You can never be friends with a personal trainer
In the age of specialisation and outsourcing, perhaps it is only logical that we should contract out responsibility for beating our bodies into shape. Self-discipline is no longer a pre-requisite for a hard body, you just need cash.
And if you’ve got the cash but you’re not sure you can motivate yourself to keep the appointments, you can always pay in advance – then if you’re tempted to skip a session you’ll need to confront the prospect that you may be not only fat but stupid – a rough start to any morning.
To an extent it has become a box to tick – “My trainer this, my trainer that…”. And sometimes even a kind of defence - “You’re fat and unfit? Hhhmm. You’re fat and unfit but you’ve got a trainer – well that’s ok…”
Trainers’ appointment books have also benefited from our sheep psychology – “What if trainers are in fact highly effective, and while I’m still mastering circular breathing at Pilates, all my friends at PT will be releasing their inner thin person?”
But whatever the reason, a honed army is rising. Which prompts me to raise my two principal issues with trainers: you can’t trust them, and you can’t be friends with them.
Early on in the relationship between a personal trainer and the physically imperfect party (hereafter “the client”) there is usually a talk about food. At this time the client is re-educated to understand that carbohydrates were a food popular with early civilizations, before the widespread cultivation of the protein bar.
The client is advised that under the new regime they can eat whatever they want – that is, whatever animal they want. They can garnish their animal with approved vegetables and they can wash it down with water. But the cold war on carbohydrates like pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, wine and beer has begun.
I take a keen interest in food, and I know that under this regime you can still create meals that are tasty and filling, even exciting or zesty. But not fun. The fun is as dead as the steak. Trainers do not say this. To my mind this means that either they have somehow been born without a fun gland, or whatever it is that regulates our sense of fun; or, they are being parsimonious with the truth. I suspect the latter.
The deal is - you hand over all your food fun and in return you get a hard body – and the fun that can come with that. It is a fun swap. As such, it warrants disclosure and because trainers can’t admit this to me, I can’t trust them.
But at least this trust deficit stops me falling into another trap pertaining to trainers which is the - “my trainer is my friend trap”.
Yes, your trainer is always happy to see you. Yes, it is different between the two of you to how it is with other clients. Yes, your trainer does think you’re really funny. So do hookers. No matter the substance of the relationship, it has a paid aftertaste.
But do you really want to be friends with someone who was born without a fun gland anyway? (Or had I decided not to allege that…) And can you be friends with someone who cannot say anything harsher to you than – “I think you should keep a food diary next week.”
There are many trainers whose looks will fill their books, regardless of the exercises they dispense. Sometimes I wonder why these trainers’ clients don’t just go for a run instead and then buy a glamour magazine (or something less literary) to relax with afterwards.
This could save up to $60 a pop, and a lot more if you can use the same magazine more than once. But no one’s confusing this for a friendship, hence no one’s falling into a trap. It’s just two consenting adults doing their thing.
But trainers recoup respect for their courage and skill. Like a financial planner they are prepared to shut themselves in a small space with their client to confront figures that are bad any way you want to cut it. And then they have the ability to spin those figures into a silk cord with which to pull us back next week.
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