When asked “what do you do for a living?” I answer with a quick title that most people can relate to. Oh! You’re a personal trainer!
Yes, that’s me – but not really… I’m a physiologist. (Trainer is the title that most people can wrap their heads around).
Quite often, when I say I’m a “personal trainer”, the reaction I observe is one of fear and loathing which indicates to me that they’ve seen one or two episodes too many of “The Biggest Loser”. I can see them envisioning Jillian or Bob, screaming their heads off to motivate their “losers”.
I find myself wanting to apologize on behalf of personal trainers everywhere. Shame and blame has no place in the work I do. The problem is that what I do is quite different from what I’ve observed and heard that other “personal trainers” do. My goal is to help any given individual achieve a higher level of physical fitness, whatever that might be for that one individual. Yes, it’s “personal” but maybe it’s the “trainer” part that sounds like you should carry a chair and a whip.
So I’ve decided to separate myself from the profession of “personal trainer”. From now on, I believe I’ll call myself a fitness consultant or movement specialist, helping people move their bodies with effortless ease, paying attention to the body and using intuition as guidance rather than a mindless counting of repetitions. I teach skills that allows my clients to make their own decisions about what is best for their own bodies, acknowledging limitations and working within them. True physical fitness is not about how you look but how you feel. That’s the message I wish to convey… moving the body creates joy and therefore you move because you like the way it makes you feel, not because you’ve been told to “just do it.”
What would you prefer if you wanted someone to help you improve your physical fitness? Someone to tell you exactly what to do or someone who teaches you how to listen to your body for guidance?
And what do I call myself? Physiologist, coach, guide or guru? What do you think?