{Guest Post} I’m Not Jillian

14 09 2011

Hi everyone! I’m Paige from Running Around Normal. I’m excited to be guest posting for Chloe 🙂 I love reading about her triathlon adventures, and thinking maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to swim in a lake 😉 For now, I stick to running, spinning, and lifting! However, for my day job, I help others work on their fitness and health as a personal trainer.

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I can’t help but wonder what goes through their head when I respond with, “I’m a personal trainer.”

They say it just takes an instant to make a first impression; so when I meet someone who leads with this question, I can only assuming they’re judging me, at least in part, by what stigma is attached to their perception of personal trainers.

With shows like the Biggest Loser, many people now associate all trainers with someone who yells, pushes, embarrasses, and screams.


For instance, the other day, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a friend of a friend, and naturally one of the first questions he asked was “Where do you work? What do you do?” It’s just part of the get- to-know-you-routine. How are you? How do you know so and so? So what do you do? Anyway, when I answered, he responded with something to the effect of “oh! So you get to yell and scream at people to do more pushups!!”

Umm, no.

I’m not Jillian.

Let me preface this by saying that as a personal trainer, I don’t have a high opinion of shows like the Biggest Loser. But that’s another guest post for another time;) You can also read more about my opinion of Biggest Loser on my fitness blog. So if you’re a Biggest Loser super fan, please note that I’m not saying the following isn’t the best style of training, it’s just my style of training 🙂

What’s on TV isn’t an accurate sample of most of the personal trainers out there. The way trainers like Jillian Michaels, Jackie Warner, etc. act with their clients, isn’t exactly how the rest of the trainers out there do. Of course, there are some trainers who use the intimidation factor, just as well as there are some clients who seek out trainers like this. I’ve had to turn down clients who tell me directly they want someone will yell at them and make them puke. Wrong trainer. I take a more laid back approach.

TV Trainers say: Don’t stop until you reach 20!

I say: Keep going until you feel like your form starts to suffer. One skill a trainer must acquire is the ability to read his or her client. I know if my client is really working her hardest or she’s got a few more reps in her. Either way, I’ll stop my client as soon as I see poor form start to creep in.

TV Trainers say: Don’t stop!!

I say: Push yourself! You can do it! You got it! …are you OK? All right, then let’s keep going! What works for me is to encourage clients to keep going, but make sure their discomfort isn’t actually pain.

TV Trainers: Give orders while screaming!!

I say: I use an inside voice while training. Unless I’m teaching a boot camp and need to project my voice, I talk to my clients like I would anyone I’m explaining something to. I’ll get excited and celebrate with them, but I won’t make a scene in front of the rest of the gym.

TV Trainers: will start you out running on the treadmill

I say: If you despise the treadmill, we’ll find another method of cardio. The TV trainers must have client contracts thicker than dictionaries. Not only do I make it priority not to push clients to the risk injury, but I don’t want to push the line when it comes to negligence and my trainers insurance.

Question of the day: Have you ever trained with a personal trainer? What was your experience?