by Elyssa Tommer – personal trainer at The Sporting Club
Last summer I attended the Perform Better Fitness Conference in Long Beach California. It’s a 3-day event featuring awesome speakers well known in the sports & fitness industries. Half the day is lecture the other half is hands on. There are four classes to choose from every hour… it’s like Disneyland for personal trainers, so you can imagine 800-900 fitness professionals scattered about in a convention hall. Talk about fit bodies everywhere, all wearing the top of the line fitness apparel, carrying around water bottles and their protein bars… you know… for that “just in case” snack.
Every single speaker I visited, at some point, made a point to mention what our job is as a personal trainer. We are coaches, motivators, there to inspire, push, encourage, educate, make people happier, and change peoples lives. Pretty awesome job description, huh? And in doing all of this we too must be coached, motivated, inspired, pushed, encouraged, educated and have our own lives changes in order to change others. So how do we do it?
My boyfriend has said “we teach what we need to learn the most”. Hmmm… let’s think about that for a sec… What do you teach? Well… I teach movement, grace, strength, power, flexibility…ok… check, I’ve got all that, but let’s go a little deeper. I also teach patience, control, discipline, and to be self motivated… do I need those things? Hell ya I do!!! So HOW do we do it??? For me, I am always teaching myself discipline. I’m human, I like cookies ok, I’m not super human and I don’t have magic powers that turn fat into muscle. I’m always practicing patience. I’m always pushing myself to be stronger, mentally, spiritually and physically. I don’t always “have it together”and I don’t always “eat like a rabbit”. I’d die if I did.
All fit people have some image in their heads of something they do not want to be and they just work really hard to not become it. Personal trainers are like everyone else, we all have our ups and downs – and we’ve figured out a way to remain fit and healthy and we teach this to other people. But what about a lesson in compassion or non-judgement?
After my experience last summer I questioned who is it really about? When another trainer and I walked into the upstairs lobby of the convention center on the first day of the conference I suddenly found myself feeling judged. It was as if all eyes where on us… what are we wearing? How fit are we? Are we attractive? My friend felt it too. Being fit takes a certain amount of dedication and it boosts the ego when you’re feeling good… so 800-900 fit people feeling good all in one place… yeah, you can imagine the collective ego was quite large. Being a trainer, I found myself looking at others and judging (which is something I’m practicing not doing), and in doing that I discovered what I needed to learn… compassion and non-judgement. This is something I teach but don’t always follow. Who cares what other clothes people are wearing or if his biceps are bigger than yours or if she has a nicer butt?
We are in an industry that changes peoples lives, sometimes saves their lives, why are we so concerned if we have the latest LuLu Lemon apparel? Basically I spend all my work days telling people not to judge themselves, not to compare themselves to others… and that is my lesson to learn, and probably most trainers lesson to learn. So who is it really about? It’s about me. It’s about you. It’s about all of us. What it’s not about is the clothes we wear, the car we drive, or how many pull-ups we can do. Those things are fun to have but they do not define you. Your job title does not define you. We are all human and we need to look past all the superficial junk. Seeing ourselves in each other is a true lesson to learn – even for a personal trainer.