I see the pictures. I’m talking about the ones on personal trainer web sites. You know where you find trainers posed half dressed, flexing. Makes me wonder if they walk around their studio or show-up at your door like that? Would it be professional to see a surgeon on his or her web site holding a kidney or lung in their hands?
How silly. But, trainer sites that have “fitness pros” dressed in revealing positions or posing is sophomoric. In fact, worse, it speaks to stereotyping.
It follows this line of thought; if you don’t look like this you’re not healthy or fit. If you’re overweight you are not healthy enough or worse, good enough.
Somewhere along the way we have equated buff with healthy. This is wrong. I know what some of you may be thinking; aren’t these photos there for motivation? I reject this as bad marketing, no better than that of Abercrombie & Fitch (read this you’ll get it).
Body image run amuck, even with personal trainers
We see and hear it all the time. On TV, in movies, via the print media, billboards, store mannequins, and most of all in our own minds. We have a message that tells us that skinny is better, overweight is not. People have made millions of dollars selling their cure for weight loss and fat burning. But as a whole, we are still getting heavier and we struggle with body image.
Even though we are trying everything not to.
But this is serious
According to the CDC, more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. What is striking is that one could expect body image problems to be exclusive to this group but it’s not. When we look at the data on body image it’s much worse. A study published by National Institute on Media and the Family reports that at age thirteen 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. The median age of onset of eating disorders was about 12 to 13-years-old according to a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry online. The National Eating Disorder Association states these conditions include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.
Now let me make this clear, I’m not saying personal trainers are responsible for this. Having said that, some are perpetuating the problem in how they market themselves.
But I’ve somewhat digressed
The title of this article is “Would you hire an overweight personal trainer?”, so would you?
In my years of working in the fitness industry, I have seen a bias in client selection in hiring trainers. There has been a trend not to contract with overweight trainers. This is a shame. Many of the overweight trainers that I’ve worked with have a quality that some other trainers don’t. Empathy.
The other issue is how can you judge a book by its cover? The knowledge and other qualities of a trainer are important, overweight or not. Overweight trainers I know exercise, eat well and manage their client relationships with solid professionalism. Could you ask for more?
Personal training is more than how we look. It’s a profession in which the professional works in collaboration with the client. Built to reach agreed upon goals that the client feels are important. The professional is there to guide the client through a process of reaching goals. The professional owns a knowledge base that will help this. This knowledge is present in very capable trainers some of which may be overweight.
As in many types of “counseling”, the strongest predictor of success is the counselor-client bond. Do you feel comfortable with your trainer or the trainer you may interview? If the answer is yes, you have most of what you need. From there whether your trainer is overweight matters not. You’ll reach your goals. If you’re interested in what to look for in a trainer read my article on this subject here.
Finally, if a trainer is leading a healthy lifestyle, has adequate knowledge and credentials I would hire them. Either as a staff member or a “personal trainer”. Happy training!