I’ve been doing some serious thinking lately. About what I stand for as a Personal Trainer and how I communicate with the world.
For the majority of my career in fitness, I have focused on not only helping people change their bodies into something they are happy with, but also helping people become stronger and more capable. I have seen how focusing solely on appearances messes with people’s heads and they just end up depressed and frustrated. They feel hopeless, as if they are never going to reach their goal. This is why when people talk to me about their goals at the start of our training program, I ask them what they would actually like to do. What’s something cool that you’d like to do but have never had the strength or endurance for? Push ups on your toes? A chin up? Being able to run for 5km? Having something to focus on aside from how you look, helps you to break away from the frustrations of the scale.
I want to enable you to live a happy and healthy life. Not to focus on a magical number that when reached, it will magically bring happiness. That magical number doesn’t bring happiness. It brings a pressure to maintain that number. It brings the possibility of disordered behaviour. Last time I checked, that’s not the dictionary definition of happiness!
I read a post on social media recently that got me thinking. Even more than I already do! ? One of the ladies I follow announced that she was no longer doing “before and after” photos of herself. She gave a great explanation why and I thought how I’d probably enjoy that too. It fits well with my principle of not focusing solely on how we look, but more so on how we move and how we feel. There is freedom in that decision.
One thing that I have struggled with, is that “before and after” photos are a great way to track your progress, especially when the number on the scale isn’t doing what you want it to. They can be a powerful motivator to keep going when you’re wondering if all this effort is paying off. It can be an amazing reminder of just how awesome you are because you stuck with it, worked hard, and reached your goal. "Before and after" photos are a celebration!
Another thing that I have always struggled with, is the thought that as a PT, my body is my business card. Yeah, it is. But there’s a lot to my service that you can’t see on a photo of me looking my best (or, not quite my best!).
Yes - my appearance as a PT matters. Because, when you look at me you decide if I am a nice person. You decide if you are willing to entrust your own body (and your finances) into my care. You decide if you can trust me with your insecurities. That is a big deal!
I’m not going to stop taking and sharing photos in an informal way. I will still encourage my team members to take photos periodically, depending on their goals, but not focus on them too much. But for me, I think I’ll stop with the “before and afters”. In the words of someone rather famous, “I am who I am”. It’s where I’m at. And I hope that one day, you’ll be here with me too ?