Last week I posted on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/4m2a5u7) some grainy photos of a personal training session I stumbled upon in the Pacific Beach area in San Diego. I had parked my truck above the bayside beach to take in the view and draw inspiration for some goal setting and strategic planning I was doing.
Well, I was inspired alright. Inspired to vent my shock and disbelief for what this “trainer” was pulling off as a paid personal training session.
The photos below are from the personal training session I witnessed. As I fitness professional, I was naturally drawn to the isolated personal training session taking place right in front of me in this beautiful setting. Sitting there for ten minutes, I couldn’t take my eyes off what was happening. You know the way people drive by a car accident on the freeway very slowly so they can see what is going on? And then when they catch a glimpse, they can’t pull their eyes away from it? That was me. I watched for another 10:00 and took some pictures.
When they were all finished with their session (which involved much of the same as the photos show), the trainer packed up his travel kit and put it in his mobile training van. On the way, they walked passed my truck and I caught a sound bite of their conversation. It was the trainer discussing a potential personal purchase he was going to make and the associated investment. It was all about him.
The looks on both their faces, the lack of emotion in their voices and their body language mirrored one another. They reminded me of what my two young daughters look like when they are asked to straighten up their playroom. Hardly inspired would be an understatement.
By the unprecedented number of fitness pros that weighed in on the pictures, it touched a nerve with you too. The comments ranged from hilarious to disbelief. The thread then evolved into ways that we can be constructive and learn from this captured incident.
As I commented on the initial Facebook post, it was unbelievable to see how disengaged this guy was with his client. It literally looked like he was just waiting for the hour to be over. Physically present, but intellectually and emotionally somewhere else.
Several comments suggested that maybe he was training a friend, girlfriend, etc. That thought at first made me pause and want to cut the guy a little slack. But then the quote came to mind; “How you do anything is how you do everything”. If I train a friend or family member, I probably overcompensate to show them how awesome I am :).
We can all hypothesize what made this session what it was or what made this trainer behave this way. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Our newest team member at Function First and PTA Global/NASM educator Derrick Price suggested trainer burnout. Definitely a possibility. I’ve never experienced burnout in 23 years of working with clients so I can’t relate, albeit I don’t do more than 20 sessions a week and never start earlier than 9:00 a.m. (cue smart-ass comments about Anthony).
If it is burnout, should his clients still be paying him for a service that looks like that which I witnessed? Should I have swooped in to their session and relieved him (and me) of the tragedy occurring?
Another possibility is that this guy really doesn’t know any better. We have no idea what his educational and/or professional background is. Did he get a certification and suddenly go into business? Did he ever have the opportunity to work alongside or be mentored by some exceptional professional(s)?
We’ll don’t really know the answers to any of these questions. We do know is that the photos evoked a response in most of us. We all need to accept that the responsibility to raise the bar lies with each and every one of us.
What did I learn from this experience and all the posts that went along with it? It made me reflect on the times that I may have dropped the ball with a client during a session. At times, I’ve had brief conversations with my assistant about business related issues in the presence of a client during a session. Or I’ve let a vendor distract me while with a client. Little things compared to what I witnessed on the beach, but things to improve up nonetheless.
Tony Babarino, a Los Angeles area trainer posted a lot of comments. He was so irritated by the photos he set up a page on Facebook for photos of “trainers behaving badly”. Tony wants you to feel free to add your photos http://tinyurl.com/4ckxqrn. My wish would be that we get a good laugh from all this and then apply the lessons so obvious here.
I’m going to leave you with a few words or phrases that I would like someone to use if they were asked to describe a photo of me working with a client. I’d love to hear the same for a session with you.
Dedicated to raising the bar in our industry,