In my line of work (can I actually call it work if I enjoy it this much and nobody is actually paying me?), I come across a lot of personal trainers. Some of my best friends are personal trainers which, besides a lot of dinner party conversation centered around whether squatting too heavy can give you hemorrhoids (it can) or whether you can tell if a client has had plastic surgery (as long as her sports bra fits properly, you can't), has also given me an opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat - i.e. not personal training. Hanging around them so often, I've started to notice a thing or two.
First off is that very often they were a member of the Beautiful People club long before they got ACE certified which begs an interesting chicken/egg conundrum. But secondly, and more importantly, many of them do things they would never ever tell a client to do.
What's your PT not telling you?
1. They take performance enhancers. And I'm not talking wheat grass shots or Omega-3 pills (Must that be capitalized? I fear lightning.) One personal trainer I interviewed admitted to taking risky vasodilators, like N.O. Xplode, which besides causing chemists to frown very disapprovingly at the blatant misuse of standard naming conventions - and anyone who remembers high school chemistry knows how serious that is, also happens to have side effects like headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, cancer and - my personal fave - "Xplosive" diarrhea. Oh yeah, and death. But it totally ups your one-rep max.
2. They do extreme diets. A female personal trainer friend of mine admits that any time she exceeds her "safe" weight, she kicks in the Bodybuilder Diet - boneless, skinless chicken breasts & greens. Which, incidentally, any reader of gossip rags will recognize as the ubiquitous Hollywood Diet. "I eat lean chicken or fish and broccoli and then walk my dog every day! That's my secret!!" *cough*cigarettescaffeinecocaine*cough* Other personal trainers have told me they use dieter's tea (a laxative), cleanses like the Martha's Vineyard Diet, and the chew-n-spit method - a favorite of bulimics everywhere.
3. They totally think you look fat in those pants. Of course they would never tell you. Most of them are too polite. The rest of them fancy their paychecks too much. But wringing an honest body assessment out of a personal trainer is like getting child support out of K-Fed. Word to the wise: tighter is not always better, no perfume, and please, for the love of little green apples, wear underwear.
4. They don't know what they're talking about. It's a tough business. There's so much research coming out, it's hard to stay on top of it all. So they make stuff up. They take an article they skimmed in 30 seconds and make a whole program out of it with you as their guinea pig. And it will probably work because for 95% of their clients, anything will work. Diet and exercise - you've heard of that right?
I should say only the bad ones do these things. But even some of the best ones do them because they're desperate to stay on top of an industry that is second only to Hollywood in making a career solely out of a nice set of abs. I just thought you might want to know what goes into those abs.
Follow Charlotte Hilton Andersen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharlotteGFE