Monday, 1 May 2017

Bad Service - Personal Trainers

Becoming a personal trainer has become a big thing in recent years. Many people have realised there is a need to help people get fit and healthy due to our growing obesity epidemic and our sedentary lifestyles. Mind you I'm not sure personal trainers have had any real impact on obesity rates regardless of the fact that more and more people are becoming personal trainers.

I've dealt with a few personal trainers / fitness coaches / instructors and I have to say they all have one thing in common. A lack of knowledge about the effects on the human body as we age.

Majority of trainers are young fit healthy people fresh out of an institute or quick online program. Very few are trained for 4 years in skeletal and muscular systems, and have little idea of what to expect when they're older, overweight, after having children, or sedentary jobs for many many years. They take their own fitness and strength for granted and assume those they're training have the same capacity for fitness as they do. Wrong!

Personal trainers often lack duty of care in that they do not ask if people have prior injuries or ailments that need to be catered to. They do not teach clients to engage cores or pelvic floor or make sure both sides of the body are switched on. They do not have clients fill out forms or give information relating to bad joints, slipped disc, migraines, for example. The only time forms are filled in is to sign away the liability of the trainer if something happens to the client, even when asking the client to do something they're not comfortable doing. And if anyone is left injured, in pain or suffering from heat exhaustion, too bad.

One PT I was training with had me do a 5km jog. I went from I don't run at all or even walk for long periods of time to jogging 5km. One kilometer took me 10mins and by 2.5km I was suffering heat exhaustion, all red in the face and unable to cool down. The trainer wasn't concerned, prompted me to keep going, saying I'd get better the more I tried. I finished, had a shower and collapsed in bed for the remainder of the day. I was completely put off jogging and running. Having spoken to a professional marathon runner I just happened to meet while holidaying in Tasmania, he advised someone who does not jog should NOT be made to do a 5km run/jog. It needs to be a gradual introduction.

Another PT I dealt with wanted me to run, saying she'd have me running in no time, regardless of the fact that I specifically said I've no desire to jog or run. I did jog Cliff Young style and ended up with shin splints for the first time in my life! This made me angry especially considering I expressed I have no desire to run or jog in the first place.

One instructor I wanted me to reach up to a high apparatus and strain to climb up. Apparently it was going to be good for building up my strength. I could do it, that wasn't the issue. The issue was the effect it was having on my ageing, many children later, been sedentary for years, body. I wasn't there to conquer my fear of heights. I wasn't there to be so far off the ground I couldn't move and feel safe at the same time. At my age if I fall I'm not getting up and dusting myself off. I'm far more likely to break and not recover.

Sadly that is exactly what happened after dealing with these personal trainers. I broke. Now I'm left with aching elbows that will take a long time to heal and I'm unable to do the simplest things like ride a bike because using the hand brake hurts. All those push-ups and burpies and elbow hangs and who knows what else has left me damaged and those trainers don't understand or care about the damage they've caused. Regardless of the fact that I had talked to them about not wanting to do certain exercises it didn't matter to them. All wonderful and inspiring people, yet with little understanding of what effects their training has on an older body.

For some, chasing the goal of 'young and fit' is important and they want to maintain a level of fitness for as long as they can (I know, I was once that person). However as we age our bodies don't really want to be pushed that hard and more gentle yet strengthening exercises are needed.>

These days exercising has become more about doing something I enjoy and ageing gracefully instead of killing myself to be something I'll never be again... young, fit and in my 20's.

Have you had any experience with personal trainers? Would love to hear from you.

Note: written Oct 2016 / Published May 2017