Why Are You A Personal Trainer?

Like many things in life,
This probably started because of a girl.

We met.
We got married.
We got comfortable.
We got fat.

Leading from the front, My wife started working out.
I followed.

She bought a book called Body For Life and started the challenge.
I followed.

We got great results and outgrew our apartment gym and joined Bally’s.
I actually led on that one.

One day while working out,
I overheard a trainer talking to a client and thought,
“This guy don’t know shit.”

‘Course I didn’t know much more….
but Body For Life, Muscle Media, some bodybuilding books and some free advice given by powerlifters, gym rats and a college professor
gave me all the confidence I needed to be a Personal Trainer.

Besides, $25 an hour beat the $15 an hour
I was making as a Gas Station manager in training
so I dove right in.

In Personal Training, I found one of the things I loved to do.  That’s why I became a personal trainer.  Why I stayed a personal trainer is another story for another time.

Enough about me –
So why are you a personal trainer?

If you’re like me,
(yeah, right back to me)
It’s probably because
there is nothing more rewarding than helping someone reach their goals –
especially their physical goals.

As a top personal trainer, you might’ve helped people:
achieve their dream physique
do better in the sporting arena than they ever thought possible
or helped to resolve what appeared to be unmanageable pain issues

If you’re the best of the best,
you can do all of these things.

You are important.
What you do is important.
Helping people with their physique, performance and pain issues,
is just as honorable and important a profession as being a doctor, soldier, engineer, policeman, firefighter or professor.

We may not have the same prestige as these professions…but this will change.  As one of my teacher’s said, personal trainers are the front line of health care: prevention.

When the best of the best of personal trainers can help everyone transform their physique, coach any sport and resolve 90% of pain issues, we will have taken that first step to becoming a professional .  The next step is that personal trainers need to be paid VERY well for being such a professional.

I dream of a world to where personal trainers will be respected, revered…and kids will wanna be one when they grow up.  What is your vision for the personal training industry?

Frankie Faires

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31 thoughts on “Why Are You A Personal Trainer?”

  1. My favorite part of seeing an article of mine up
    is the badass image Josh always finds to accompany it.

    With my first line,
    “…this probably started because of a girl,”

    I was imagining an image of Helen of Troy from THE ILIAD
    but Aldous Huxley and BRAVE NEW WORLD…
    even better!

    I think Josh is showing the aptitude for aesthetics
    that can only be found in interior decorators
    and homosexual males who dress heterosexual males better.

    : )

    I await your retort, Josh.


    1. No retort. Your intuition is better than I thought. Now I’m off to brunch to help an ex-marine learn to tie a cravat.

  2. I saw the title, then looked at the “by Josh” line and thought, “Post by Josh.” As soon as I started reading, I realized that Josh didn’t write this. Frankie did. The dead give away? The stanzas. (I’m a poet and English prof).

    I’m thinking we should write a book of poetry that revolves around perpetual progress and title it “Better.”

  3. nice Frankie

    I’ll give you the short version and put the long one up on my blog today.

    I became a personal trainer because…

    I love it.

    I took a lot of risks to be where I am today but took them with confidence because I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Plus the hours are great and I get a lot of time to nap.

    I have no vision for the industry as a whole. I have plenty of visions for me.

    1. What is best for you is most important. Don’t sweat the industry as a whole, we are here to do the heavy lifting. What i need is for you to be the most successful local business in your area. thats how we win 😉

      1. exactly what I meant Adam

        one of my favorite sayings that I can’t credit to anyone is

        “it’s harder to carpet the world than it would be to put on slippers”

  4. I was a certified personal trainer at SUNY Plattsburgh where I went to college. I cringe now to think about the advice I dished out, and worse, what I used to do to myself at the gym. It’s been a long ass road to where I am now, that’s for sure. I’m training a couple of guys right now, just because they approached me wanting to know how I stay in shape, etc. I stopped appraoching people a long time ago. I can’t wait to see how they make out becaues I know they are gonna succeed. One of them bought his first kettlebell recently. This might be the start of something…

    1. Joseph, if you love doing something, you will become exceptional as you chase it. Keep us updated

  5. Very well done as usual, Frankie.

    I’d like to become a personal trainer myself, any suggestions on how to get started? Mistakes to avoid?How to find clients?

    These are all apart from improving myself every day, of course.

    1. Brad,

      Make your business education as important as your academic education.
      One way to go about this is to get good at sales at a chain gym.
      If you want to be an independent personal trainer, then you’ll need to know a few marketing strategies, as well.

      We offer both business and academic education concurrently.
      If you save your money to invest in us,
      I’ll make it my mission to make it the best investment you ever made.

  6. The thing that I believe is the primary problem with the fitness industry in general, and personal training in particular, is DIS-EMPOWERMENT … The industry needs to move towards empowering people (both literally speaking on a physical level and—even more importantly—on a mental level) …

    Movement is our birthright … not something that is ONLY possible via paid ‘expert’ tutelage from a certified guru.

    How does the fitness industry dis-empower people? Here’s (just) one example …

    OVER COMPLICATION. When something is given the gloss of complexity, ordinary people tend to lose faith in their own ability to deal with it adequately.

    Listening to a lot of fitness people I know, it would be near impossible to learn how to lift something off the ground and put it back down again by yourself.

    In order to do that I’d need to go to a ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ expert. Get a very complex ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ movement analysis. Which inevitably reveals that I have serious imbalances with my ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ mechanics. So I’ll probably need to train with my ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ expert for a long time. Then I would learn all the SECRET ‘how to lift stuff off the ground’ techniques. AND buy all the latest ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ training equipment. AND buy all the ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ literature. AND buy all the ‘lifting something off the ground’ supplements. AND eventually get the ‘lifting stuff off the ground’ certifications. AND, maybe—if I’m lucky—an ‘I can now lift stuff off the ground’ t-shirt …

    Hmmm …

    The truth is that you can get stronger by lifting heavier and heavier stuff, using cheap equipment, with a handful of exercises targeting balanced movements, using ‘good enough’ form that can be learned easily. FACT.

    Yes, there are always individual issues that may need to be addressed more comprehensively by an expert. But you do not have to fall for the BS that movement is so complicated that we can’t possibly do it without constant, ongoing (paid) supervision …

    I do not need to know latin anatomical terms. I do not need to know industry specific jargon. I do not need to buy [insert specific training equipment here]. I do not need to train [insert specific fitness genre/cult here]. What I need—what we ALL need–is EMPOWERMENT: the ability to TAKE CONTROL of our movement—not hand responsibility for it to an external source.

    I’m not convinced this is the goal of the fitness industry in general. In fact, I think the fitness industry is all about movement paternalism—not movement independence.

    The ONLY kind of fitness industry that I will respect … is one that helps ordinary people gain basic competency in movement, have the ability to handle 80% of their movement development on their own, and gain the discernment to know WHEN expert consultation is appropriate. Anything short of this, in my opinion, is ethically compromised.

    I think ordinary people should pay BIG bucks for an expert consultation about something that is beyond their capacity to deal with. The real issue is, will the industry start helping people improve their capacity to deal with the majority of their movement development, or will they—explicitly or implicitly—leave them ignorant in order to line their own pockets?

    To move is to be human.

    A fitness industry that attempts to dis-empower my ability to move—my ability to be human—for it’s own financial gain, is contemptible.

    *I may have come across a little heavy handed with my rant, but that’s how I roll sometimes 😉

    My vision of the personal training landscape is an empowered citizenry who seek out expert consultation on an intermittent basis.


    1. As someone from the client side of the perspective (and just getting started at that), I really appreciate both Kira’s and Frankie’s view. I just bought my first kettle bell after a lot of deliberation over the advice of a friend of mine (he’s a serious martial artist, always looking for new tools for training), and I can’t really afford a gym membership and lots of trainer sessions. I can and will afford occasional visits with a professional to make sure I’m not doing something really wrong, or look for the corrections in technique that will improve my work- sometimes, you need another set of eyes that have the experience you don’t.

      It’s been interesting to read the responses and discussions here, and Kira, it’s been empowering to boot. It’s great to know there are trainers out there who know you can do it (mostly) on your own, and that each of us has the ability to learn to listen to our own bodies.

        1. Thank you Kira

          We will reshape this industry, make no mistake. Everyone has a choice- continue to support the old guard and status quo, or challenge it and CHANGE IT.

          We can stop the stupidity, we can end the age of misinformation.

    2. Kira,

      There is a concept that states
      the more sophisticated technology is –
      the easier the interface.

      For example, the first computers required engineers to operate.
      Now three year olds can operate an IPhone.

      Being that we are the most sophisticated biological organism on this plant,
      our interface is incredibly simple.

      So is movement.

      So much of what I teach is de-programming.
      The people who know the least
      I can teach the fastest.
      Unlearning is slow.

      (interestingly enough – the first thing I teach is how to never have to unlearn ANYTHING)

      I make collegiate “Biomechanics”
      and Motor Learning Theorists
      heads explode.

      As everyone is saying,
      “it just can’t be that simple,”
      we are PRing.

      We know it’s that simple.

      Some people collect letters after their names,
      we collect PRs
      and connect everything else.

      1. Frankie, I love your comment on “unlearning.” I’ve got a bit of a riff on it (you may notice that R.A.W. has acted as a significant influence on my thinking):

        This reminds me of Niels Bohr, a quantum physicist who made massive contributions to quantum physics without actually believing in quantum physics. He considered only the results of his experiments and regarded all explanations of them not as explanations of how the universe worked, but how the human mind worked. He called this “the Copenhagen interpretation,” and it seems the best method of interpreting sense data that I have yet encountered.

        An entire generation of physicists believed literally in his model of the atom – the Bohr model. Everyone, that is, except Niels Bohr.

        In my opinion, belief of ANY kind stifles thought. Therefore, the less we “know,” the more effective we become as investigators of phenomena. The fewer preconceived notions that we bring to our experience, the more accurate our measurements.

        Unfortunately, the very structure of the english language (as people use it today) reinforces these kinds of unconscious “certainties.” By using the verb “to be,” we insinuate a level of objectivity that a human can never possess.

        Rather than say “the rose IS red,” we can say “the rose LOOKS red TO ME.” Rather than say “light IS a wave” and “light IS a particle” (as went a major debate in physics), we can say “light acts as particle under X conditions when measured with instrument Y” and “light acts as a wave under W conditions when measured by instument Z.” Just by eliminating the implied bias of the verb “to be,” we have eliminated one of the major debates of 20th-century physics.

        It appears to me that education should consist not primarily of learning, but of UNlearning. This also echoes the adage that (parahrasing) “a man is truly educated when he realizes that he knows nothing.”

        Why not apply these principles to human movement? Why limit sanity to particle-accelerators and quantum wave probabilities?

        I intend to know LESS today than I knew yesterday. I intend to accumulate more questions and fewer anwsers.

  7. Personal Training:

    Me (then): started out as a hobby learning to fix people because Doctors felt only surgery was the answer to fix my families back problems. Hearing “miracles” of people “fixed” by Chiropractic and other hands-on systems lead me on research to find something, anything better than surgery. I didn’t like the idea of constantly cracking backs and the need for constant “fixing” and had more questions than answers.

    Me (now): Reading Pavel’s books when I was 16, lead me to a path of Strength Training, until I became Z-certified at 18 only to find my world changed upside down. Now I thought cool, I know it all, I’m the “shit,” only to find out there is something working better for my clients and myself.

    Hmm, it’s funny how life just became all that much simpler.

  8. Summed up:
    After spending the time educating myself and losing 100lbs, I feel everyone deserves a chance to better their life. Being an Obese child and teenager was no fun. I went to the Underground Strength Coach certification a year ago to further my study and receive advice on training others. Currently I am working with friends to help them get in shape from weight loss to those lucky naturally thin friends who want to put weight on. In two months I will receive my CPT and move into a professional gym to reach more people. Everyone deserves to have a life of easy movement and I want to help them achieve that. Some day I will open a gym to help overweight kids and adults get in shape safely and keep it off.

    Biofeedback has given me wonderful results so far and I will continue to use it. Along with this, I plan on attending the RKC towards the end of the year as well as start my Z Health training.

  9. Coach, I truly enjoy your writing. My vision for the personal training industry is possibly close to yours. With prevention, higher more consistent pay & better training certs available being at the top of the list… I would like to see the development of motivational & inspirational techniques for discipline, commitment & improving self confidence. (What’s out there works, yes… some… There is always a better, right? : ) I’d like to tell you I’m working on that!

    I personally know what it’s like to not understand or be aware of those simple, innate concepts while improving & changing the body.

    My vision includes more motivational & inspirational coaching techniques. Applied through the lenses of the health & fitness industry. Something better than Tony Robbins & louder (with out being annoying) than Richard Simmons. ; )

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