Why is it that people start personal training programmes and quit? Why do people not get results from personal training programmes? Why do people get injured in personal training programmes? And why do some people not even start, even though they know they should? Is it their problem? Or is something wrong with the personal training industry in Singapore? Let’s find out.
1. Personal Trainers Should Not Sell
When the personal trainer is responsible for training the client and also selling the packages it encourages the trainer to get results quickly in order to renew the package. So let’s say, for example, that the client’s goal is weight loss. The trainer now has 10 sessions (typical Singapore package) to get as much weight loss as possible. Which means the trainer must push the client hard in order to get visible results quickly. That might be with an intensive metabolic conditioning (met con) routine or a body building type routine (reps between 8 and 12). The problem with the former (met con) is that if the client is not in good shape, or older, it’s very easy for them to get injured. The problem with the latter (body building) is that it’s focused on building flashy show muscles which don’t last. They may get short term results, but they don’t last. Check out our article that discusses those before and after pictures and why 95% of people fail in the long term with this approach.
2. Not Uncovering the True Goal of the Client
Weight loss is not a goal. It is a means to an end. Being a better tennis player is a goal. Tennis requires agility, speed, power, strength, agility and good human body mechanics. In order to play tennis well, without getting injured, requires good eating, good sleeping, good recovery and good movement. The result of focusing on the goal is that the weight will come off along the way.
Working on neck, shoulder or back pain and being pain free is a goal. In order to get out of pain, focusing on the right kind of corrective exercise, to bring the body back into a naturally alignment is the appropriate long term way to fix the underlying problems permanently.
Wanting to see your kids graduate and not drop dead from a heart attack is a goal.
Or maybe you don’t know what your goal is? So then finding your goal should be your focus and not personal training at all! Otherwise you won’t stick to it.
Focusing on your true goal, your one love, your guiding star will help motivate you and usually, on the path to achieving that goal, you will get healthier and start approaching your ideal weight permanently and sustainably.
3. 10 Packs Don’t Work
What can you do in 10 sessions? 10 hours? Just over a third of a day? Not a lot. So why take a 10 session programme? What can you achieve in 10 sessions? At the CHEK Institute, where we studied, they have a saying,
“If it took 20 years to fill the garage with junk,
it’ll take half that time, or 10 years, to empty it.”
- Paul Check
Now that’s probably a bit excessive but it’s certainly more realistic than the ridiculous get ripped in 3 month lies that are espoused in the personal training industry in Singapore. I mean sure some people will, but will they sustain it? Will it last for ever? And then how will you feel when the weight comes back? Will you blame the programme or yourself? How will that benefit your self-esteem? Because everyone is highlighting the before and after results then everyone else follows suit. And trainers are scared to give people the truth for fear of missing a sale – see my first point. A programme should match the goal of the client. Normally that’s 3, 6, 12 or 18 months and not 10 sessions.
4. Not Being Honest With Clients
And this leads into the next point. In order to get the best results for your clients it’s important to be brutally honest (with empathy and without judgement) with them about what they can and cannot achieve.
You can’t fix someone’s dietary issues with a meal plan. They need to take ownership of their decisions. You can’t achieve sustainable weight-loss too quickly because the fat cells want to be refilled to get the body back to its’ body-fat set point (see more in our article on fat loss and mechanobiology). And it doesn’t matter how much you’re going to the gym when stress from work, family or relationships are sabotaging your diet and sleep, screwing everything up.
5. Not Having a Holistic Understanding of the Client
Which leads on to my last point. Understanding the intricate interplay between nutrition, stress, exercise, sleep, hormones, hydration and the central governor (your brain) is essential. It’s not enough to be a personal trainer. It’s not enough to be a specialist. In order to get great results with older clients, less motivated clients, clients with more complications, having a holistic knowledge of the things that are undermining their ability to achieve their goals is critical.
And being honest with them about what they need in order to get the best results is especially important – even if that means referring them to someone else and sacrificing your revenue (see point 1). Don’t worry about it. Do the right thing, feel good that you did the right thing, and the universe will reward you.
Ultimately, I don’t think the problem lies with the individual personal trainers in Singapore but more with the industry as a whole, how it’s taken shape, and what it’s become. And how’s it’s forced personal trainers to act in a certain way in order to provide a service and a stable income.
You can see that with the success of “get abs” gyms that are a dime a dozen these days. They are good revenue generators because people want the quick fix solution and are prepared to pay for it. But for most people they either don’t get the results, or the results don’t last or they get injured. And that can play havoc with their mental health leaving them feeling guilty, embarrassed, despondent and a failure. Our argument is that you haven’t failed. It was the programme that failed you. If your doctor provided you with the wrong pills, it’s his fault. You have no knowledge pharmaceuticals – that is not your specialist subject. It’s his. Likewise with the personal training industry. The correct holistic programme should be prescribed.
However in saying that there are some wonderful personal trainers in Singapore and some excellent boutique gyms. Just do your due dilligence first; ask them difficult questions and make sure you're comfortable with the answers.
To your health, happiness and longevity,
The Levitise Team
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