{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?



9 responses

14 09 2011

I hated it. He wouldn’t believe me when I told him I was about ready to pass out on the climber machine thing… or when my wrist felt like it was popping out of it’s joint on the rower… I know I had a bad experience but haven’t been brave enough to try a new one yet because I don’t think I could handle another bad one. It’s nice to read that they’re not all like that. I think I knew that in my head, but it’s nice to have it confirmed. 🙂 Thanks for the post.

14 09 2011

I’m sorry you had such a bad experience! I hope that, if you do try again, that it’s not a bad experience!

14 09 2011
Paige @ Running Around Normal

This is what makes me so angry! However, on your side – I can definitely see why you feel jaded.

14 09 2011
LaDonna Rae

I had weight loss surgery in 2007 and 90 days after surgery (with my surgeons permission) started working with a personal trainer. I knew in part the reason I was obese was I had never exercised. In middle school and high school as long as you dress out for PE you passed; and I had never played sports. So I knew I needed help and instruction. My trainer was nice and understanding…too nice, too understanding. I wanted pushed and challenged (NO not screamed at, pushed) she didn’t trust me to know my own pain limits and thresh hold. She stopped me just short… The other thing is that I went 2 x’s per week for about a year…that is what my schedule and pocket book would allow…at the end of the year I still could not complete the circuit on my own. I ask her for a list of exercises…I never got it. I ask for the same routine each work out so I could get it cemented in my mind…I never got it. Since I had never been in a gym never worked out, I found her consitantly adding new things, changing the order etc was very confussing to me. She explained it was to keep me from being bored. That might be true on a more expericed client or even on a different personality type…but I thrive on routine. NOW, looking back I am sure there were ways to keep basic order and add difficulty to a routine in place. I always left feeling very confused. I stopped working with a trainer, stopped working out and started working 12-14 hour days. I plataued…I had lost from 350lbs to 190lbs and I was stuck. I was ok with that because I knew that I wasn’t doing much to help. In Jun of this year I changed jobs and I have more free time. I Jul I started walking…and I have lost another 20 lbs since then. I have lost tons of inches. Recently I set a goal of adding “something” more to my walking routine…about 3-6mi a day depending on if I walk 1 or 2 hrs. I had only seen The Biggest Loser a few times so I only knew the name Jillian. When I went looking for a “workout” routine that I could do at home she was the only one with DVD that seemed simple and not full of music or complicated moves. I took the DVD home and was pleasently suprised…no screaming, no antics…just straight forward, simple easy to follow with no fancy machices…and she had easy methods for getting form right. I just started using the DVD this week. What I like about it vs the personal trainer was its in the same order each day, I understand what she is saying, and the names of the “moves” match the activity so I not sitting their wondering whats a this vs. that only to find out they are the same thing. Perhaps it was just my experience, but I thought the personal trainer I had was not suited for a beginner and never believed I had no knowledge of the basics. Yes I spoke to her and the gym repeatedly…in the end I stopped using a trainer from frustration as much as time issues. I have a goal to again work with a trainer and would like to tone before having reconstructive surgery from WLS. This go round, I know better what to ask and look for…

14 09 2011

Thanks for your comment LaDonna! I’m so impressed by your weight loss journey! Keep it up!

I’ve also done Jillian Michaels DVDs, and she’s WAY different on her own workout videos than on TBL!

14 09 2011
Paige @ Running Around Normal

First off, congrats on your weight loss!
It’s incredibly important for a trainer to be able to read his or her client. – when to keep pushing and when to stop him or her is a thin line!

14 09 2011

fascinating! I’ve never worked out with a personal trainer, but i’ve gotten a lot of similar info from my physical therapist. 🙂

14 09 2011
Two Deliciously Easy Spreads

[…] – Make sure to check out my guest post, I’m Not Jillian, on 321Delish’s blog […]

16 09 2011

I have a personal trainer that I love – I just did a post “Profiles-My trainer” as well. Feel free to take a look at zhongguojumble.wordpress.com

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