year in a progressive, comfortable and sustainable way?
S- Specific- I want to lose 5% body fat for a wedding I’m going to in 3 months.
M- Measurable- I want to gain 1 inch on my arms.
A- Achievable- I want to add 3kg of muscle, not 15kg.
R- Realistic- I want to look like an Instagram fitness model in 6 weeks…. NO CHANCE!
T- Time specific- I’ve got 90 days, not “oh I don’t know….. 1 month??”.
To summarise on my thoughts; fitness and the path of a body transformation isn’t necessarily all about the rapid change in your body. Yes if you do it correctly and you stick to your caloric needs day in day out it will happen fast, but it’s about learning about what you’re capable of, finding ways of exercising that are enjoyable- not loathing your sessions, developing an understanding for the affect different exercises have on your body and most importantly manipulating your bad habits for a long term lifestyle change. If you find a good trainer, no unfortunately they won’t be able to turn you from Fat Joe to Channing Tatum in six weeks, but if you give them time, patience and you really commit to the process, it is an achievable and sustainable long term goal.
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Yours in health.